Afternoon Inquisition

Afternoon Inquisition 2.23.09

Saturday evening my husband and I were driving home from the city. I turned to him and said, “Love you.”

He responded with an almost robotic, “Love you, too.”

I replied, “Wow, that was convincing.”

We were driving through a construction area and he was trying to figure out where the lanes were on the road, so he was more worried about not crashing into concrete dividers or other drivers than exchanging adorable pleasantries.

Jokingly, I told him his problem was that he didn’t love me. “Love would help you negotiate traffic.” I told him. Because, you know, love conquers all. Fortunately, he really does love me – anyone else would have pulled over and told me to walk for saying something that stupid.

What are some other examples that demonstrate the ridiculousness of  the idea that “love conquers all”?

(Please don’t mention that it doesn’t pay the bills. I don’t want Rebecca to think I’m complaining about my paycheck, which is direct deposited into a Skepchick communal love piggy… it’s actually way hotter than it sounds., even if it’s not FDIC insured.)

Elyse

Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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67 Comments

  1. I think the statement is ridiculous on such a huge scale that listing here the many many ways in which it is ridiculous would be… well kind of silly because of how long the list would be.

    I do think love can conquer fear. And I think that is the big one.

    Call me cynical, but I am not sure if it conquers anything else.

  2. Ok, and I didn’t mean for that to sound all “down with people in love” or anything… Love is great, there is no denying that. I just think there are so many other great things as well that it sometimes bugs me when all the emphasis gets put on love.

    And I think I am totally missing the point of your AI.

    /left over residual Valentine’s Day Anti-mush kicking in here.

  3. I’m already off topic, but your question led my mind to the Christian notion that Jesus/God loves us “unconditionally”…but then they put this outrageously difficult condition on it, that thou shalt believe in fairy tales. Maybe love conquers logic.

  4. @wet_bread: Yes, I have wondered about that type of love myself.

    God love you no matter what but he is perfectly willing to let you suffer and live in eternal pain if you don’t do what he wants you to do.

    People try to explain that away by comparing it to a parent who has to discipline an errant child… and all I can think of is that if my folks were okie dokie with letting me suffer forever, then I would seriously think I have good reason to doubt that they love me in the first place.

  5. if love conquered all then I’m sure divorce rates would be lower.

    Really all love actually conquers is rational thought for a brief period of time. It’s not unlike a drug that will allow you to make foolish decisions like becoming a vampire when you’re only 16.

    But I am a fan of many drugs and love is one of them. Who needs reality all the time.

  6. Two words : unrequited love.

    Perhaps its just my inner (and bitter ? :p) nerd but, mostly for the reason above, I always thought that this cultural emphasis on a feeling that seems both so fleeting and so linked to mere hormones was a little scary.

  7. Love, love will keep us together
    Think of me babe whenever
    Some sweet talking girl comes along singing her song
    Don’t mess around,
    You gotta be strong
    Just Stop [stop], ’cause I really love You
    Stop [stop], I’ll be thinking of you
    Look in my heart and let love keep us together

  8. Agreed that love doesn’t conquer ALL.

    However there are some things that it trumps. Beauty, for example. Every couple (well… every happy couple) thinks their partner is the most beautiful person in the world despite their flaws. Every parent feels this way about their child as well.

    I could have a giant wart on my nose, lopsidded boobs, crossed eyes and a pile of poo on my head and my husband would still think I’m beautiful because he loves me.

  9. as someone else mentioned divorce. i’ve known people who get divorced yet both say & act like they still love the other person, but they just can’t stand to live in the same house.

    sometimes it’s easier to love/deal with someone when you don’t see them almost constantly. srsly sometimes dating is the best option. you get to go out on dates, you get the sex, but you don’t have to worry so much about the how other person spends their money, you get to use all the rooms of your dwelling, decorate them how you want (which includes not decorating them), cancel the cable w/o consulting someone else . you can spend your money how you want without both people constantly telling the other your being foolish. or something like that.

  10. @TheCzech: I think the Victorian’s were on to something.

    We don’t just want to love… we want to be loved in return. It isn’t enough to say “I love you” and have the other person say “Thanks” or “I’m trying to feel the same way about you” or “Cool!” We want them to say “I love you to”

    Why?

  11. @Frankiemouse: The Victorians seemed to prefer the sucky version of a lot of things.

    @Kaylia_Marie: To be honest, I suspect that Victorians thought unrequited love was better because there was no actual fucking.

    (The classical Greeks thought that the purest form of romantic love could only occur between and adult man and a young boy. I’m not endorsing that ether…)

  12. Unrequited love has perks which other circumstances lack. I’ve always found it easier to bear the indifference of a single person than the indifference of the entire eligible population.

    Every state of being has its compensations, as a comic book once told me.

    @Frankiemouse:

    I could see sharing a house or a flat with somebody, but being roommates with a lover sounds like a terrible idea. I mean, I toss and turn; I keep odd and irregular hours; I’m told I snore. Honestly, who would want to deal with that? And why risk ruining a good thing just because you’re “supposed to” share a bed even when you’re doing nothing but sleeping?

    Greta Christina explains the issue with greater facility than I.

  13. Ah. “Love conquers all”, one of the most misunderstood phrases in history. Putting on my nerd hat, the phrase is originally from the poem “Eclogue X” by Virgil, and in the latin is “Omnia vincit Amor”. And contrary to popular belief, it does not mean that the love between two people will conquer all impediments, but rather that everyone is conquered *by* love. The rest of the line is “et nos cedamus amori” which means “let us all yield to love”.

  14. Feh– Love is nothing but a judicious admixture of vasopressin, oxytocin, phenylalanine, and testosterone; all filtered through the hippocampus and caudate nucleus! –Feelings of romantic love commence
    in the region of the lower brain that is known as the hypothalamus. The
    hypothalamus is composed of a dense cluster of nerves which controls
    hundreds of bodily functions and impacts in a large host of ways the
    entire nervous system. Whenever a person subjectively perceives another
    human being as romantically appealing a portion of the hypothalamus
    transmits a message by way of various chemicals to the pituitary gland.
    And in turn the pituatary releases a host of its own hormones which
    rapidly suffuse the entire bloodstream. The sex glands respond to these
    hormones by rapidly releasing into the bloodstream their own hormones
    which have the effect, even among preadolescent children, of creating a more
    rapid heartbeat and a feeling of lightness in the head. Simultaneously
    the nerve pathways in and around the hypothalamus produce chemicals
    that induce-provided that these chemicals continued to be produced over
    a long period of time-what people refer to as “falling in love”.

  15. Love doesn’t conquer death, or bullet for that matter. You may love your angry chimp, but a couple of bullets will kill him. You continue to love him, but he stays dead.

    Love does however conquer cleanliness, and sanitation. You love someone, throw poo that them!

  16. @infinitemonkey:

    So I initially read that as “Love also conquers unicorns.” I was eager to see where you were going when you said “You may love a man in….” then I realized my mistake.

    Still dirty and clever, but not nearly as dirty and clever as my mind wanted it to be.

  17. @blu:

    That is really interesting. Thank you for clearing that up!

    However, the fact remains that plenty of people believe that love conquers all things rather than people.

    Though, I can say that without my husband, I don’t know how I would have gotten through the rougher patches of the last few years.

  18. @TheCzech: People have poor memories and tell fibs so we really don’t know what anyone back then was thinking, only what they said they were thinking and sorting out what anyone was actually doing is nearly as difficult to ascertain. I’ll go with Bonaparte on this one and say history is a lie agreed upon.

    Si nos tribuo nostrum mens delecto nostrum repono ero nusquam tamen connubialis.

  19. @TheCzech: I love the interpretation that the Victorians preferred unrequited love for its lack of actual sex :D

    I wonder what abstinence education proponents would prefer… although, on second thought, isn’t loving god and/or jesus the ultimate form of unrequited love ? It’s not like either of them are going to be loving anyone back any time soon ! ;)

  20. Love doesn’t conquer hunger. You can love someone all you want. But if you’re both stranded on a desert island with nothing to eat, you’ll eventually experience death and/or cannibalism. Although, I suppose if it’s the latter, then you could argue it’s a way to closer to each other.

  21. Sure, love CONQUERS All, but it has a hell of a time maintaining its grip. Supply lines get so long as to be unmanageable, then you get resistance fighters and insurgencies. The citizens of All refuse to pay taxes, then they start organizing massive street protests that end in rioting.

    Then the West starts arming the guerrillas, and before you know it Love’s forces have been ground down and defeated, its local government deposed and replaced by representatives of Boredom and Bitterness. Love withdraws in disgrace.

    On the march home, Love often forms a temporary alliance with Lust to occupy Someone Convenient, only to find that the location isn’t all that strategic and the locals just aren’t as interesting as the folks in All. That alliance disintegrates, and Love winds up back where it started, in an uneasy and often contentious partnership with Self.

  22. The one that gets me is is a distressingly persistent variation on a theme.
    If I love him/her enough, s/he’ll become a better person.
    If the relationship is bad, it’s because my love isn’t strong enough.
    I can’t leave him/her even though s/he’s making me miserable – s/he loves me!
    And of course the one Skepchick readers are now oh-so-familiar with, No matter how creepy or even dangerous s/he acts, it’s okay, because we’re in love.

  23. @Indigo: Come to think of it, that rhetoric seems to be applied to god and faith pretty often, too… if miracles don’t happen, it’s because you don’t believe enough; if jesus doesn’t show up to prove his existence to you, it’s because you don’t have enough faith, etc.

    Yeah, I know, the relationship between blind love and faith should probably be obvious but hey, cut me some slack, I’m a third generation atheist and I barely know any religious people (thankfully ?) !

  24. @Bethor: It’s the perfect scam at the heart of every faith structure, from religion to The Secret. If you get what you want, the system worked. If you don’t, it’s your fault for not doing it hard enough.

    Although religion has the additional out of the “mysterious ways” addendum. If you didn’t get what you wanted, it’s because the invisible sky-grandpa knew what was best for you, and said no.

    True love is kind of the popular media version. In the movies, if you just believe hard enough, you’ll wind up in love [bed] with the person of your dreams. Otherwise, your life will be hollow and empty and worthless, and you’ll die bitter and lonely in a one-bedroom apartment with 30 year-old newspapers and two dozen cats.

  25. In the era when Hollywood can make a successful movie out of a rom-com called, “He’s Just Not That Into You,” wouldn’t you say love itself is kind of conquered? I think this is the ultimate skeptical question — it is the one area that EVERYONE will disregard evidence and reason, usually with a smile.

  26. @James Fox: Go wash your keyboard out with soap for channeling “The Captain and Tenille.”
    :-D

    @blu: Thank you. That makes far more sense than the traditional explanation.

    As Spock once said: “Love. Humans do claim a great deal for that emotion.”
    The Lights of Zetar

    Spock: “After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true. ”
    Amok Time

  27. Love doesn’t conquer fear. If anything it reinforces fear. Fear that the one you love won’t love you. Fear that the one you love will come to harm. Pleae don’t let my children suffer. Please let my wife make it home safe. Please let her infatuation with that guy be a passing thing. Please let my children finish college before they make me a grandfather. Please let me be a good father. Please let me be a good husband. Love binds us to fear. The fear of loss. The fear of failure.

  28. @TheCzech: Well, that explains it. Here I thought I was just colorblind.

    I like the explanation @blu gave, makes a lot more sense.

    Unfortunately, most people I know who use this phrase are the same family/friends who find it tragic that I’m in my mid-30s and single. :P

  29. Clergyman: Then wove, twue wove, will follow you fowever…
    Clergyman: So tweasure youw…
    Humperdinck: [interrupting] Skip to the end!
    Clergyman: Have you the wing?
    Buttercup: Here comes my Wesley now.
    Humperdinck: Your Wesley is dead. I killed him myself.
    Buttercup: Then why is there fear behind your eyes.
    Clergyman: Do you Pwincess Buttecwup…
    Humperdinck: [annoyed] Man and wife! Say man and wife!
    Clergyman: Man and Wife.
    Humperdinck: Escort the bride to the honeymoon suite. I’ll be there shortly.
    Buttercup: He didn’t come…

  30. Sorry I’m late! I’ve been working!But someone has to because Love don’t….
    Love does not conquer restraining orders…that’s good…
    Love is a crazy set of chemicals…buzzing around in my body…yep agreed
    Love is blind…hardly…Love is ugly…probably.
    God is Love….hmmm don’t agree with that. But God gives people the rationalization to love.
    Love is unconditional…Ha! Well, mine is..but which kind of love is that? I love my friends without conditions. I love my family as long as I can stand them.
    BTW, why is it that you have to sleep I mean really sleep with your Lover? Can’t you just kick boots then go back to your bunk? Although that lingering is rather nice. Does love conquer all? I think love of one’s self conquers much. I think that being trapped in society’s fantasy of love is dangerous. Being in a violent relationship and staying because you “Love them” is beyond reason. And I don’t think that is Love. Being lonely and constantly reminded by everyone around you that no matter how much you accomplish…no matter if you discover the cure for the common cold..save children from polio …or mend the ozone’s hole, you are incomplete because you don’t have this Love. That doesn’t show any Love to me. No not love …but compassion…that conquers all. Compassion means “with suffering” ..when I can walk in your shoes…I understand you. …understanding comes from the brain…so I can get with that…if we understood and respected others this stupid rock we live on would be better. Love is a burden, a duty, its heat in your pants and sweat on your face. Its chills and a stomach ache…and relief…all at once…its a “fix” for your addiction. But needed, to bond the human race.

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