The short story What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, by Raymond Carver, is about two married couples drinking gin and having a talk about the nature of love. The conversation is a little sloppy, and the characters make some comments which could either be meaningless because of excessive alcohol in the bloodstream, or could be the characters' true feelings because of excessive alcohol in the bloodstream. Overall, the author uses this conversation to show that when a relationship first begins, the people involved may have misconceptions about their love, but this love will eventually die off or develop into something much more meaningful.
The author sets the scene with the two couples sitting around a table drinking gin and making small talk. The real story begins when the topic of love comes up.
Terri, Mel's wife, was once married to an abusive man, who "...went
on dragging me (Terri) around the living room. My head kept knocking on things.... What do you do with love like that?.... People are different, Mel. Sure, sometimes he may have acted crazy. Okay. But he loved me. In his own way maybe, but he loved me." (pp 110-111) To the reader, it seems hard to believe that there could be love in a relationship where one partner physically abuses the other. However, in Terri's case, both Terri and her ex-husband felt that they were in love. This coincides with the author's theme that early on in a relationship, people have misconceptions about their love.
Later on, Mel describes his former relationship in which he believed to have found love, but now realizes that the love was lost somewhere along the line. Mel says, "There was a time when I thought I loved my first wife more than life itself.