Dating, courting and all that stuff revolves around figuring out what the other person’s thinking.
We cannot do this directly, in the sense of plugging in a computer, downloading what’s inside and riffling through the contents at our leisure. What we do is talk, listen, prompt, observe, react, note and synthesize. Problem is that all of these methods are indirect at best, and mostly misleading.
Talking is the way we communicate for the most part. Unfortunately this is the least reliable route to accurate assessment of someone. That’s because much of what we see is filtered through the higher, complex mechanisms of the brain. Every bias, mood, emotion, predisposition, experience, love, hatred, miff, disappointment, triumph and childhood disaster has an input to our communication. Motives are masked, truths cloaked. Deception is a part of the thrust and parry of conversation. Irony too. Sarcasm. Attempts at wit. None of these helps to gain much insight into what’s really going on.
Eventually we build a picture of the person standing opposite, but it does take time. The camouflage of language is imperfect and can be stripped away, which is why it takes years – yes, years – to figure the risk-worthiness of a potential mate.
Dark and moody might work in movies and fashion models, but who wants to couple with dark and moody? Especially those fashion models; they seem overstrung and underfed to me. Ahem.
Happy people do better than those with a gloom-cloud sitting over their head, not least when attracting and keeping someone close. There. That’s the answer to everything. Unless you want to hear Kregg and me expand a little upon that idea…
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Animals live in a moment-to-moment world of surviving. Right now.
We, on the other hand, mildly live in that world, but we also live in a future world. We can look forward and visualize what we’ll need to survive (and thrive) three days, three weeks and three years from now.
That raises the tricky question of trade-offs. Sometimes we must sacrifice something in the present in order to make a more certain future.
Relationships, – especially marriage – are an example of this. Male nature is to satisfy sexual hunger with less than perfect discrimination. To forgo that drive in the interest of creating something valuable is a choice to trust that higher goals are worthy of giving up short term pleasure.
That choice also pushes back the chaos, the chaos of unrestricted gratification. It also demonstrates faith in our ability to maintain those long-term advantages, but like any investment in the future it requires conscious maintenance. That’s the hard part.
The current fashion for proceeding through life seems to revolve around floating along on a cloud of shared trivia and shiftless experience. We’re completely up-to-date on everyone else and they’re likewise up to speed with us, no matter the depth or value of our experiences.
As someone else (I forgot) said (and I’m paraphrasing), never have lives so unlived been so well recorded.
I think it’s true with coupling, too. Linking with another person is not simply about choosing to link with them, as per online social networks. If we’re to give ourselves a chance of lasting, we need structures, both individually and as a meshed unit. Discipline implies self-control, which leads to being the best we can, which eventually leads to freedom.
By freedom, I mean the kind of joyous interaction rooted in an accurate knowledge of ourselves and our nature. Without the strictures implicit in gaining a solid grip on our place, feckless coupling and its consequences are our destiny, and our children’s, too.
This is what I call personal geolocation; locating our place on biological, intellectual and spiritual planes. Think of it as a kind of 4-D map. (Time is the 4th plane.)
Where are you? Only when we find – and maintain – a known position should we think of co-locating with another. This doesn’t mean our place is fixed. Far from it. Change is inevitable and should always be anticipated and planned for. In life and relationships, those who know how to deal with change put themselves that much closer to success.
One thing I’ve learned this process is that we’ll never precisely share the same space on the planes as another. The best we can work towards is keeping relatively close…which is where the discipline and self-control comes in.
Unless you’re a unicorn and find yourself coupling perfectly, forever, with your first date, you have a relationships history. As we explore ourselves and our meshing skills, some people say we accumulate baggage; others call it experience. Or character. Let’s go with that.
Here’s how Kregg and I look at this murky business.
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