In her essay “Against Love,” Laura Kipnis takes a critical stance on today’s idealism and worship of love, and instead explores a more cynical perspective on society’s notions and practices of romantic relationships. Kipnis’ argument is that love costs more than it is worth, as the compromises that must be made in romantic relationships often take priority over one’s own self-fulfillment. In “Against Love,” humans are portrayed as freely complying subjects living beneath the all-powerful dictatorship of their romantic partner, and according to Kipnis this restrains people from the happiness that they could achieve on their own. Love means sacrificing things for another person and frequently prioritizing the other person’s needs over one’s own. Therefore, while a person may feel as though their love for another person is the thing that brings them the most happiness, Kipnis maintains that they are likely giving up more than they gain. It is this that communicates her main point that love, in essence, is synonymous with subjugation.
Kipnis’ argument has a great deal of truth in it, romantic relationships do in fact require sacrifice and hyperawareness of the other’s needs. However, I find that her apparent concept of a relationship is very singular and specific. Her idea of what a relationship is like seems to always involve a partner playing a dominant role that overtakes every minute aspect of the other’s life. Not to say that relationships like this don’t exist, however Kipnis’ description of what she perceives a normal relationship to be like actually appears to me to be a very unhealthy relationship. While there will be certain norms in any given relationship such as each partner sharing an even amount of chores and such, other things that Kipnis generalized to all relationships included things that are not necessarily expected in each relationship. For example, she says that when you have a significant other you can’t go out without them because it’s rude. This is not a concept that can really be applied to relationships in general. Different couples have different methods of communication and different things that they find acceptable and unacceptable, and in my opinion this is greatly overlooked in “Against Love.” Thus, it is incorrect to assume that all romantic couples are essentially the same, and with that it is also therefore incorrect to assume that love is always synonymous with subjugation.