But above all we must remember this: on the one hand, lying is often a trait of character; on the other hand, in women who would not otherwise be liars, it is a natural defence, improvised at first, then more and more organised, against that sudden danger which would be capable of destroying all life: love. Furthermore, it is not by mere chance that sensitive, intellectual men invariably give themselves to insensitive, inferior women, and moreover remain attached to them, and that the proof that they are not loved does not in the least cure them of the urge to sacrifice everything to keep such women with them. If I say that such men need to suffer, I am saying something that is accurate while suppressing the preliminary truths which make that need - involuntary in a sense - to suffer a perfectly understandable consequence of those truths. Not to mention the fact that, complete natures being rare, a man who is highly sensitive and highly intellectual will generally have little will-power, will be the plaything of habit and of that fear of suffering in the immediate present which condemns to perpetual suffering - and that in these conditions he will never be prepared to repudiate the woman who does not love him. One may be surprised that he should be content with so little love, but one ought rather to picture to oneself the anguish that may be caused him by the love which he himself feels.
Marcel Proust, The Fugitive, p. 631
Proust is either at his most self-reflective or most self-pitying as he proposes: "Furthermore, it is not by mere chance that sensitive, intellectual men invariably give themselves to insensitive, inferior women, and moreover remain attached to them, and that the proof that they are not loved does not in the least cure them of the urge to sacrifice everything to keep such women with them." Certainly there are several problems with his theory. Even if he's correct, it's certainly not gender-specific; many "sensitive, intellectual" women give themselves over to "insensitive, inferior" men, although my female friends who doubtless point out that this statement is at best redundant, at at worst a "duh." One of my current popular theories is that, by definition, one partner always loves the other one more (just as one partner always leaves the other one first, either through death or a breakup) and if this is true, and, well, of course, it's true then one partner is also more "sensitive" and/or "intellectual." Wouldn't the partner that possesses these attributes be the more likely to be the one who is more in love? Or maybe it is more logical that the partner who is the more "sensitive," although not necessarily the more "intellectual," is the one who is more in love? However, this is a very different issue than the one that Proust initially raised. I tend to, too readily, go back to some a couple of my more popular (at least to me) theories: our desire to exoticize our lives or our desire to play up our messianic suffering. Both of these might explain our desire to give ourselves over to an "insensitive, inferior" woman. Or we could just be stupid, and this would definitely apply to most men (and none more so than me). Or, as I said, Proust could just be at his self-pitying best (worst) here. Finally, Proust, for all his depth of understanding, could also just be much more of a misogynist than we want to admit.