‘Love in a Time of Loneliness: Three Essays on Drives and Desires’ by Paul Verhaeghe

First published by Other Press in 1999.


In Love in a Time of Loneliness, Paul Verhaeghe goes in search of the things that motivate us most yet paralyze us at the same time: love and sexuality. What has changed over recent decades in the ways the two sexes relate to each other? That question is the starting point for three critical treatments of contemporary sexual relationships between men and women, the aim being to identify those things that have not changed at all.

Verhaeghe looks into the differences between male and female sexual fantasies and recasts the Freudian anti­thesis, Eros and Thanatos, as a contrast between two different forms of sexual pleasure. The fact that this conflict between the forces of life and death largely plays itself out between men and women shows that the difference between the sexes goes much deeper than habitual role patterns, which are always tied to specific eras. And what do the Oedipus complex and power have to do with all this? Lastly he investigates why cultural changes, such as those introduced by the sexual revolution, have not only liberated male-female relationships but made them more problematic as well.

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