Inquisition

If we took a look through a telescope at our relationships, I wonder what we’d see. The fore-shortening effect means we can see distant things as if they were nearby, in the same plane as close (or more recent) stuff.

I like playing this kind of game because it filters out much of the daily junk than inhabits our lives; the drudgery, the boredom, the reflexive behaviours that we barely notice. Many hours of our day is spent doing…well, not much really, and that includes the time we spend with special people.

Which is the way it is meant to be. Maintaining a high pitch of anything is impossible and undesirable, not least because we need variation so that we can have highs and lows. Although it can feel rotten, lows are a precondition for highs, otherwise highs end up being lows too. It’s odd.

Back to my telescopic metaphor. When we remove all the bulk filler of life, the one constant is talk. By talk I mean the communication between all of us, especially in the big relationships of life. The way we talk to each other is overlooked, because we assume it’s just a medium – the method – of being inside the other person’s head. What’s important is the actual state of our minds, our hearts and our emotions; the language is just a delivery service.

However, the modes of communication set the tone. I figure at the most broad, talking falls into two categories: One is responsive, one is interrogative. It doesn’t take a leap of logic to allow that what we want most from someone close to us is a way of chatting that involves listening and responding, as opposed to merely saying the first thing that pops up.

When we’re dating, taking ten minutes to figure out whether the person opposite is taking in what you’re saying (listening, in plain language) or merely broadcasting might save us a lot of time.

Find Her or Him

I wonder if we need to think in terms of a minimum threshold we need to attain before dating. It wouldn’t be a tricky thing: a useful way to make a living, some money, physical health, mental health, freedom from addiction, established probity in one’s affairs.

As a list of low-level requirements, it doesn’t challenge mainstream ideas. If you want to become and remain a member of almost any society, these are close to being the least the rest of us can ask.

But reasonableness does not apply to dating and romance. Nor sex. Unspoken and unwritten, the unstated assumption is that the price of entry to the world of making a union with another – no matter the length – is only that we can breathe. Living for the moment is almost the assumed position from which we begin relationships, a kind of human rights assumption without reference to what it means to be a human, let alone how rights are issued.

Which is a long way around to say that the responsibility for the success of any relationship begins with us. You and me. My relationship with you depends upon who I am, how I present, my foundation, the way I make my way; in an oddly isolating way, you begin with me.

Let’s stipulate that we’re looking for something who is additive to our life, not a net withdrawal. Finding the person who will make 1 + 1 = >2 therefore begins with having our heads above water. We don’t build lighthouses underwater. Let’s not shine our own light until we’ve found a solid headland from which to beam.

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?

Acknowledgement

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?