The Personalist Project

Sleep, embarrassment & love

What is embarrassing about watching somebody asleep is their no longer having command of their features; we feel an unfair advantage in seeing them so. … Defenselessness, trust, the relinquishment of conscious control, the frankest physicality: it is this complex of feelings which makes it natural and invigorating that it should be love which, here as elsewhere, makes embarrassment needless, unthinkable. One reason why it is so lovely to watch your baby or child sleeping is that it is love which makes it feel altogether proper to watch somebody sleeping without any possibility of embarrassment on either side should he awake. … lovers can watch over each other sleeping—can, in that phrase which like many another euphemism expresses a deep truth, ‘sleep together’.

Christopher Ricks, Keats and Embarrassment