On Project Love: The Great Divorce #9

smoke_from_a_candle___wallpaper_by_artyben-d6rg6u1Chapter 10 is rather short. Perhaps a better description would be that chapter 10 is rather fast. As I read of the Ghost’s encounter with the bright Woman, I envision the “conversation” passing quickly. The Ghost has much to say and a desire to speak rapidly and forcefully. Speaking as though the bright Woman (Hilda) aims to interrupt, Hilda is not permitted to squeeze in even a single word edgewise. The Ghost apparently fast talks her way into oblivion, snuffed out like a wick burned down into the puddle of wax below.


“The ingratitude! It was I who made a man of him! Sacrificed my whole life to him!” (female Ghost)


I’m not sure of the relationship between Robert and the She-Spirit, Hilda. I am guessing her to be his mother, but I cannot say for sure. Ultimately, it is of little consequence as the Ghost wife’s complaint quickly consumes the chapter. I find myself uncomfortable in the midst of the Ghost’s speech – for two reasons. One because her argument appears to be so absurd that it is laughable. She is a caricature who elicits heartbroken laughter. No one could be so oblivious?!? But at the same time, I am uncomfortable because I know that her situation is not so absurd after all. In fact, it is downright common.

The situation to which I am referring, I shall call Project Love. The concept is quite simple. Project love is “love” that views the other person as a project. Consider most of my household projects. At the root of the project is an even blend of dissatisfaction with the current state and perceived potential. From this evaluation, it is important to determine if the project is feasible – do I possess the skills, the materials, the resources to make this a reality? If the answer is yes, the project begins.

Only after the project begins does the real crisis arise. During demolition, very real and unexpected problems inevitably surface. During reconstruction, costly changes are typically required. By the time the project comes to a close, there is a severe lack of energy and a shortage of resources. Motivation dwindles and often expectations are lowered. The timetable has been long-blown and the finished product has rotated 90 degrees from my original drawing.

I can only hope that your project history is more consistent and successful than mine. (It would be difficult for your history to be less consistent and successful than mine! But don’t worry, I always finish the project before we sell the house.)

Sadly, I am pretty sure people treat people in the same way. Sadly, I see echoes of this reality in the testimony of the female Ghost.

Let’s try to break this down.

Love is inherently other-focused. Love is not about receiving. Love is about giving.

When love focuses on feelings, it is entirely self-centered. By this definition, you are in love when you a) feel the feel-goods about the other person (self-centered); and/or b) you feel loved by the other person (also self-centered). Sure, you have to at least glance at the other person in order to assess this kind of love, but the core is purely selfish. Selfishness is not at all other-focused, it is entirely about receiving, and not remotely about giving.

When love focuses on sacrifice, it is possibly other-centered. By this definition, you are in love when you think less of yourself, think more of the needs of another and meet those needs without thought of what you will receive in return. You give regardless of the current measurement of feel-goods, and regardless of the expression of love offered by the other person.

I would consider project love to be a corrupt and sinful distortion of sacrificial love. You constantly think of the other person, but only because you want to mold them into kind of person who would give you the feel-goods. You think constantly of their needs, but only because meeting their needs is necessary for your happiness. You meet needs because you want the satisfaction of knowing you’ve been the agent of change. Project love is poisoned by self-centeredness, and is entirely void of real love.

If you thought household projects carried surprises, trying molding and shaping another human.

Our Ghost friend gave it all… but for all the wrong reasons. Even in eternity, she simply wanted another person to manipulate.

Have you given it all to another?

Was it for their good?

Or your own?



“I’m so miserable. I must have someone to – to do things to.” (female Ghost)


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One thought on “On Project Love: The Great Divorce #9

  1. When you view another person as a project it is not loving. At the core is manipulation to meet your own selfish need.

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