We’re a culture that’s highly attuned to what’s beautiful and moving about love; we know its high points and celebrate its ecstasies in films and songs. By comparison, work is the dull, tedious bit – the thing we have to do to pay the bills. And yet what’s striking is how often work, despite its lack of glamour, in fact, turns out to be the easier, more enjoyable, and ultimately more humane part of life when compared to ‘Finding Love’.
There are several reasons for us finding working being more manageable than loving:
- You have to be professional.
Work demands that all who walk through the office door must behave ‘professionally’. At work, you can’t really ‘be yourself’, and nor can others around you. This could sound a little fake but this lack of honesty may, in fact, be an extremely welcome development after we have spent a little too long in an atmosphere where everyone feels it their duty to be utterly frank, of their every inner mood and qualm. Rather at work, we are tempted to explode, but we handle ourselves with stoic calm and reserve.
- There is a training phase.
Most jobs assume that people who begin them don’t have the first clue about what’s going on. We’re not expected to know the machinery or the protocols by intuition alone! Therefore we’re sent on training programs and given extensive manuals to read. It might be two years before we’re supposed to understand very much at all.
On the other hand, there is no such luxury for lovers, who are meant to ‘get’ one another by immediate instinct and take this speedy comprehension to be proof of the sincerity of their love. Sometimes lovers will even say they just knew they were meant to be together because they could communicate ‘without needing to speak.’ But outside of the initial weeks of love, such Romantic aspirations are a pure catastrophe, which leads lovers to a bias against ever explaining themselves and their desires with appropriate patience and thoroughness.
Fatefully for our chances of happiness, love is understood to be an enthusiasm, rather than what it really is: a skill that needs to be learned.
- Feedback is more sensitive.
Everyone hates reviews at work, but at work, these feedbacks are steeped in a culture of tact. One rather tough remark has to be wrapped in at least seven compliments. Work culture knows that people don’t improve and can’t take new ideas on board if they are feeling threatened and humiliated.
We’re likely to feel that being taught anything by a lover contravenes the rules of love. We think we need to be loved just for being who we are. Though we are all of course very flawed, we imagine that love has nothing to do with education. That the lover who tries to point something out to us is therefore always just being nasty – rather than doing what all lovers should actually do! Which is trying their utmost to improve those they care for through lovingly-delivered lessons.
- You depend on a jobless.
We rely on work of course, but we’d survive if it came to an end. That’s not the feeling we often get around love, especially when there are a couple of kids and a mortgage in common. And the more we depend on someone, the more alarmed we get by any disappointment at their hands. We aren’t nastier around love per se; we’re just a whole lot more dependent – which can end up looking like the same thing.
- Work is just easier.
Running a nuclear power station or landing large jets is hardly simple but – one should insist – still very much easier than trying to be happy around another human being in a sexual relationship over many decades. There is simply nothing harder in this world, so complicated are we, so high are our expectations and so very poor is our Romantic culture at helping us to raise the quality of our levels of patience, our insights, and our feedback sessions
No wonder we’re often really quite happy when it’s finally Monday morning again and we can leave the house and do something properly simple with our lives once more.