Recipes for love and happy relationships with philosopher Alain de Botton

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Philosopher and writer Alain de Botton explains the complexities of love and relationships, and what dating apps get wrong in finding the ideal partner. Image by Good Studio/Shutterstock

Changes in society and culture have had significant impacts on our relationships and views on marriage. A hundred years ago, marriage was for security, a family, or even as a result of family pressure. Cultural shifts and emancipation, longer life expectancy, and dating apps have shifted that paradigm. 

So what do we look for in our relationships? Should a spouse be a soulmate, lover, and a best friend?  

While the complexities of modern love have opened up a whole new world, they’ve also brought disappointment and frustration. Has love lost its luster, or do we lose our way when we overfocus on the wrong things?  

“The School of Life: An Emotional Education” is a guide to exploring relationships. Photo courtesy of The School of Life. Photo of Alain De Botton by Vincent Starr.

Philosopher, co-founder and chairman of the School of Life Alain de Botton has made it his mission to teach philosophy's relevance to everyday living. His books include “Essays in Love,” “​​​​Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person,” and “How Proust Can Change Your Life.”  

Jonathan Bastian talks with de Botton about the societal pressures on the modern relationship, and hears advice on how to embrace imperfections in our partners, and allow for compassion and understanding. 

“A partner,” de Botton says, “should be able to forgive us for our strangeness and have tenderness for our most awkward sides.” 

And de Botton suggests an alternative to a candle-lit date night: 

“The most attractive thing that you can do to your partner is to start asking questions like, ‘How have I been frustrating you? What is it about our relationship that sometimes gets you down? What could we do better? What is it you still like about me? And how could I change to get things to go better for you?’” 

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Andrea Brody