Love and also?
April 5, 2009 3:10 AM   Subscribe

"All you need is love." I need to find an empathetic rebuttal/clarification to this.

I know by now that you need more than love to keep a relationship going. When talking about this, I would like to disagree with or clarify this idea, without coming across as "[ominous tone] Oh you'll learn. You'll learn." It's a smug approach and I dislike it.

In other words, if someone offers up this idea, I would like to find a way to say it that preserves the hope of the phrase without seeming to cover up some other basic truths about human relationships.
posted by twins named Lugubrious and Salubrious to Grab Bag (41 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Love & patience.
posted by fatllama at 3:31 AM on April 5, 2009

Seconding patience. (As does my other half, who also adds '& a sense of humour'.)
posted by i_cola at 3:36 AM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Love as the reason to go to the trouble of doing the rest
posted by koahiatamadl at 3:40 AM on April 5, 2009 [2 favorites]

'Maybe, but love itself turns out to be much more demanding, and more fragile, than one typically expects.'
posted by jon1270 at 4:00 AM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

I would say it's true, in the poetic sense that if you have love, that's all you need to be happy. Everything else works itself out.

(Sort of like the instructions for putting together furniture- "all you need is a screwdriver! [but pliers and a vice sure would make it easier].")

But it's not true in the reverse, or the famous "correlation isn't causation"- love doesn't make everything else irrelevant or somehow suddenly better. Going out and finding love won't cure what ails you. Or that lacking love, you are somehow missing something you need. Or that losing love is necessarily a bad thing.

And it's not a universal truth, or as an admonishment- it's not true in the literal sense that if you have love, you don't need food or shelter. And you can't go around telling people not to worry about corporeal needs and that they should focus exclusively on love.

(Although I suppose the religious-minded could look at it as "all you need is [god's] love" and take that as a universal truth- if you are loved by god, he will provide everything else you need. So don't piss Him off.)

But yes, it is true- as long as you take it as a soothing reminder to cherish the love we have and to find comfort in it when the going gets tough.
posted by gjc at 4:01 AM on April 5, 2009

Faith, food, shelter and a good water source.
posted by watercarrier at 4:04 AM on April 5, 2009

Was thinking of how best to put into words my answer to your question but koahiatamadl nailed it with this.

koahiatamadl: "Love as the reason to go to the trouble of doing the rest"

Indeed. All you need is love... and from that love you'll find yourself willing to do whatever else needs to be done.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:07 AM on April 5, 2009

...and good communication.
posted by aquafortis at 4:31 AM on April 5, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'm near the gjc camp on this one.

I've read it as true only in the sense that love is the only thing for which someone can "sanely" forsake all other things. That is, all you need is love, even if you won't only love for long without dying. I argue the same is true for all sorts of shit people obsess over: thrills, sex, cars, sports, murder for hire, accounting. But, selling an old family estate to buy all the surviving original Star Trek DS9 sets isn't nearly as socially acceptable as doing the same thing to buy your fiancée a kidney.

So, we romanticize lovers who give up their very lives to be in love. We think it's a charming story when somebody tells us how they pawned some shit to take a girl to a show. People take their lunch to work all week to afford fancy Friday night suppers with their spouses.

If you behave those ways toward, say, crack cocaine, people flip the fuck out. But, you can starve yourself to death outside your unrequited love's window as you pine away endless days doing that fucking thing with the boombox from the movie I've never seen... and people will write it up in the Life section of the local paper as some romantic sacrifice and shouldn't she be ashamed of herself for letting you starve?

So, the sentiment with which I've always come away from the aphorism is that if you love the hell out of somebody, you'd be perfectly happy living as an itinerant turd farmer if it meant you could maintain contact with and the pleasure of your beloved. And nobody's going to stop you, even if, by all rights, they ought to at least have a word with you.
posted by Netzapper at 4:52 AM on April 5, 2009 [2 favorites]

"That is, all you need is love, even if you won't only love for long without dying."

Oy, where's that 3-minute edit?
posted by Netzapper at 4:55 AM on April 5, 2009

I can't phrase it elegantly right now, but something like: love leads to good things, but it is itself the result and product of other good things, like being alive and not being constantly worried or in pain.
posted by amtho at 5:35 AM on April 5, 2009

"All you need is love, and food and drink" sounds much less poetic.
posted by yclipse at 5:38 AM on April 5, 2009

Paul Newman on his marriage to the lovely Joanne: "It has the correct amounts of lust and respect."
posted by meerkatty at 6:00 AM on April 5, 2009 [5 favorites]

The Yiddish proverb is "Love is good, but love and noodles is better".
posted by nonane at 6:02 AM on April 5, 2009 [9 favorites]

"Love may be all you need, but the bill collectors don't recognize it as a form of payment."
"Love, and maybe a pound of chocolates, and a sincere apology, now and again."
"Love is all you need? The Beatles broke up, you know."
"Love, and a few good dance steps"
posted by Acacia at 6:14 AM on April 5, 2009

Brief pause, followed by:

"... and happiness is a warm gun".
posted by Benjy at 6:39 AM on April 5, 2009 [2 favorites]

"Love doesn't mean what you think it does."
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:42 AM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Love is a verb, not a noun. You need commitment and perseverance to keep it going.
posted by alms at 6:49 AM on April 5, 2009 [6 favorites]

Love, honor, respect.
posted by watercarrier at 6:52 AM on April 5, 2009

You can't eat love. I mean, you can try, but you're looking at 25 to life and good luck getting a jury that doesn't freak out about the whole cannibalism thing.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:04 AM on April 5, 2009 [2 favorites]

"Yes, but that doesn't mean I'm going to tolerate a lot of bullshit."

"Yes, but if you're consistently being a jackass, I'm not going to love you."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:21 AM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

What the hell? You just want some counter-aphorism?

You say, "I know by now that you need more than love to keep a relationship going," and you claim "some other basic truths about human relationships." Presumably you have some sense of what those truths are, and can identify them from your own experience with more conviction than asking strangers to come up with their views.

This reflects my assumption that (a) lots more than love may be necessary (so "love and X" will have many solutions for X), or (b) love can be defined to include so many other characteristics (e.g., respect, patience) that fighting this saying is like doing battle with the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 7:41 AM on April 5, 2009

how about ".. yeah, yeah, yeah..."
posted by mrmarley at 7:55 AM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

"Just give me money. That's what I want."
posted by No-sword at 7:58 AM on April 5, 2009

Some friend's parent used to say --

"And the key to love is a short-term memory."
posted by salvia at 8:33 AM on April 5, 2009

"Love don't pay the bills."
posted by lullaby at 8:47 AM on April 5, 2009

"No, love is all you want."
posted by coppermoss at 9:06 AM on April 5, 2009

"All you need is love" ... and perpetually smooth skin and perky breasts?
posted by jayder at 9:18 AM on April 5, 2009

Kissin' don't last. Cookin' do.
posted by rdc at 9:53 AM on April 5, 2009 [2 favorites]

The snappy rebuttal.
posted by rainy at 9:58 AM on April 5, 2009

I've enjoyed the line "all you may need is love, but love is not what you think" the latter part comes from a book of poetry by Jessamyn West [the other, not me].
posted by jessamyn at 10:10 AM on April 5, 2009

In the movie sugar and spice (I believe) one girl says "love won't buy my baby diapers" and proceeds to commit armed robbery.
posted by debbie_ann at 10:28 AM on April 5, 2009

Love don't pay the rent.
posted by ambient2 at 10:55 AM on April 5, 2009

All you need is love but but reality is so much healthier....
posted by Weaslegirl at 11:30 AM on April 5, 2009

Indoor plumbing.
posted by liketitanic at 11:44 AM on April 5, 2009

I think that the chase for pithy one-line proverbial rebuttals to one-line axioms is a fool's errand, in general. People who try to sum up the biggest questions in life with some quotation or other are usually incredibly superficial assholes.

Of course, you could stare at them and then say, in a voice lowered as though you were terribly embarrassed for them, "You do know that love is only level 3 on Maslow's hierarchy of needs, right?" Done right, this should make them feel like a puppy who's been halted in the middle of playing to have its nose rubbed in a pile of poo.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:08 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

"Sometimes love is not enough." That makes me think of people who love each other very much, but for whatever reason can't make it work. Usually something is unhealthy in their dynamic that isn't anyone's "fault," per say, but still gums up the works. It may sound smug to some, but I think a lot depends on tone and context.
posted by katemcd at 4:53 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

My mother always said it's just as easy to fall in love with the conductor as it is to have a fling with the second violin.

Does that help? (My mother was very wise. I married the conductor)
posted by nax at 6:48 PM on April 5, 2009

I don't know that the Beatles intended this to mean romantic love at all. I think they were well into a sort of cosmic phase at this point and may have intended some kind of general all-embracing spiritual love of the universe type shtick, picked up from their guru and their dabbling in Hindu ideas. So don't take it necessarily to refer to a limiting statement about the requirements for personal relationships.
posted by zadcat at 9:39 PM on April 5, 2009

If you were to ask me in terms of relationships (and I have now been in the same one for over 20 years) I would say that you need a sense of humour, tolerance, compassion and flexibility, and you need a roof over your head and food in your belly.

As zadcat said, the Beatles did not mean romantic love (or not solely romantic love). One of the best rebuttals I've ever seen was on a Beatles doco called It Was 20 Years Ago Today, which focused on the year 1967 and the counterculture movement. At the end they asked each of the participants "Is love all you need?" The responses (paraphrased because I'm doing this from memory) included Abbie Hoffman, who said "this is the flaw in Beatle politics; you also need justice"; and Peter Coyote said you need "love of the universe"; and someone else, I don't remember who, who said "No, you need truth, truth is all you need". But my favourite was Derek Taylor (the Beatles' press officer) who said "You also need sobriety, and a lot of positive energy, and you need to know where your next meal is coming from". I like that.
posted by andraste at 9:48 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Wow, I've been out for most of the day and didn't have to time to chime in earlier but these are better starting points leading into a discussion than I've been able to come up with.

Netzapper: HAH! I have to point to Romantic-Comedy Behavior Gets Real-Life Man Arrested again.

Clyde Mnestra: Actually I wanted the exact opposite of a counter-aphorism; I didn't expect anyone to take my title as a jumping-off point. I was looking for a way to organize my own thoughts so that I could actually consider what to say in a conversation instead of spouting off some random platitudes. And if the apparently unclear wording of my post is any indication, I could definitely use some outside help. I was looking for thoughtful replies (however short or long) and I'm glad I'm getting them.

Thanks for the answers :-) Keep 'em coming if you have any more.
posted by twins named Lugubrious and Salubrious at 10:40 PM on April 5, 2009

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