Saturday, January 17, 2009


The following entry is something that I've had on my mind for a few months now. I'm usually not one to solicit readers or comments, but I would really appreciate it if you read this and responded thoughtfully to the questions at the end. I know it's kinda long but hopefully you will find it interesting and thought-provoking and you will have some equally interesting and thought-provoking things to say. Also, please don't make any implications about my personal life based on the following. If you're really that curious call me or email me and we'll chat.


A few years back, while wandering the wintry wastelands of Quebec (which are really quite nice in the summer), I stumbled upon a book called Le Petit Prince (in English, The Little Prince, in case you didn't figure that out). For those of you unfamiliar with this literary masterpiece, it's children's book written by Antione de Saint-Exupery in 1943. While it's written in language that children could understand and illustrated with awesome watercolor paintings by the author, it's actually quite a profound piece of literature.

I've read this book numerous times; the first while I was on my mission, the most recent being last summer. In fact, I was really close to buying this book for all my friends for Christmas last year; alas, my college student poverty prevented me. The last time I read it, a certain point the author makes really stuck out to me, and it's been on my mind ever since.

The story is about a young prince who is the sole inhabitant of a planet roughly the size of a house -- essentially an asteroid. One day he notices a small plant growing on the surface of his planet. He watches it and looks after it and eventually it grows into a beautiful rose. And even though the rose treats him badly, he falls in love with her and takes care of her.

But one day, enough is enough and the little prince leaves his flower. He travels from planet to planet until he finally reaches Earth.

He spends quite some time wandering the expanses of the Sahara Desert until one day he stumbles upon a garden of roses. Here is his reaction:

And he was overcome with sadness. His flower had told him that she was the only one of her kind in all the universe. And here were five thousand of them, all alike, in one single garden!

"I thought that I was rich, with a flower that was unique in all the world; and all I had was a common rose."

And he lay down in the grass and cried.
Not long after, the little prince meets a fox. Desperate for companionship, the prince seeks to befriend the fox.

"Come and play with me," proposed the little prince. "I am so unhappy."

"I cannot play with you," the fox said. "I am not tamed."


"What does that mean-- 'tame'?"

"It is an act too often neglected," said the fox. "It means to establish ties."

"'To establish ties'?"

"Just that," said the fox. "To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world..."

"I am beginning to understand," said the little prince. "There is a flower... I think that she has tamed me..."
The fox goes on to explain that the taming process -- the process of forming a relationship or friendship -- takes time and patience. Slowly the prince and the fox become good friends and the prince learns what it means to tame someone. Just before continuing his journey, the fox recommends that the prince visit the bed of roses before he leaves.

The little prince went away, to look again at the roses.

"You are not at all like my rose," he said. "As yet you are nothing. No one has tamed you, and you have tamed no one. You are like my fox when I first knew him. He was only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But I have made him my friend, and now he is unique in all the world."

And the roses were very much embarassed.

"You are beautiful, but you are empty," he went on. "One could not die for you. To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you-- the rose that belongs to me. But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses: because it is she that I have watered; because it is she that I have put under the glass globe; because it is she that I have sheltered behind the screen; because it is for her that I have killed the caterpillars (except the two or three that we saved to become butterflies); because it is she that I have listened to, when she grumbled, or boasted, or ever sometimes when she said nothing. Because she is my rose.
OK, I'm finally getting to my point, to the questions that have been on my mind since the last time I read this book.

With this point, I agree with the author: that many of the relationships and friendships we have in life are founded and based upon the time and experiences we share with one another.

Here's where I'm not so sure what to think. The author is arguing that the reason why the prince's rose was so important -- ultimately the reason why he loved her -- was because he tamed her. In other words, he loved her simply because of the time he spend with her.

So here's my question(s): in regards to relationships, specifically in regards to love, what portion of a relationship is based on things like physical attraction and common interest, and what portion is based on the time two people spend together? Furthermore, does something like common interest matter in a relationship? Could a relationship survive if the only real thing they have in common is a desire to make it work? Why or why not? In the same vein, where is the fine line between settling and accepting?


  1. this is very interesting. I want to read it.

  2. I don't know how to give a simple answer to any of these questions, but in my opinion . . .
    1- Time spent together is crucial to really loving (taming) someone.
    I'm very anti 3 week engagement, mostly because I think it's easy for a person to always show only their best self for months and hide their flaws and weaknesses from anyone outside of those they live with.
    I also recognize that while some people become more or less attractive the more you get to know them, there are some people that I will simply never be attracted to no matter how much I like their personality. And some of them are very attractive people, but I personally don't feel any attraction.
    2- It's important to have certain interests in common, but more in principle than in preference.
    For me someone's tastes in music, fashion, recreational activities, etc. doesn't matter nearly as much as their goals for family, spiritual growth, finances, etc.
    3- Could a relationship survive if the only thing in common is the desire to make it work? It seems like a couple would have to have at least something important in common in order to gain a desire to make things work in the first place.
    But my answer is yes because I think if someone really has a desire to make a relationship work, then the things that are important in their partner's life will become important to them.
    4- The line between settling and accepting . . . to me settling is more like lowering one's standards to tolerate harmful behavior from the person he is in a relationship with. Whereas accepting is simply setting aside personal preferences for the good of the relationship.

    I don't know if any of this will make sense to readers, or if I even answered the questions directly, but it all made sense in my head.

  3. first of all i'm glad you told about this book because i feel like i see it everywhere (well when i was in europe) and yet never read anything about it because it was always in french. it sounds awesome and i really want to read/own it now. and on to the questions...

    i actually have thought about all those questions many times on occasion and have come to the conclusion that there is no real answer because every situation seems to be the exception in a way. and i could probably ramble on about what i think about it all for quite some time but i'll spear you. (and really like i want to type that much on a comment). but this summer i was working with my brother-in-law and talking about this same thing and he said i put too much weight on common interests (which i do) and introduced me to his theory called "The Triangle of Love" (he drew the whole thing out but i'll try to describe it in limited words)...

    basically there is a triangle with one point being Physical Attraction, one is Personality/Likability (this is where i put common interest), and the last being Life Long Goals, Ideals, Commonalities. he says that on a scale from 1-10 with ten being the highest you need to be at a 7 to 10 at each of these points to be happily married. he swears its foolproof and it makes sense to me by basically giving everything equal portions and you want to be on about the same level across the board. anyway, some thing else to think about right.

    and i do think that any two people can be together and survive solely on the fact that they want to make it work but i don't necessarily believe that means you're going to be at your happiest. and who wants to JUST survive? to quote the captain on WALL-E "i don't want to survive, i want to LIVE!"

  4. "How can I know what I think till I see what I say?"

    E.M. Forster