The Greatest Love Affairs: Top ten love affairs of all time

John Cousins
February 7, 2023
4 min read

If you apply the 5 whys interrogative technique to pretty much anything we do, the bedrock reason will be that we want to be loved. But in many instances we have closed ourselves off to our ultimate goal in order to protect ourselves from being hurt. Again.

We all have had our hearts broken multiple times. It’s a challenge to maintain a supple and open heart in the face of experience. Once bitten twice shy. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. We have lots of sayings to fall back on to rationalize the fortress we build around our heart.

We feel vulnerable and want to protect ourselves from hurt. But we end up cutting ourselves off from truly living.

I think remaining open hearted is the most important mindfulness practice we can cultivate. It takes courage. Keeping the flame alive takes courage. It can be hidden and tiny, but it must be acknowledged and praised.

Who knows

That in the depth of the ravine

Of the mountain of my hidden heart

A firfly of my love is aflame.

- Abutsu — ni


A Japanese woman wrote this acknowledgement of the deeply hidden, but alive, flame of love almost a thousand years ago. It’s the image of something fragile and almost imperceptible. It takes the soul of an artist listening intently to the subtlest vibrations of her existence to recognize and then draw up and articulate. And it has lasted a millennia.

Ovid said: If you want to be loved, be lovable. Being always kind and cultivating deep friendship are keys to lasting love.

It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship, that makes unhappy marriages.
― Friedrich Nietzsche

Here is a list of some of the great lovers throughout history as inspiration.

John Keats and Fanny Brawne

This was most probably unrequited love and inspired Keats to write the most beautiful lyrical poetry in the English language. Here is a recording of me reciting his greatest poems. I also wrote a book about Keats you can check out. I’m a big fan.

Ovid and Corrina

Ovid was exiled from Rome by Augustus for his romantic escapades. His most famous quote is Amor Vincit Omnia Love Conquers All.

Also check out Ovid’s books on love including Ars Amatoria the Art of Love.

The Brownings

Illuminated copy of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets from the Portuguese — Sonnet 30.

Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning are exemplars of love and both Victorian English poets of the highest order. Her love poems Sonnets from the Portuguese are poems she wrote to Robert. Her nickname for him was “my little Portuguese”.

Their correspondence is intoxicatingly lovely. Read their letters.

Lord Admiral Nelson and Lady Hamilton

Admiral Nelson and Lady Hamilton in Naples

Emma Hamilton lived in Naples where her father was a famous scholar, art historian, and archeologist. She was a famed beauty, a model and actress; and brilliant. There are many incredible paintings of her that survive as she was the muse of a great artist George Romney.

Lord Nelson was the most famous hero of his age and had beaten Napoleon’s Navy to save England.

Caesar and Cleopatra

The way they met; she hidden in a rug delivered to Caesar, the adventures they had, the burning of the library at Alexandria. Caesar the most powerful man in the world was absolutely smitten. Cleopatra was the final heir to the Ptolomiac dynasty began 300 years earlier by her ancestor a general of Alexander the Great.

The splendor of Egypt a three thousand year old empire at the time, and the muscular energy of Rome ascendant met in these two.

Ludivico Il Moro and Isabella D’este

Ludivico was the king of the kingdom of Milan. Isabella was the princess of Este. She and her sister Beatrice were legendary beauties. Leonardo da Vinci was their courtier and his drawing of Beatrice survives. Their wedding ceremony as designed by Leonardo. This is fantasy splendor of the highest order.

Napoleon and Josephine

A wonderful love affair. Josephine was the romantic match for the most exciting hero of his time. Napoleon conquered Europe but had his hands full this the glorious Josephine.

Live life fully. Create your own great love story.

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John Cousins
Author, Entrepreneur, & Teacher

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