They have no idea what happiness is, and they don’t know that without this love, there can be neither happiness nor unhappiness for us – or life.

Vronsky knows that his and Anna’s social peers are judging and misunderstanding their affair, and he believes this is because they do not understand the incredible depth of his love for Anna. His friends assume their affair is a simple matter of lust, but for Anna and Vronsky, it is far more than that. Vronsky feels that he and Anna literally cannot or will not live if they cannot be together. He also believes that his peers have never felt love or happiness so intensely as he has due to his relationship with Anna, and therefore have never truly experienced love or happiness.

In the initial period after joining his life to hers and putting on civilian clothes, he experienced the full delights of freedom in general, which he had not known before, and also the freedom of love, and he was content, but not for long. He soon felt desire for desires, and tedium arising in his soul.

As much as Vronsky attempts to convince himself otherwise, he is an ambitious man. Before his relationship with Anna, he was steadily working up the ranks in the military and had hopes of achieving an illustrious career. But as his relationship becomes more complicated, he must choose between his career and Anna—being with her means leaving the military so that they can travel together and avoid their normal social circles, who have rejected them. Having lost both friends and work, Vronsky grows bored during his travels with Anna. Although there is something romantic and attractive about Vronsky’s devotion to Anna, it’s clear that their affair has tragic consequences on his life, as he has incredible potential that he is never able to realize.

She knew he would never be capable of understanding the depth of her suffering; she knew she would hate him for the cold tone he would adopt at the mere mention of it. And she feared this more than anything in the world, so hid from him everything that concerned her son.

Although Vronsky loves Anna deeply, he cannot understand her love for her son, and this creates an emotional gulf between them. Vronsky has no attachments to former lovers or children, and as a man, he can’t comprehend the social pressure on women to put their families and children first before their own needs. Indeed, much of the tension that arises between Vronsky and Anna comes from Vronsky’s ability to remain liberated and respected in society while Anna is forced to abandon everything and everyone, including her son. Vronsky wants to support Anna, but he simply doesn’t have the experience or the capacity to truly empathize with her situation.