Evolution of the Self

On the paradoxes of personality

Love Quotes: The Wisest, Wittiest . . . and Most Cynical

Romantic love: it inspires poets, philosophers, humorists--and skeptics.

Having reviewed many 100s of quotations on the wonders--and woes--of romantic love, here are some that I think represent the very best. At the same time that many of the quotes below celebrate the many joys of romantic--almost fairy-tale--love, they typically also demonstrate great awareness of its transience, its maddening let-downs and instability. The most cynical quotations, which (I admit) are well-exemplified here, may perhaps have been written by those who loved--and lost.

But win or lose, who could deny that romantic love is life's most spectacular adventure? When we're transported from living in 3-D to the awe-inspiring expansiveness of 4-D, unquestionably it's in the consciousness-altering intensity of being in love. As William Thackeray opined: "To love and win is the best thing. To love and lose, the next best." Of course, when love fails--whether it's through being rejected, or falling out of love--our immediate distress, disappointment (or disenchantment) can feel utterly devastating. So in the short run, "loving and losing" probably doesn't feel much like "second best" at all. Yet it's definitely true that no matter how romantic love ends, the experience is one that can enrich us and tell us something about ourselves that almost certainly we wouldn't have realized earlier.

All in all, I think most people (at least on reflection) would agree that the tender--or tumultuous--experience of loving was worth it. At its best, romantic love transmutes into something less fervent but more balanced and mature. And, at the same time it becomes less passionate, it evolves into something deeper and broader. And love, even at its worst, well, it's still a learning experience--a most valuable one, too, as long as you allow it to teach you what you need to know to be more successful next time.

It's fascinating to me how many of the following quotes have a paradoxical flavor to them. The altered mood--even state of being--linked to loving seems inherently to lend itself to all sorts of ironic observations. My hope is that in reading through these quotes, you'll experience some delightful ah-ha! moments--along with whatever sighs, grimaces, and head shakes come up as a result of remembering lost loves, crushed dreams, dashed hopes, and so on.

Finally, quite a few of these quotations may have a lot more to do with infatuation than love (romantic or otherwise). For I define "infatuation" quite literally: that is, to be made to act foolishly (i.e., as derived from the word "fatuous"). So, for instance, we have these two quotes: "Anyone can be passionate, but it takes real lovers to be silly" (Rose Franken), and "Love is being stupid together" (Paul Valery).

 But enough introduction already . . . enjoy! These choice quotations--from classic to contemporary--are (to me at least) not simply food for thought, but precious delicacies to be nursed and savored:


The sweetest joy, the wildest woe is love. ~ Philip James Bailey

 

Mysterious love, uncertain treasure, Hast thou more of pain or pleasure! . . . . Endless torments dwell about thee: Yet who would live, and live without thee! ~ Joseph Addison

Love spends his all, and still hath store. ~ Philip James Bailey

Could I love less, I should be happier now. ~ Philip James Bailey

Love is for fools wise enough to take a chance. ~ Anonymous

People who are sensible about love are incapable of it. ~ Douglas Yates

A heart that loves is always young. ~ Proverb

One's first love is always perfect until one meets one's second love. ~ Elizabeth Aston

Love at first sight is one of the greatest labor-saving devices the world has ever seen. ~ Anonymous

Love conquers all things except poverty and toothache. ~ Mae West

Love is a many splintered thing. ~ Proverb

Love and eggs are best when they are fresh. ~ Proverb

Love makes the time pass. Time makes love pass. ~ Proverb

There is love, of course. And then there's life, its enemy. ~ Jean Anouilh

Love is like dew that falls on both nettles and lilies. ~ Proverb

Love and relationships are truly one of the most paradoxical aspects of being human. For it is in love
that we find the greatest of strengths and the deepest of sorrows. Love can seem to be so fleeting and unachievable, yet it remains well within our reach if we only learn how to embrace its power. To experience true love, we must be willing to open ourselves up and sacrifice part of our heart and part of our soul. We must be willing to give of ourselves freely, and we must be willing to suffer. It is only when we expose our inner selves to the white hot flame of rejection, that love can burn so brightly as to join two souls, melding the two into one, creating a bond that joins forever. It is from this bond that we draw strength eternal and power everlasting. It is in this thing that we call love that we find the means to achieve greatness, both in ourselves and in our lives. ~ Anonymous

In this world of extremes, we can only love too little. ~ Rich Cannarella

Love is the word used to label the sexual excitement of the young, the habituation of the middle-aged, and the mutual dependence of the old. ~ John Ciardi

Love is a canvas furnished by nature and embroidered by imagination. ~ Voltaire

If there is anything better than to be loved it is loving. ~ Anonymous

Love built on beauty, soon as beauty, dies. ~ John Donne

He that falls in love with himself will have no rivals. ~ Benjamin Franklin

I never knew how to worship until I knew how to love. ~ Henry Ward Beecher

We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness, and call it love. ~ Anonymous

No one has ever loved anyone the way everyone wants to be loved. ~ Mignon McLaughlin

The one who loves less controls the relationship. ~ Anonymous

 

If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular? ~ Anonymous [frankly, I'm guessing that whoever came up with this one probably pleaded not to be identified!]

 

True love is when you put someone on a pedestal, and they fall--but you are there to catch them. ~ Anonymous

The woman cries before the wedding, the man after. ~ Proverb

Pleasure of love lasts but a moment, Pain of love lasts a lifetime. ~Jean Pierre Claris De Florian

Love won't be tampered with, love won't go away. Push it to one side and it creeps to the other. ~ Louise Erdrich

There is hardly any activity, any enterprise, which is started out with such tremendous hopes and expectations, and yet which fails so regularly, as love. ~ Erich Fromm

The love we give away is the only love we keep. ~ Elbert Hubbard

Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it's cracked up to be. That's why people are so cynical about it. . . . It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don't risk anything, you risk even more. ~ Erica Jong

We are not the same person this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person. ~ W. Somerset Maugham

Love is a temporary insanity, curable by marriage. ~ Ambrose Bierce

Romantic love is an illusion. Most of us discover this truth at the end of a love affair or else when the sweet emotions of love lead us into marriage and then turn down their flames. ~ Thomas Moore

Falling in love consists merely in uncorking the imagination and bottling the common-sense. ~ Helen Rowland

Falling in love doesn't kill people. Landing does. ~ Fang

Falling in love is so hard on the knees. ~ Aerosmith

Love isn't blind, it's retarded. ~ Don Foster & Susan Beavers

Love sought is good, but given unsought, is better. ~ William Shakespeare

There is no remedy for love but to love more. ~ Henry David Thoreau

When one is in love, one always begins by deceiving one's self, and one always ends by deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance. ~ Oscar Wilde

In dreams and in love there are no impossibilities. ~ Janos Arany

Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams. ~ Fyodor Dostoevski

When we want to read of the deeds that are done for love, whither do we turn? To the murder column. ~ George  Bernard Shaw

You know you're in love when you don't want to fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams. ~ Dr Seuss

After another moment's silence, she mumbled that I was peculiar, that that was probably why she loved me but that one day I might disgust her for the very same reason. ~ Albert Camus

The excesses of love soon pass, but its insufficiencies torment us forever. ~ Mignon McLaughlin

 

Once in awhile, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale. ~ Anonymous

Love is something far more than desire for sexual intercourse; it is the principal means of escape from the loneliness which afflicts most men and women throughout the greater part of their lives. ~ Bertrand Russell

It is an extra dividend when you like the girl you've fallen in love with. ~ Clark Gable

To love and to be loved is to feel the sun from both sides. ~ David Viscott

Love lasteth long as the money endureth. ~ William Caxton

When poverty comes in at doors, love leaps out at windows. ~ John Clarke

Many a man in love with a dimple makes a mistake of marrying the whole girl. ~ Stephen Leacock

Love is a fan club with only two fans. ~ Anonymous

Love is the irresistible desire to be desired irresistibly. ~ Louis Ginzberg

The only thing we never get enough of is love; and the only thing we never give enough of is love. ~ Henry Miller

Love consists in this, that two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other. ~ Ranier Maria Rilke

What most people need to learn in life is how to love people and use things instead of using people and loving things. ~ Anonymous

Love is the delightful interval between meeting a beautiful girl and discovering that she looks like a haddock. ~ John Barrymore

lovers alone wear sunlight. ~ e. e. cummings

In true love the smallest distance is too great, and the greatest distance can be bridged. ~ Hans Nouwens

Love doesn't make the world go 'round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile. ~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning

We are, each of us, angels with only one wing; and we can only fly by embracing one another. ~ Luciano de Crescenzo.

Love is not altogether a delirium, yet it has many points in common therewith. ~ Thomas Carlyle

People who throw kisses are hopelessly lazy. ~ Bob Hope

Forget love--I'd rather fall in chocolate! ~ Sandra J. Dykes

Love is a sweet tyranny, because the lover endureth his torments willingly. ~ Proverb

Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own. ~ Robert Heinlein

We choose those we like; with those we love, we have no say in the matter. ~ Mignon McLaughlin

Anyone can be passionate, but it takes real lovers to be silly. ~ Rose Franken

Love is being stupid together. ~ Paul Valery

I was nauseous and tingly all over. I was either in love or I had smallox. ~ Woody Allen

At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet. ~ Plato

Perhaps the feelings that we experience when we are in love represent a normal state. Being in love shows a person who he should  be. ~ Anton Chekhov

True love stories never have endings. ~ Richard Bach

The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved--loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves. ~ Victor Hugo

What the world really needs is more love and less paperwork. ~ Pearl Bailey

If you want to be loved, be lovable. ~ Ovid

Love can sometimes be magic. But magic can sometimes . . . just be an illusion. ~ Javan

We waste time looking for the perfect lover, instead of creating the perfect love. ~ Tom Robbins

 Love doesn't just sit there, like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new. ~ Ursula K. LeGuin.

The magic of first love is our ignorance that it can ever end. ~ Benjamin Disraeli

The very essence of romance is uncertainty.  ~ Oscar Wilde

Love is a game that two can play and both win. ~ Eva Gabor

 To love and win is the best thing. To love and lose, the next best. ~ William M. Thackeray.

 There can be no peace of mind in love, since the advantage one has secured is never anything but a fresh starting-point for future desires. ~ Marcel Proust

Love is the self-delusion we manufacture to justify the trouble we take to have sex. ~ Daniel S. Greenberg

Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence. ~ H. L. Mencken.

One should always be in love. This is the reason why one should never marry. ~ Oscar Wilde

Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold. ~ Zelda Fitzgerald

Everyone admits that love is wonderful and necessary, yet no one agrees on just what it is. ~ Diane Ackerman

 

 

So, whether you're man or woman, girl or boy, straight or gay, Happy Valentine's Day!--This Year and Every Year!       

. . . and if these many quotations somehow "speak" to you--or prompt you to LOL (!)--please consider passing them on.  

NOTE: For a rather different take on the subject, check out my collection of quotes on the universal phenomenon of unrequited love. For my "companion" post—"Wittiest Sex Quotes Ever"—click here. And, finally, to check out other (non-quoting) posts I've done for Psychology Today, here's the link.

  --- also, join me on Facebook and follow my psychological and philosophical meanderings on Twitter.

 

© 2012 Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved.

 

Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D., who holds doctorates in English and Psychology, is a clinical psychologist and author of Paradoxical Strategies in Psychotherapy.

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