Culture

A fine romance indeed: Great minds on why love isn't always grand

Quotes from times when authors, actors, scientists and more took their rose-coloured glasses off.

Quotes from times when authors, actors, scientists and more took their rose-coloured glasses off

Left to right: Margaret Atwood, Rupi Kaur, Toni Morrison, Oscar Wilde (Left to right; credit: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images; Jeremy Chan/Getty Images; Francois Guillot/AFP via Getty Images; source: Wikimedia Commons)

If you're not a romantic at heart, this time of year can be a slog of overly positive ads and messaging. If you're single, it can feel like you're missing out. But whether you're consciously uncoupled or just a cynic, you're not alone. In fact, throughout history many famous words have been written about the downsides of love — the struggle, the loneliness, and the irrationality of it all. Here are some thoughts to help you stay sane. 

Authors, poets, essayists

"Romantic Love is only an Illusion. A story one makes up in One's Mind about Another Person

- Virginia Woolf  

"When one is in love, one always begins by deceiving one's self, and one always ends by deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance."

- Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

"Love is only the dirty trick played on us to achieve continuation of the species."

- W. Somerset Maugham

"If you are afraid of solitude then don't get married!" 

- Anton Chekhov

"…she'll go and fall in love, and there's an end of peace and fun, and cozy times together."

- Louisa May Alcott

If you are not enough for yourself

You will never be enough 

For someone else

- Rupi Kaur

"Along with the idea of romantic love, she was introduced to another — physical beauty. Probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought. Both originated in envy, thrived in insecurity, and ended in disillusion."

- Toni Morrison

you fit into me

like a hook into an eye

a fish hook

an open eye

- Margaret Atwood

Performers

"If you want to sacrifice the admiration of many men for the criticism of one, go ahead, get married."

Katharine Hepburn

"Love is a fire. But whether it is going to warm your hearth or burn down your house, you can never tell." 

- Joan Crawford

"Marriage is a great institution, but I'm not ready for an institution."  

Mae West

Scientists, philosophers, thinkers

"Love is a grave mental disease."

Plato

 "A scientific man ought to have no wishes, no affections — a mere heart of stone."
- Charles Darwin 

"Independence I have long considered as the grand blessing of life, the basis of every virtue; and independence I will ever secure by contracting my wants, though I were to live on a barren heath." 

- Mary Wollstonecraft

"We are all more intelligent than we are capable, and awareness of the insanity of love has never saved anyone from the disease."

- Alain De Botton

"Believe me, there is no such thing as great suffering, great regret, great memory…Everything is forgotten, even great love."

- Albert Camus


Eva Voinigescu is a freelance journalist and producer. She writes about health and science, careers, and culture.

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