Finite Lovers

There is a frame of thinking that I encountered in the last days that doesn't get out of my head. It's the frame that views dating and relationships as an extension of our free market economy. It feels insane but I can't ignore it. So I want to share my thoughts on it.

First, I want to clarify that my goal is to keep the principles of capitalism out of my relationships and to be an Infinite Lover rather than a Finite Lover. It's just the more interesting and rewarding game, if you want to view it as a game at all.

I think the infinite frame can serve very well as a long-term, overarching frame, but the finite frame can still offer some value by helping to:

  1. Become aware of our value and encourage self-improvement
  2. Assert our needs and wants
  3. Maintain attraction
  4. Balance power

The infinite frame, on the other hand, promotes

  1. Emotional depth and intimacy
  2. Mutual growth
  3. Commitment
  4. Resilience

If we don't want to lose any of these benefits we can't lose any of the frames either. That explains why despite my strong preference for the infinite frame I still don't want to fully drop the finite frame.

My hypothesis is that we can simply use both frames in the right moments.

When we're still dating, we might want to focus more on our personal growth instead of unconditionally offering everything to every person we meet. Once we are in a committed relationship, I think the balance can and should change.

But instead of dropping the finite frame completely, I would suggest to use the infinite frame within the everyday life of a relationship and switch to the finite frame, maybe on a regular basis, with the intention to:

  1. Reaffirm commitment
  2. Prompt growth and re-evaluation
  3. Safeguard against taking each other for granted
  4. Balance between frames, negotiate needs and conditions
  5. Allow the relationship to evolve and adapt to new circumstances

Using the finite frame as the basis for a conversation can be challenging, but I think it can bring great opportunities for growth and re-commitment, and the key is to never use it as a threat.

As the over-arching frame, the infinite one makes much more sense to me, but the finite frame should probably also have its place.

But if we always emphasize the finite frame, we commoditize our relationships and we bring the calculations of capitalism into the realm of love, which essentially destroys its most valuable part: its unconditionality.

If we're feeling insecure or in need of support, the finite frame doesn't really help us. It only works well when we are able to think rationally, but not when our thinking is clouded by emotions.

Maybe the only time the finite frame should be deployed is when nobody feels under pressure and both are emotionally mature enough to intentionally use a narrow frame within a larger frame, almost like a magnifying lens.

Maybe a way to become good infinite lovers is to take on the lens of finite lovers and try to make both partners as comfortable as possible within this frame. There are certainly situations and constellations that don't fit into the narrow finite frame and can't be squeezed in, but if there is a lasting conflict between the two frames, this might be a problem. Make it a goal to harmonize in both frames, on all levels.