Third Age of Coupling

DedicationSelflessness is underrated in a world chock-full of lesser qualities.

If there’s a more important way of approaching life for the twenty years required to (hopefully) raise a successful next generation, I don’t know what that is. Along the way here we have found ourselves adrift on a sea of self-actualization, with commensurate values.

It’s easy to forget how small is our window for molding our offspring’s ways of thinking, their responses and their values. What they see they will do. DNA is fixed at the moment of conception; we have more breathing room to develop attitudes, but not much.

Finding someone who shares this idea might be the most difficult treasure hunt most people undertake. Good luck, Brad.

This Is Different

Dating is different from pretty much everything else we do.

As a consumer, we’re used to having it our way. (Note the marketing guff.) We choose from an infinite variety of goods which will arrive at our front door within two days. If something fails to satisfy us completely, we send it straight back. Because that’s costly, the people providing us with that stuff have an interest in making precisely what we want, so we’re happy every time we buy. As time passes, we not only receive everything we want, we expect that to continue.

That’s not dating. There is no-one out there honing people production, aiming to satisfy all of our wishes. Finding someone is a strictly analog business, an off-the-shelf enterprise in which we scour various stores, outlets and vendors for just the right item. Sometimes we even take a peak in the bargain bin.

Choosing the right store is a start. Walking into Needless Markup determines what you’re likely to buy and how much you’ll pay. Idling through the clearance items at WalMart will find you contemplating a different kind of item. That only highlights our ability to choose the general area of our search, but that’s about it.

Once we accept that dating requires some legwork, some effort, some time and a lot of rejecting shoddy goods, it can be fun. Overcoming the fear of failure means not purchasing almost everything that’s on offer, and waiting for that one undervalued, perfectly fitting item to come along that exceeds our expectation and keeps delighting us.

Good luck.

The New, The Different

The most obvious behaviour is sometimes the least noticed. I couldn’t tell you how many times I went to the bathroom today, nor where or when I felt hungry. All of those mechanical scripts occur at a level underneath consciousness.

In bigger ways, too, we have patterns. For instance, in our search for the ideal coupling mate, the drive to find someone else out there keeps us scanning the horizon. We’re like cheetah on the veldt, lounging in a tree, looking for the right shape or movement to signal lunch. Only the lunch we’re after is potentially the most important person in our lives.

Tricky, this, because checking at the horizon necessarily precludes looking closer to home. This element of otherness, of finding the exotic, is a well-defined human characteristic. Yes, we look for some markers of similarity, but being complementary (and metaphysically far away) is an input to our choice.

The two extremes of this are arranged marriages, and marriages of people from completely different cultures, ethnicities and geographies. They are the same institution, but we innately feel that the non-arranged union is more likely to succeed; we are strongly predisposed to this idea.

Which of course makes sense when we think about it from a biological point of view. Reproduction via sex works best with diversity. Get too many closely-related folks having babies and the system fails to operate, shall we say, optimally.

But if you stipulate that in a large city, for example, the genetic diversity is sufficient, the cultural attractions (of an individual) become more important. Some things the same, some things different, some things we love, some things we despise; this is the recipe for finding someone.

Perfection it is not. But if we wait for perfection we’ll wait forever.