Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Yeah, I Need Love

"Simply put, Pauls are lovers. They cannot function without love. Pauls are hopeless romantics - and they are annoyingly codependent girlfriends, boyfriends, and spouses." (Jaquette, Beatleology, p. 62)

Ah, the hopeless romantics. Where would the world be without them and their constant output of silly love songs, poetry, and sentimentalism? But the Inner Paul sign can truly be a double-edged sword, because romanticism itself can be a double-edged sword. There's nothing wrong with a good dose of sentimentalism, but when it begins to manifest itself in the form of codependency, it's time to step back and consider a few things.

There is a somewhat common theme in love songs, and it's a theme that presents an interesting paradox: the notion of possession. It's a recurring refrain in many Beatles lyrics: "I'm so proud to know that she is mine" (Good Day Sunshine), "Now you're mine" (Ask Me Why), "You'll be mine, girl" (Things We Said Today), "We'll have some fun when you're mine, oh, mine" (Little Child), "Let me know that you're mine" (Twist and Shout), "It's getting better since you've been mine" (Getting Better). I suppose, as a wind-swept romantic notion, it's alright - perhaps even expected. There is some element of exclusivity in the arena of real love: I'll be yours and yours alone, if you'll be mine and mine alone.

The potential difficulty here, however, is that possession doesn't work out very well in the real world of actual relationships. If I am in a relationship, the first and foundational truth is that I am in that relationship with another person, and the concept of possession does not apply. I can possess an object, but not a person. What becomes of the idea of exclusivity, then? This is the constant tension in any healthy relationship: if he belongs to her, and she belongs to him, it is only because both of them, as autonomous individuals, have voluntarily chosen to stay with the other person. The flip side is that either person can voluntarily choose to leave at any time, because neither person truly surrenders their autonomy. This on-going tension is precisely what highlights the truth of real love: it must be rooted in trust. He cannot truly possess her, even though in some ways that might put him more at ease. He can only trust that she will stay. As long as both of them remain where they are, they will always be together, but it will not be because one of them has claimed ownership of the other.

The manifestation of codependency in a relationship, which is rooted in an attempt to possess the other person, is really a revelation of insecurity at best, or outright distrust at worst. She does not fully trust that he will stay, and so she attempts to possess him more firmly, as a way to make up for the deficiency of trust. He lacks self-security, and worries that her interests in other things outside of their relationship indicate a lack of interest in him, and so he tries to cling harder to her in order to fill the internal void.

This is the gist of the Inner Paul's paradox. His frequent expressions of love and sentimentality are not bad things, in themselves, but he must make an effort to be aware of his motives. She may call him five times a day, but why is she doing it? Is it because she was thinking about him, and just wanted to tell him "I love you"? Or is it because she's nervous that they haven't talked in a few hours, and she needs to know where he is and what he's doing (which is a way of retaining control)?

There's a fine line between the chaos of possession and the creation of sentimentality. The Inner Pauls of the world are full-to-overflowing with love, which means that "they need to not only feel love but give love constantly." (Jaquette, Beatleology, p. 63) This can be a great strength in a relationship, because the relationship will never be lacking the spark of those first, heady days when love was new. But if this personality trait is not tempered and kept in check, it can smother and ultimately destroy the relationship.

If you are in a relationship with an Inner Paul, you should be aware of his or her need for frequent reassurance and gestures of love, and celebrate your partner's sentimental and romantic streak. If you are an Inner Paul, you need to be aware of your "smothering potential", and check your motives once in a while: are you sending him flowers because you love him and just wanted him to know that, or is it because you're afraid of losing him and you're trying to keep him tethered to you? Try to take a step back and remind yourself that your partner is a person and not an object to be possessed, knowing that if you treat her and honor her as a person, she will never have a reason to look elsewhere for the love that you so naturally are able to express.

blog comments powered by Disqus