Love Lessons | Friedrich Nietzsche on Unhappy Marriages

Merriam Webster defines a friend as: 1. a person who you like and enjoy being with. 2. a person who helps or supports someone or something.

Friendship is a form of love, and is complimentary to romantic love, but isn't the same as romantic love. You can have romantic love without taking the time to develop a friendship of mutual interests and affection. We have the ability to love people we don't like. I call it polite tolerance.

In the case of our romantic relationships, love without a proper foundation built on mutual friendship starts off extremely fragile, like a decorative bouquet of crepe paper flowers. The slightest pull in any direction could cause an irreparable tear, and rip the relationship apart. The fabric of the relationship was not tough enough to keep the parties together and the smallest things could cause the relationship to become unraveled. Polite toleration is comparable to a tightrope when it comes to needing a bridge back to each other after the inevitable rifts all relationships will suffer at one time or another.

According to Nietzsche lack of friendship is one of the causes of unhappy marriages. He doesn't question the love present in the relationship, he assumes that there is love shared, but not liking your partner, not enjoying being with them and not sharing interests can naturally create unhappiness within the relationship. Add lack of support for each other and being and staying together could seem like an impossible task.

It's been my experience and observation that relationships that begin from genuine friendship first, create the most fulfilling experiences, and have the highest chance of actually lasting. The relationships that started off superficial, hot and heavy, passion driven without either party coming up for air, are exciting, fun and adventurous, but the time is never taken to really get to know each other, like each other and develop or discover other mutual interests outside the passion factor. The relationships don't have a fighting chance at survival. Unfortunately, more and more people are marrying without preparing and without forming lasting bonds with each other. The superficial wears off and so does the dophamine chemical released in our brains, that drugs us as we're falling in love.

The fabric we use to knit together our relationships form the bonds that ultimately make or break the relationship. Some bonds are more enduring than others. Many people underestimate the importance of actually "liking" the person you're with. It's important. You are very seldom friends with someone you don't like. Charles Caleb Colton says it best: "Friendship often ends in love. But love in friendship; never."

With Love & Gratitude,
~C. Nzingha