Macquarie University
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Romantic loving: an existential study

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posted on 2022-03-28, 18:00 authored by Skye Cleary
"This thesis is an existential study of romantic loving. Its central thesis is that existential philosophies emphasise the importance of freeing oneself from misplaced expectations and flawed ideals about the nature of, and behaviour associated with, romantic loving. Existentialists have argued that if romantic lovers free themselves from these problematic ideas they are free to reinvigorate romantic loving in a way that allows for authentically meaningful relationships. Five existential philosophers - Max Stirner, Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir - are studied because they provide narratives by which roots of dissatisfactions and frustrations within our everyday ideas about romantic loving can be examined, and possibilities for resolution can be explored. An analysis of such existential notions as freedom, power, choice, authenticity and anxiety, challenges our assumptions regarding the nature and meaning of romantic loving. Stirner argued that romantic loving characterised by obligations and unselfishness is hypocritical and unsatisfying. Instead he proposed self-loving and the creation of relationships which one finds enjoyable and interesting. Kierkegaard suggested that romantic loving was inherently disappointing due to its unstable and finite nature and advocated marriage and religious love as more secure foundations for relationships. Nietzsche proposed that the problems in romantic loving often stem from out-dated Christian values, inappropriate social conventions, and petty power dynamics. His medley of suggestions to resolve such issues is underpinned by the fundamental goal of striving towards the ideal of the Übermensch. Sartre argued that romantic loving is inherently frustrating because relationships descend into sadomasochistic dialectics in an attempt to attain an unrealisable ideal, and was sceptical about possible solutions. Beauvoir argued that dissatisfaction in romantic loving stems from possessive behaviours and more harmonious relationships can be achieved through reciprocal recognition of two freedoms." -- Abstract.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- 1. Max Stirner: loving egoistically -- 2. Søren Kierkegaard: loving aesthetically -- 3. Friedrich Nietzsche: loving powerfully -- 4. Jean-Paul Sartre: loving sado-masochistically -- 5. Simone de Beauvoir: loving authentically -- 6. Conclusion


Bibliography: pages 265-273

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM)

Department, Centre or School

Macquarie Graduate School of Management

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Robert Spillane


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Skye Cleary 2013.




1 online resource (v, 273 pages)

Former Identifiers

mq:28298 2066346