One of the odder phenomena of relationships is the immediate certainty that whenever things go wrong in our lives it is first and foremost, and quite obviously, our partner’s fault. We get furious with our partners because we assign them such a deep role in our lives. We have faith that a person who understands obscure parts of us, whose presence solves so many of our problems, couldn’t realistically also be someone who wouldn’t be able to fix our whole lives. We exaggerate our partners’ powers, an exaggeration that’s an echo – heard in adult life down the decades – of a child’s awe at their parents. The partner inherits a little of that beautiful, romantic, dangerous, unfair, trust we as children once had in our parents. At one level, the lover has learnt how to reassure the anxious child in us – that’s why we love them. But that source of strength also brings with it some very serious problems, for the primitive part of us insists on trusting them a little too much, believing that they actually control far more of existence than they possibly could. It’s also to do with the permission that the partner’s love gives us… to moan in a way we cannot otherwise. The world is constantly mean to us. It rejects our creative endeavours, it overlooks us in promotions, it rewards idiots. But usually we can’t complain. We can’t get angry with the people who are really to blame for hurting us. So, we get angry with those whom we can be sure will tolerate us for blaming them. We get angry with the very nicest, most sympathetic, most loyal people in our vicinity, the ones least likely to have harmed us, but most likely to stick around while we blame them furiously for having done so. The mean words and mad accusations we mutter to our lovers undoubtedly often sound horrible. But let’s at least remember that they are a curious proof of intimacy, a symptom of love itself – and in their own way, oddly romantic (a detail indirectly acknowledged by their frequently sexual conclusions). We can tell any stranger something reasonable and polite, but only in the presence of someone we really trust can we dare to be properly irrational and truly unkind. If we think of love as being in perfect agreement all the time, we will feel that getting into fights must mean that a relationship is winding down or starting to fall apart. But crazy blame games are at heart just a symptom of an intensity of investment in another person. We aren’t simply nice with our partners, because we are so very close to them. They draw us into very private zones of turbulence and distress… from which absolutely everyone else is excluded. That’s one of the stranger, more unfortunate and yet (from a calm angle) almost flattering gifts of love.