In the comments to a poignant guest post by Cedar Sanderson on marriage, relationships, being denied happiness and finally finding it, “RES” coins what I would call “the negative Heinlein rule”.
Robert A. Heinlein famously defined love as the mental state in which “the happiness of another person becomes essential to your own”. RES instead proposed, “the state where another person’s pain is painful to you”.
This is reminiscent of the distinction between the Positive and Negative Golden Rules.
The Positive Golden Rule states: “Do as you would be done by”. If the person in question is a masochist who enjoys being tortured, I’ll pass.
The Negative Golden Rule, given here in its Talmudic formulation (Shabbat 31a), instead states: “That which is hateful unto you, do not do upon another. This is the whole Torah: the rest is [but] elaboration.”
On Heinlein’s original quote, commenter Wayne Blackburn reflects:
“Basically, the sentence is intended to impute a high, enduring correlation, as opposed to a weak and/or transient one. Once it is perceived that the partner is unhappy, the simple fact of working on correcting that difficulty can actually work to improve the emotional state of both. With a weak or transient correlation, there is not as much impulse to improve the other’s state of mind, as it does not impinge as strongly on your own.”
Marriage is a State of Mind – Cedar Sanderson
I have long been a fan of Dorothy Sayers. I don’t recall when I first read one of her books, but I know that I just recently read one of her essays on feminism and it sparked a thought – several thoughts, really – in my head. I wrote some of it down in Are Women Human? which is a composite of her essay of that title and my own thoughts.
As I was reacquainting myself with not only the fictional romance between Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane, but the true life of Dorothy Sayers, I was forced to reflect on my own life and relationships. There are some parallels to where I am now, and looking back, I can see clearly in hindsight where my path has taken me. You don’t see it, while you’re walking it. It’s only…
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