I would like to do a brief reflection on the nature of loving relationships and the idea of the Eternal Honeymoon (influenced by a little Lacan). There is a ubiquitous fantasy, propagated across our culture, of a couple who are able to make each other whole, complete and fulfilled. Not surprisingly the stories that describe this vision tend to end at the moment when the couple meet: often signaled by the phrase, “and they lived happily ever after.” What this suggests is that, after all the dragons have been fought, the evil step mothers overcome and the curses broken, the couple melt into each others arms and… well presumably watch TV. The problem here is that, not only is such a view a type of fiction, but that it actually gets in the way of developing what might be a truly enriching, exciting and enduring relationship. A relationship what might well be a type of “eternal honeymoon,” not simply in the sense of it having the intensity of the honeymoon period, but more in the sense that it effectuates and extends the temporary state that is represented by the word “honeymoon,” a state that traditionally gives way to settling down.
In order to get to this type of relationship there must first be a crisis, a failure. This failure is one in which we realize that this idea of completing another is false. Yet it is this very failure that ultimately reveals a success (as Zizek would say), at least to those with eyes to see. This is something I would like to devote more attention to in the future, however for now I will simply outline the basic moves,
1. There is a gap that lies between us
This is the first manifestation of the traumatic failure. It is the point when one realizes that there are issues that get in the way of them becoming one with their beloved. Whether the two people are in an existing partnership, or unable to consummate their love, a crack is revealed that cannot but strike both as horrible. The fantasy we have is that this gap can be abolished, however despite those wonderful fleeting moments in which two lovers feel like extensions of each others being, the gap remains between two subjects.
2. There is a gap within me
This leads to a further horror. Namely that the gap which separates you from me exposes a gap that separates me from myself. It feels that the only way that I can close this inner gap is if I close the gap between myself and my lover, yet this gap cannot be filled in. The first gap is thus redoubled: I cannot be one with myself if I cannot be one with you.
3. There is a gap within you
The next step involves realizing that gap within you mirrors the truth of your beloved; that she is not at one with herself. This is also a profoundly difficult insight, not only because it involves the recognition that your beloved is also caught up in the impossibility of ultimate fulfillment, but that you cannot then be that which makes her whole. You cannot complete her anymore than creative work, children, travel, marriage, yoga or parties can.
4. The gap within each of us overlap
This however all opens up the possibility of turning these various failures into success through a change that happens at a purely formal level. For as I learn to embrace the insight that the gap that manifests itself between and within us is precisely what each of us share I can see that it is what brings us together. Our respective gaps overlap and we realize that we are unified in our restlessness, in our ongoing desire, in our frustrations and in our openness to the future. Far from idealizing “settle down” this leads to a dynamic type of romantic coupling that is fueled by ever-new challenges, political engagements and/or artistic expressions. None of which are embraced because of some idea that they will fulfill, but because they fuel the circuit of the couples insatiable desire. In short we discover a couple who are sated by their hunger.