Adele and Impossibility of the End of Love

Is there anything more insatiably abundant than love? Love abides, says St, Paul, but does it ever find its ultimate end? Does love have an immanent or transcendent telos? As David M. Halperin recently noted,[1] Adele’s “Someone Like You” asks for the impossible:

“I don’t mean to be overliteral about all this. I understand perfectly well that when Adele says, “Never mind, I’ll find someone like you,” she is hardly shrugging off her loss, declaring her intent to start over, and setting out optimistically on a determined quest for a new partner. Rather, she is expressing an impossible aspiration, and she wants it to sound pathetically hollow because she knows full well that her wish to replace her ex-boyfriend with an exact replica is not about to be fulfilled any time soon. Adele is not really planning to move on; after all, “for [her], it isn’t over,” and in all likelihood she will never find someone like him.”

Halperin views this paradox as having been articulated quite well by Aristotle in Prior Analytics. As Aristotle put it:

“To be loved, then, is preferable to intercourse, according to erotic desire. Erotic desire, then, is more for love than for intercourse. If it is most of all for that, that is also its end [telos]. Either intercourse, then, is not an end [telos] at all or it is for the sake of being loved.”

The modern proverb says, “men use love to get sex, women use sex to get love,” but Aristotle teaches us, according to Halperin, that “sex is not the final aim of erotic desire. Sex has no erotic end-purpose.” We just want to be loved, even by those who no longer love us. In the end, it’s not all about sex, but all about the impossibility of love.








[1] David M. Halperin, "What Is Sex For?," Critical Inquiry 43, no. 1 (Autumn 2016): 1-31.