How to live off of love? (Zoran Milivojević)

While popular culture promotes the belief that one cannot live off of love, romantic films, media and romance novels make people believe the opposite. On the other hand, modern day man, being under pressure from existential problems, fast paced life and instant solutions, tends to choose solitude more often than before or chooses to stay in unfinished and failed relationships. Many people are disappointed, they don’t believe in loyalty, the one between partners, the one at work or the one between friends.zoranmilivojevic
-Disappointment is a consequence of idealization. It is on the opposite side of the spectrum of those states that we refer to as being smitten or enchanted; and “to be enchanted” basically means to be under a spell or magical influence, a situation in which a person loses their ability to think clearly – psychotherapist Zoran Milivojević explains. – Each time we get disappointed, it means that we misjudged others, that we had too big of expectations and that we are surprised once we finally come to see the reality of things. Loyalty is the greatest in the “survival zone” because that is where it has a purpose. The strongest bonds there are the ones between relatives and neighbors, but once people get rich enough, they stop needing others and so these bonds get looser and looser. This is especially evident in urban areas where people lead individualistic lifestyles, mind their own business and care for their own interests. Their thought process looks something like this: Why should I stand up to my boss and cover for my colleague and cause myself problems with my boss in the future? Even though they see the injustice, they stay silent and mind their own business out of being afraid for their own position and interest.
Is it possible to regain lost trust and is it always the case that the person who has betrayed you once will surely do it again?
-We know that trust is easy to lose, but very difficult to earn back. In order to forgive someone, that person needs to admit that they have made a mistake, apologize and promise that they will never do it again. And then it takes time for us to make sure that the person is committed to keeping up that promise. So it is possible to earn back trust, but not as simple.
How fulfilled and happy are those who decide to stay with their partners (in marriage or emotional relationship) out of interest and what kind of message do they send to their children with this?
-It is hard to define interest. There are theories about love that say that we always pick a person for our partner based on what we have to gain from the relationship: it is either about us feeling good in their company or some other kind of gain. Those theories bring love down to egoism of two people. I say this just so that people understand that they should not judge others so lightly. The decision whether to leave someone or stay in a relationship with them depends on many factors. It is always a deeply intimate decision of an individual and it should be respected. People find it strange that a person would stay in a relationship in which they themselves would not stay even for a minute longer, but people are different and those differences should be respected.
At what kinds of crossroads and dealing with what kinds of misconceptions are the ones who believe that they can “live off of love”?
-Many young people go into relationships with idealistic ideas and think that true love is all it takes for a harmonious life with someone. I often say that “love” and “loving relationship” are not the same thing. This is the most obvious in couple therapy or marriage therapy, where you can see people who love each other so dearly, but have such different ideas about what a relationship or marriage is supposed to be like and that stands in the way of them forming a functional, stable and long-term relationship. And that is why, when a person loves someone, they should make sure what the other person’s idea about how relationships and marriage should work is, what their ideas about those are. That is why we say that love is not enough, that a person should find someone who is serious about committing and has ideas about relationships that work well with theirs.

Photo:Dario Konstantinović

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