Sticking With It

The idea of it is daunting.

Imagine choosing one person in your twenties or thirties, getting to know them for eighteen months or two years and then committing to share your lives together forever. Through good times and bad, failure and success, happiness and sadness, the plan is to stick together.

Absurd as this concept is to the clear-eyed, it works. People make this institution a success and go on to have children who make it a success; that, BTW, adds an additional layer of stress and complexity unimagined at the start.

What’s the secret? Why do we long to make this happen, and how do we claim some of the magic for ourselves?

I wonder if the key isn’t flexibility. Our vision of two people merging into one isn’t helpful. A better simile might be of two dolphins moving together through the ocean. Our dolphins move in generally the same direction, sometimes side-by-side, sometimes in looser formation. Oftentimes they know when the other will change direction, and they change direction instantly or, when they get the picture, after a while. They hang around in the same area playing together, but not necessarily with each other, and they always have their mate’s back.

The two of them are individuals, but it’s clear that even if they’re apart, they remain together…a fact acknowledged by them and their tribe.

That’s a long way of suggesting that flexibility in the face of change might be an under-represented part of the secret to success. Whomever changes must help the other to join them on the path, that’s their responsibility. Whomever is being helped must absorb the change and do their best to keep up.

Obvious caveats about legality, morality and danger apply, but recognizing that we all change is a big step. It opens the door.

Moonshot

Sorting through old family photos and launching them into the cloud awakens long-dormant memories and emotions. Connecting the dots of our lives isn’t a daily priority, but when 100 years of evidence flashes across the screen, resisting is futile.

From this distance, it’s cleat that life is a series of phases. We could extrapolate that to something bigger, that everything is a kind of perpetual moving into, within and beyond a phase. The connective tissue between phases in all of our lives is the people, some of whom overlap, some of whom do not.

Change is inevitable. I wonder if coupling with a right person is about our mutual ability and willingness to stay with each other through life’s changes. That is an enormous ask, today more than ever. Phase direction and magnitude will always be unknowable. Not only will we have decades of unpredictability together, we don’t know how we as individuals will phase in and out, let alone the relationship or – gasp!- the world around us.

Choosing carefully remains critical…but we’ll never be certain.

Podcast #74 Where Is My Prey?

Wherever I look I don’t find anyone. I like my coffee buddies, my family, the people at the golf club, but I never seem to meet any nice women. Where are they? 

Does this – or an applicable version – sound familiar? Failure to connect with those we hope to meet is our fault and therefore within our ability to change.

Uh-oh. There’s that c-word again. Listen to this week’s podcast and see if we make change palatable.

Money Issues

We spend enormous amounts of time sorting through the emotions of relationships. Endless loops of

What do I feel?

What does she feel?

What does this mean?

Why did she do this?

Is this important?

Does she like me?

How will she react to this?

Yet we ignore so much of what happens after our feelings are…well, as organized as feelings ever can be. Practical stuff makes up big gobs of our lives and contains traps for every relationship, but we often overlook them and their impact.

Money and how we handle it is one such under-examined element. How many couples fall apart over poorly managed finances, both as a unit and individually?

My answer is to start questioning this part of your dates’ lives much sooner in the dating process than we do currently, and to that end I think there’s one question to ask:

Do you have a budget?

Someone who has a written budget and at least attempts to follow it automatically falls into the top 5% of candidates. Living within one’s means is a foundation for reducing stress,  in itself a head start to a better relationship.

The Difficulty of Attraction

Solving for x is the reason for algebra, and while relationships aren’t clinical like mathematics, there are some parallels.

One such parallel is the need for one side of an equation to equal the other. As long as we invert the left side as well as the right, we can consider the problem the same. In the squishy world of people, things tend to even out, even if we don’t quite see it that way at the time or when we’re close up.

The matter of attraction is an interesting one. People have a total attraction factor (for fun let’s call it x) that’s made up of the physical, the intellectual and the spiritual. Let’s be smart here and call it the body, the brains and the heart.

In general, B + B + H = x, where x is generally about the same for everyone.

Key to figuring our own personal attraction is understanding how our individual inputs are proportioned, namely, how much B, B or H goes into our own x.

Am I attractive because of my body, my brains or my heart, and in what proportion? Figure that out and you have a strategy for finding your mate.