a former student of mine, who was at the time living with her lover, said during a discussion in a drama workshop/class one day, “somebody told me a while ago, when two lovers live together before they are married, the spontaneity and passion wears off by the time they get married.” i didn’t say anything in response – i let the other students in the class discuss the idea. at the time, we were discussing a play involving two lovers in an arranged love triangle. what that person told my student may be true. but, no two humans are ever the same – and in love, no two lovers can ever be the same. they may look alike, talk alike, be tall or short alike, be slim or fat alike, be light-skinned or dark-skinned alike, be rich or poor alike, but no two lovers are ever the same. we usually fall for the same type, but not the same person when we fall in love. what i didn’t say in that class was the fact that this student of mine didn’t realize that person just monkey-wrenched her relationship. time proved the majority impression of the class right – by the time we staged the performance, my student and her live-in lover were hardly on speaking terms. what, sadly, my student forgot was the fact that when you fall in love with a person, and they fall in love with you, you won’t lose yourself in love, because you will be an important part of that love and what makes it work – or destroys it. but the fear of losing one’s freedom plagues, and continues to plague lovers. freedom in love is a paradox. jean paul sartre (2003)[1] succinctly describes this paradox: “the lover… wants to be loved by a freedom but demands that this freedom as freedom should no longer be free. he wishes the other’s freedom should determine itself to become love –and this not only in the beginning of the affair but at each instant – and at the same time he wants this freedom to be captured by itself, to turn back on itself as in madness, as in a dream, so as to will its own captivity,” (231). now, let’s put together the ideas from what my student told the class, and what sartre says in this passage. for a lot of lovers possession and dependency are recurring themes in relationships. i am sure you either have been in a relationship or know that ‘cousin’ or ‘friend’ who was in a relationship that was started by two free individuals, but with time they both became each other’s prisoner – and, as they say, the rest is history. if you have been in a possessive relationship you will realize that the desire to possess each other (totally) can be a self-destructive path that may lead to a metaphorical or real death. also, sarte’s idea of a free uncommitted individual exists only in movies and books of fantasy. believe me, lovers are rarely free uncommitted beings. why? as members of a larger society, we all  are members of one or more social groups. that’s why for me, though freedom is like walking on a piece of land without fences – in love, however, fences abound aplenty – co-workers, family, friends and others who usually know what’s best for you, and sooner rather than later start to intrude into your love forte. that’s why love remains the best metaphor of paradox. when you fall in love, your freedom walks out of the door – period. to avoid this you need to exclude impediments (like shakespeare writes in sonnet 116), but how do you do this justly when we are all aware that in a dark corner lies, jealously – and possessive jealousy imprisons. here is a paradox. jealousy is actually a healthy human trait, it is possessive jealousy that is fatal. jealousy means you cherish that thing enough to want to protect it, possessive jealousy means you want to destroy it so it looks only appealing to you. this is the paradox that sartre writes about. to desire a free lover, you desire attachment to you, in desiring attachment to you, you create an unfree lover. does this make sense? do you see the paradox? let me underline this by citing from john donne’s poem, batter my heart, three-person’d god, “take me to you, imprison me, for i,/except you enthrall me, never shall be free,/nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.” this happens with some christians, to be free of sin, we desire god to possess us in all three dimensions – father (heart), son (body), holy ghost (soul). note, i say we desire. in other words, we choose to become free of sin by yielding our being totally to god. a self-desiring loss of freedom, if you will. in religion the belief in a supreme being is fulfilling in many ways. in love the belief in a supreme ‘being’ can be dangerous. in love, there is an alternative to the freedom sartre talks about – a dangerous alternative, if you ask me. that alternative is ‘fate’. how many times have you met someone who believed (i use past-tense here deliberately) that you and him/her were meant to be? (to be continued).

F-K 2016

[1] Priest, Stephen (Ed). (2003). Jean-Paul Sartre: Basic Writing. London: Routledge