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Julie Neveux: "Language can save the couple, if the partners manage to find a real conversation"


INTERVIEW.- In her new essay, The Language of Love, the Normalian linguist dissects the lexicon of love, from meeting to breaking up. Educated and funny.

Miss Figaro.

Even in a digitized society, how are words still essential when we love?

Julie Neveux.

We cannot do without words.

They construct love stories, they literally make them exist.

Love is the feeling that asks the most to be shared, and that's good, words are within everyone's reach.

They are the first and the last means of entering or leaving a love story, cement at the beginning, when the relationship is built, and disturbing element when the two partners of a couple no longer speak the same language.

But if words are necessary to elucidate what we feel, sometimes they play tricks on us.

To discover

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In what sense can they play tricks on us in love?

Language is a cultural code that we inherit.

We believe we are comfortable with it because we have mastered it to a functional degree, but we are not suspicious of it and we can find ourselves in pitfalls.

Words build our fantasies as well as our disappointments.

We say "We were made for each other", and we forever rule out the possibility that it won't work!

Romanticism always makes us vibrate, we all want to live romantic stories, but the cliché formulas can also make us suffer: the promises of eternity at the beginning, like the "we have to talk" at the end , are often stereotyped formulations that we don't really realize that they don't correspond to our needs.

But they tell the future of the couple.

Couple therapy: they tell what saved their union … or signed the end of it

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Your essay evokes four stages in romantic relationships: love-fantasy, love-fusion, love-possession and frozen love.

What then is the role of words in the beginnings of love?

In love stories, there is almost a "compulsory" path!

All humans who experience a feeling of intense love aim for a form of eternity in the loving bond.

Language translates this desire: “I will always love you”, “I will always be yours”.

In the same way, people who tattoo the name of the loved one on their body respond to the need to make visible, in full, this loving and intimate matter.

The diminutives addressed to the loved one affirm the uniqueness of this relationship, as well as the creation of a language specific to the couple.

Certain metaphors, such as that of the sun – “You are the sun of my life” – translate the cosmic upheaval felt when one loves.

The Language of Love,

by Julie Neveux, Grasset Editions, 416 p., €23.

Grasset Editions

Yet, in most cases, the power of words wears thin as the relationship progresses…

At the start of a relationship, adverbs of temporality such as "again" or "always" mark a desire for eternity.

A few years later, they can find themselves expressing weariness at the return of the same, the everyday: “You still complain”, “You are still negative”.

Language is one of the energies we can mobilize to feed our emotions, but sometimes we no longer have the strength or the desire to produce truly loving words.

At the end of a story, it can feel like the pattern is repeating itself and “you're suffocating” or “you need air,” to use a common organic metaphor.

But it is also the language that can save the couple, if the partners manage to find a real conversation, without resorting to ready-made formulas.

It is generally women who will put words to marital problems.

Julie Neveux, linguist

As you mention, moreover, women carry more of the “expressive charge”.

What is it about ?

They are generally the ones who will put words on the problems of the couple and put them on the carpet: where are we?

Are we happy together?

What are the expectations of each other?

Studies show that the “expressive burden” in heterosexual couples is still largely borne by women.

In other words, it is the women who, momentarily putting aside all the peripheral aspects of the couple, for which they are nevertheless often responsible, refocus on its metaphysics and try to (re)give it meaning.

Read alsoThe secrets of sexually satisfied couples

Source: lefigaro

All life articles on 2023-02-07

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