The following are approximately the first 1000 words from Chapter 7 of Jonar Nader’s book,
How to Lose Friends and Infuriate Lovers.
Madly in love:
From heartache to headache
Madness and craziness are mental disorders that have been loathed and feared for centuries. Understandably, we would not voluntarily befriend anyone who is mad or crazy — not unless they are madly in love with us, or crazy about us. This level of mania might seem sweet and touching, but it can be deceptive.
As you know, ‘mania’ refers to excessive excitement or abounding enthusiasm. Anyone who has an abnormal compulsion (such as a person who exhibits an extreme love for another person) is said to be manic.
Mania connotes vibrancy, yet it is also the name of the ancient Roman goddess of the dead. How can a word refer to both vibrancy and death? Aren’t these concepts opposites of each other? Perhaps one leads to the other. A deep love can drive people insane. The point at which love and madness collide, is the point where a ravenous devotion is born into an insufferable inferno.
We promote passion, yet we warn about obsession. We expect complete surrender, yet we worry about fixation. We want love to be all-embracing, so long as it is not all-consuming. In the end, however careful we might be, it is never ‘real’ unless it hurts, because the real-deal hurts on the way in and on the way out. (For an explanation about who is likely to get hurt, see Chapter 8, ‘Grade distinctions’.)
There is something suspicious about a painless affair. Steady love is too temperate, and it smacks of a calculating relationship that resembles a business contract with unfair escape-clauses and copious fine-print. All contracts are lopsided protection-mechanisms design to punish the wayward. The one who stands to benefit the most, gets to draft the legalese. The person who is coerced to accept the ‘terms and conditions’ is likely to do so under duress or delusion.
Relationships that are based on a raft of conditions are doomed, because the propensity for deviation is threateningly high — otherwise, there would be no need for the stipulations. People who enter into relationships that are encumbered by a contractual framework are not in love, simply because love is unconditional. Furthermore, genuine love, apart from it being free from stipulations and constraints, is also non-negotiable. With this in mind, who would want to be subjected to the wrath of unconditional and boundless love? It’s scary. It’s risky. It’s insane. It’s uneconomical. It’s totalistic. It’s distracting. No-one in their right mind would wilfully surrender to love.
When love strikes, it controls. Notice the violent language of warfare — to strike and control. For this reason, Cupid’s first mission is to separate the heart from the head by dulling the victim’s intellect via a neurological agent that disconnects the cables. In this way, the sedated head can no longer ask the logical and rational questions. By isolating the head, Cupid paves the way for the heart to rule. It’s shocking. It’s reckless. It’s inscrutable. It’s unaffordable. It’s tyrannical. It’s detrimental. No-one in command of their faculties would intentionally concede to love, notwithstanding those who embark on self-serving transactions and hunting missions.
Love is generous, not domineering. Personally-satisfying or ingratiating interactions are the shadows of casual affairs. Love is never casual. Love is not even a conscious instigation. It is akin to duty born of compulsion. It’s scary and shocking. It’s risky and reckless. It’s insane and inscrutable. It’s uneconomical and unaffordable. It’s totalistic and tyrannical. It’s distracting and detrimental. No-one of soundness would consciously subscribe to love. It’s always the result of a malfunction.
Love resembles a war-cry that warns of imminent death — the death of the self, and the protection of another’s head. Love-songs would have us believe that our objective is to win the heart of another. Are you sure that’s what you’d want to do? What use is a second mesmerised heart? Nay, my heart aches for another who, hopefully, wants me by choice. I want a partner who desires me with all conscience, intellect, and logic. Ah, my fluttering heart for a steady head — a perfect match, because that’s how our biology works. We need a head and a heart. The giver and the taker. The yin and the yang. The night and the day. The lover and the lovee.
I can hear your questions: is that not a one-way communications network? Is this not a win-lose combination? Shouldn’t I try to secure the other person’s heart? No. That is not your job. By all means, the ultimate magic would be the criss-crossing of connections. There would be nothing sweeter than the union of two heads intertwined with two respective hearts. Such blissful unions are so few and far between, that I am not addressing them in this book. It would require sophistication beyond my humble intellect to speculate how divine friendship can co-exist with peaceful harmony. The fanciful notion of sublime harmony has eluded me, and every person I have ever known. Many years ago, I met an eighty-six year old lady with whom I happened on the subject of love. She described her own, and painted the perfect picture. She sparked some jealousy in me about her fairytale love-affair. If I were not there to hear her testimony, I would never have believed it. She spoke of bliss personified. Her admiration for her husband was such that I could not wait to meet him. It would have been my first archaeological discovery — two people whose head and heart were intertwined. With teary eyes, she announced, as if for the first time, that her lover had died fifty years ago. I could not be sure how much of her romantic memories were embellished by a yearning for her departed companion. Perhaps the span of time, and his absence, and her loyalty, had spawned an elaborate and flawless virtual friendship that had fused with distant dreams and endless hope to form an on-going relationship in the mind of this lady who prayed daily to be re-united with her partner.
The chances of the mirrored criss-cross happening to you or to me are so remote, that we are better off not allowing ourselves to be distracted from the task at hand — to learn how to surrender our hearts to trustworthy heads. What’s the benefit in that? The union of a heart with a head becomes a love-connection — we become their heart, in the same way that they become our head. This is trust. This is commitment. And if the parties are compatible, this is nourishment.