Between February 22 and March 22, founders Vedran and Louisa organized Amour Constitutionnel on Tour, a series of discussion rounds held at Café Beaubourg in Paris during breakfast. The objective of these five “café-débats” was to incentivize participants to gain a better understanding of interpersonal relationships through political systems. Each of the sessions was introduced with a review of a key publication linked to the topic of the session, followed by a short thematic presentation and interactive exercises, and sometimes even role plays, in order to keep the discussions light and playful.
The first session was titled “Permanent or fixed-term contracts? Which contract is best for your relationship?”. After the presentation of a book review of Michael Nast’s “Generation of impossible relationships”, Louisa and Vedran presented a humorous role play in which they revealed the potential for professional development and career change in an open-end or fixed-term contract. This was followed by an open and fruitful discussion with participants on the similarities between these types of contracts and different forms of relationships. Wouldn’t there be more potential for growth if we were to renegotiate our relationships after fixed terms, instead of entering directly into permanent relationships? Participants agreed that “fixed-term relationships” could indeed enable couples to talk much more openly about their relationships, proactively engage in frameworks that suit both partners’ needs and, ultimately, bring their relationship “to the next level”, sometimes to unimaginable forms!
The second session compared in general terms the presidential and parliamentary political systems to open and monogamous relationships, respectively. In an interactive exercise, Louisa and Vedran looked at the power plays that can exist between two partners, and how such instances play out in these two types of constellations. The book featured during the session was written by Philippe Brenot, titled “Inventing the couple.” In a nutshell, monogamy in itself represents a restriction, it is therefore important that both partners question their respective needs from a relationship and, if needed, find ways to innovate either within this or other frameworks, so that each partner thrives within an autonomous couple.
The topic of the third session “Now and then. Power struggle in the couple – The drift of democracies toward autocracies” featured an essay collection around the topic of narcissism titled “A clear and present danger: narcissism in the era of Donald Trump”. Louisa and Vedran explained how in relationships functioning as autocracies, i.e. one partner dictating the rules of a relationship in an out- or unspoken way, efficiency seems to be the driving force to the detriment of personal liberties of the weaker partner. However, this scheme only works if the latter displays continued admiration for the “dictator” who maintains enough control and takes care of his partner, so there is no “upheaval” or rebellion which would inevitably lead to the destruction of this relationship. The second part of the session showed how it is possible to defend oneself against not only the manipulation of political leaders, but also the people with whom we surround. Even better, during the session, participants learned what tools they can use when negotiating and trying to get the best possible benefit for themselves.
During the fourth session titled “Anarchic love: a post-modern liberation? What about self-esteem?”, love was presented as an untamable and uncontrollable substance, free in space, time and form. It can only exist and blossom when there are no constraints or attachments whatsoever. Love is therefore at its highest expression when people let go of it. In this session, the book “The mastery of love: a practical guide to the art of relationship” by Don Miguel Ruiz was presented, as the participants at the session analyzed and provided critique to the notion that indeed self-love and forgiving are key before entering any type of relationship.
The fifth and last café-débat featured the book “The Four Loves” by CS Lewis, along with the four definitions for love that it provides. This brought an open ending to this discussion round, raising the question of new political systems and forging a potentially new hypothesis centered around “a new way of loving others?”, post-modern love: sustainable relationships enabling the unfalsified self-actualization of each partner.
Overall, Amour Constitutionnel on Tour was a success as Louisa and Vedran achieved what they had in mind with it: making participants reflect in a new way on their relationship patterns, be it with their companions, friends, colleagues, civic systems, and even themselves!
Literature cited :
Session 1 : Nast, M. (2016). Generation Beziehungsunfähig (1st ed.). Edel Germany.
Session 2: Brenot, P. (2001). Inventer le couple. Paris: O. Jacob.
Session 3 : Cruz, L., & Buser, S. (Eds.). (2016). A clear and present danger: narcissism in the era of Donald Trump. Asheville, N.C: Chiron Publications.
Session 4 : Ruiz, D. M., Jr. (1999). The Mastery of Love: A Practical Guide to the Art of Relationship. San Rafael, Calif: Amber-Allen Publishing,U.S.
Session 5 : Lewis, C. S. (1960). The four loves. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.