Big children

Listening to an interview to Alain de Botton, I caught this part that really describes something that’s been on my mind lately.

One of the kindest things that we can do with our lover is to see them as children. And not to infantilize them, but when we’re dealing with children as parents, as adults, we’re incredibly generous in the way we interpret their behavior.

And if a child says “I hate you,” you immediately go, OK, that’s not quite true. Probably they’re tired, they’re hungry, something’s gone wrong, their tooth hurts, something. We’re looking around for a benevolent interpretation that can just shave off some of the more depressing, dispiriting aspects of their behavior. And we do this naturally with children, and yet we do it so seldom with adults. When an adult meets an adult, and they say, “I’ve not had a good day. Leave me alone,” rather than saying, “OK. I’m just going to go behind the facade of this slightly depressing comment…”

[…] We don’t do that. We take it all completely personally. And so I think the work of love is to try […] to go behind the front of this rather depressing challenging behavior and try and ask where it might’ve come from. Love is doing that work to ask oneself, “Where’s this rather aggressive, pained, noncommunicative, unpleasant behavior come from?” If we can do that, we’re on the road to knowing a little bit about what love really is, I think.

Except not just with your lover. It’s an interesting feeling when you start seeing everyone as bigger children, and their little and big reactions.

It makes it so much easier to have empathy for anyone when you see past their adult facade, and understand we're all just trying to figure out this thing called life, and trying to play the "being an adult" game.

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