H. W. – So, what is it to really love?
J.-A. M. – To really love someone is to believe that by loving them you’ll get to a truth about yourself. We love the one that harbours the response, or a response, to our question: ‘Who am I?’
H. W. – Why do some people know how to love and not others?
J.-A. M. – Some people know how to provoke love in the other person, serial lovers as it were, men and women alike. They know what buttons to push to get loved. But they don’t necessarily love, rather they play cat and mouse with their prey. To love, you have to admit your lack, and recognise that you need the other, that you miss him or her. Those that think they’re complete on their own, or want to be, don’t know how to love. And sometimes, they ascertain this painfully. They manipulate, pull strings, but of love they know neither the risk nor the delights.
H. W. – ‘Complete on their own’: only a man could think that…
J.-A. M. – Well spotted! Lacan used to say, ‘To love is to give what you haven’t got.’ Which means: to love is to recognize your lack and give it to the other, place it in the other. It’s not giving what you possess, goods and presents, it’s giving something else that you don’t possess, which goes beyond you. To do that you have to assume your lack, your ‘castration’ as Freud used to say. And that is essentially feminine. One only really loves from a feminine position. Loving feminises. That’s why love is always a bit comical in a man. But if he lets himself get intimidated by ridicule, then in actual fact he’s not very sure of his virility.
Jacques-Alain Miller: On Love