Inside Straight

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.

Now Meet A Real Person

I am wrong.

You are wrong.

The person we think we want to meet doesn’t really exist. There are many, many individuals with whom we can form a mutually satisfying and enriching couple. The mirage we create in our minds is not one of them.

Intellectualism and fantasy are the enemies of a good life; let’s not indulge them, shall we?


We’re under the misapprehension that change can come quickly. Here I’m talking about altering the way we humans observe, synthesize and react to each other.

My opinion is that much of how that works is set very early in life; before puberty, certainly.

Yes, if we choose to change ourselves – to make in internal makeover – things can happen. That, however, can modify the way we view people and circumstance, and how we react to people and circumstance. That’s all.

What self-delta doesn’t do is to change our DNA, our modelling, our prior experience and our previous reactions. All of these mitigate against big change, now.

So leopards don’t change their spots, you say, what’s new? What can be new is noting that fact. Acknowledgment of what’s pretty much set inside our head leaves us with realistic expectation of ourselves…and others.

Self-change change is not so much changing as manoeuvring around what’s already fixed. Doesn’t that sound more do-able?

Broken Picker

Two of my women friends coughed up a t’riffic expression this morning.

Like a lot of people, they both said, our picker’s broken. We pick the wrong people with whom to couple.

A broken picker. Who can’t relate to that?

For anyone beyond the age of first infatuation, the realization that we have chosen and continue to choose the wrong people is valuable. Being sufficiently self-aware to the point that we can face our limitations head-on is a place of strength, a springboard from which we can realistically improve.

But: A broken picker might not actually be a broken picker. Because so much of our picking ability is developed early as a result of parental and family modeling, to blame ourselves for poor construction is unfair. What’s really happened is that the relevent parts of our picker were incorrectly assembled, or assembled with some key pieces absent, mis-labeled parts, inappropriate parts, or perhaps all the pieces are still in the box. That was a parental failing.

My point is that a malfunctioning picker reflects only upon those who should have built the darn thing in the first place. However, now we’re adults and recognize our own spluttering choices, we can return to the original parts box to find what’s missing.

Constructing a picker isn’t tricky, but it does require searing honesty and some tools. (Some of which are supplied here.)


Funny what we can learn from talking about couplehood.

On the weekend I was chatting with a friend, figuring the merits of online dating, how profiles work, what the probability of a genuine reciprocal relationship really is from an online Sears catalogue – the usual stuff. I was mulling over what it is we’re really trying to do here, over and above the flim-flam of ‘soulmates’ and LAFS*.

Fit might be the answer. We’re looking for another person who will be a kind of snug anti-us, like the master of a brick mould. Or a coffee-mug template. Or even a car-door stamping machine. We’re looking for the one individual who can spoon our personality with little or no gap. When we dip, we want them to…whatever the opposite of that is. When we’re proud (in the engineering sense) we’d like them to retreat. We want a personal candy wrapper.

Implicit from that starting point is that we don’t actually want to change. The prospect must be the one who fits us, in as many levels and as accurately as possible; humour, sex, finance, spirituality, driving style, they should all be not just compatible, but what we’re expecting. What we want.

Sounds like a tall order to me.

*Love At First Sight