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.
I am allegedly one of the lucky ones. My models – aka parental units – created zero expectation around my life. It feels liberating now, and also empty. When you receive no guidance as to the possible choices, an immature person is cast adrift. And drifting through life is not as happy as it sounds.
I am talking here about relationships and how to fit yourself onto the coupling plane.
More usually, young people are given a few vague ideas. You know the kind of thing: marriage is work, but a good thing; children are gigantically rewarding but provide pain until you die; you’re gonna get hurt so learn to get over it.
This is life.
They are also generalizations. Some people should never be married. Some people should never have children. And a lot of people do more hurting than are hurt. That is life, and the sappy advice from parents (who probably know dick about it themselves) will not help you.
We all must find our own way, incurring the smallest harm on others in the process. Heeding foolish media-driven advice and ignoring your own mind can lead only to unhappiness…and to that of the people around you.
Part of the reason I write here is because I figured out how little I knew. Relationships, women, how to be close…I had no clue. How to accommodate, how to resolve conflict, why conflict arose, the work required to maintain a relationship were all vast oceans of zero understanding.
The list goes on. Why couldn’t I find the right person? What is dating for? From whom should I seek advice? Is this level of frustration normal? Am I doing the right thing? Should I be doing something else? Talk about being scattered.
And then when I found girlfriends, the uncertainty continued. Friends say I should do this. I don’t think so. Why did she say that? Why did she do that? Why doesn’t she see it my way? Why is she upset? Why am I upset?
Basically I created a database of every circumstance in human relationships that might go wrong, feel bad, turn out bad and reduce everyone involved to tears.
But it didn’t start out that way. Like (I suspect) most people, I thought I had some innate ability to navigate the abstract world of bringing others close. Well, I don’t. And neither do you, most probably. But I know for certain that we can stop being clueless and get a few clues. They’re out there.
The photograph is of Melba Roy Mouton, Assistant Chief of Research Programs at NASA’s Trajectory and Geodynamics Division in the 1960s.