It’s hard to be alone when there are two of you. Psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott evoked the capacity to be alone in the presence of the other. This is not a figure of speech, because being in a relationship is also learning to be alone. One expects from the other, and the spouse never fully responds to the expectation.
Alone in a relationship, it is a strange formulation. In fact, the incomprehension, the lack of cohesion and intimacy generate a loneliness more painful than a “real” isolation. We feel all the more alone when we are not. Isolation creates more intense suffering when you have someone next to you, under the same roof, when you cannot have common positions or plans for the future.
Everything is negotiated, but not everything is negotiable
Today, in a couple, everything is negotiated, from the intimate life to the parental adventure. The problem is that everything is not negotiable. Alone in a relationship, it means that there are things that we will not be able to solve.
The couple generates periods of loneliness, because we expect too much of the other. And the ideal is not always the best. To have a couple’s solidarity is to mourn part of your own subjective position. Dating a couple is, in fact, a very personalizing experience. It means that you have a person in front of you. This truism is not one: as flexible as it is, a person cannot modify, sculpt at will what he is, whatever the desire of his alter ego.
Living as a couple, with a “person”, is not to impose on the other what you think, or – on the contrary, and what is not better – to subscribe passively to what he wishes. . Living as a couple means building a space for common reflection that is never exhausted. You have to accept losing, and losing from the start. Winning, too, but accepting that your own position is not (always) at the center.
Loneliness as a couple is about learning about yourself, about what you hold dear but also about what you don’t want to let go. There are positions, as everyone knows, which will never be fully reconcilable. Is it a drama? It’s uncomfortable, sometimes painful. But there is something deeper in the life of a couple, something precious and fragile. That should not be destroyed, even if some questions will never be resolved. We must not forget the simplest, the most fundamental of common existence, the gestures of tenderness, the presence to the other beyond personal options and conflicts, an incomplete presence, sometimes harsh, both familiar and mysterious.
This naked life, this exchange of affection, this astonishment to be together, alone and in a relationship with. We disagree on important points, so what? There remains the essential, which made the meeting, like a first astonishment. To discover and rediscover.
I cherish this sentence from Rimbaud: “When the world is reduced to a single black wood for our four astonished eyes, – a beach for two faithful children, – a musical house for our clear sympathy, – I will find you. “ I have already found you.