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Thanks to tamperevident for inspiring this one. Without the specifics, her comment was about a person who does similar things to what you might do, as you're trying to revise your behavior.

Or, to channel Carrie Bradshaw:

What happens when the person you like to be with is like the you you don't want to be like?

I've always been extremely discouraged by dating services or any group, organization, or system that purports itself to be there to get people to meet people for possible romance. I have had to be around some of them for certain jobs I have done in the past. These were jobs where I was doing research for the marketing company I worked for, and I placed ads in several journals and on a voicebox and online. It was generally just something of a "test market" concept for this long since out of business company when they were attempting to start up their own dating service. I attended "singles" gatherings, and met with potential consumers of our potential product. It was a very odd experience that I'll come back to in a bit.

Now, you have to remember that New York is a different animal from every other part of the country. There are agendas that are exclusive to this city. Certainly any other town's residents do not have even half of the issues that people here consider paramount when searching for someone. So, you have to keep that in mind, going into it. But even so, it's tough to deal with the scene. How did "finding someone" become so darn complicated?

In the olden days, the families of the potential couple were all involved in the decision making process, and many times, it was an arranged marriage that took place. These two families lived next door to each other, or in the same neighborhood or one town over. The fathers smoked pipes or cigars together and discussed the future. The mothers exchanged items from their pantries when they were making dinner. They knew each other's net worth, both monetarily and psychologically. They knew the capabilities of the pair, what sort of trade they could do, what were the likely earnings they could produce and how they could provide for their offspring. And these marriages would last, because both families had a stake in them, they were about building a bridge, and helping to retain the net worth, add to it or in the best case, double it.

It wasn't even about the "feelings" that the two people had for each other. This was, basically, a business plan, a financial obligation, and a manner of helping to bolster the family's wealth. There were a lot of considerations involved, and love, if it was even on the list, was near or at the bottom, any more than it would be for two cowboys that had a prized bull and cow. If they loved each other, great! If not, well, the sale gets made, just the same!

At some point, however, this was not the standard. Maybe it was when the families had less to do with their kids. Maybe it was after Hollywood built the case for romance over tradition. Maybe it was when some people abused their spouses because they felt it was their "right." Or maybe it was just the "commoners" that held no property that made the difference. Whatever it was, people eventually changed their opinions about how to go about this business of relationships and things changed.

The issue of what people want in a relationship is the point. So let's get to that.

If you find the person that you like early in your life, there are some good and bad things about it. The good is that you have the potential for a long and happy life together, with the person you truly care about. There are people who celebrate their 75th Wedding Anniversary! It's sort of insane to think of that, but it's true. So, that's a positive.

The problem is that if you find someone too soon, well, you'll discover that they are still changing, growing, still learning about who THEY are. Finding a person while they are still changing could be a Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde proposition, if you discover they like something you can't stand, or if they enter a line of work you find difficult to deal with, just as two examples. Even if the issues are not that extreme, there's still the point that the person you loved isn't the person that they were when you met them, and that could cause a lot of trouble, heartache and unwanted friction.

But, to spin it the other way, if you both are changing and growing, the thought is that you will change and grow together, and you will be even more solid and close for it.

That brings us back to the Dating Game. The problem here is that people expect to find perfection. They are looking for a fully self-actualized partner who is going to open themselves up to a liaison with them, and is completely perfect.

This is a huge obstacle.

The idea that you can find an instant perfect situation and just connect in that way is, I think, part of the reason the divorce rate is so high. When people get the mindset that it's all about finding what they want and that no work or effort is going to be needed, and if there is, then it isn't the right relationship, you are going to lose. That's not to say that you can't find a connection on a blind date or at a mixer, but it means that if you are looking for reasons to not connect with someone, you can probably find them.

I guess we apply pressure to each other when we are in these relationships. But the point is that it requires some give and take. If you have no intention of compromising your way of life for someone else, if you think you can find someone who will be your sycophant of love, well, maybe you will, but it's more likely you won't. Maybe you'd be better off alone for, oh, the rest of your life!

The problem is the longer you wait to find that relationship, the more perfect and wonderful it has to be. After all, if you wanted just a mediocre one, you could have run off with your lab partner from Bio class years before. You could have had two divorces and two ex-spouses by now!

Knowing who you are is such an important element. It's like finding where you are on a map. How can you get to where you want to go, if you don't know where you are? That's why it's so important to know yourself. And knowing yourself provides you with a bit more. It clues you in to knowing what you are looking for in a mate.

But the issue that started this thought was being with someone who has some of the same issues that you have, and how that can affect you or potentially prevent you from changing/improving.

It only adds to the weight of it all, this situation of being with someone who is like you, but may not be on the path to change. There are lots of stories about how friends sabotage their friends when they're trying to quit a habit. Leaving the cake out, or smoking and forgetfully offering a cigarette. It can only be worse when dealing with someone with whom you're extremely intimate. So, that is a larger hurdle to clear, but not impossible. If you are determined to change, then you need to find a way to do it that incorporates the relationship. Will this person change with you? If not, will that affect you and how you must interact with them? And will this cause problems?

In today's "it needs to be great or I'm leaving" world, are people putting up with such issues? It's so easy to dispose of a relationship for some. Just toss it away and get the next. The problem of how people even perceive something like that is a big part of it.

People do reveal themselves, to a degree. It's just a matter of paying attention. But again, the point is in knowing what you are looking for that matters.

Somehow, I think I've stated a lot, and yet said very little. Maybe any dialogue from people reading this can make it more worthwhile?

Feedback welcome!

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( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
nysidra
Oct. 9th, 2005 02:20 pm (UTC)
I stated the following to Joe when I married him: "I've loved a lot of men, not so much differently from yourself. The only reason I'm marrying you is because I know I can live with you. We're becoming roommates for the rest of our lives, and the love is a bonus."

I liked the way we communicated, worked through our problems, handled short-comings. We're forthright with each other and don't hold anything back.

We've both got stuff to 'work around' when it comes to living together, as we're no perfect match, but it's not so hard to get around.

There's more harmony than dissonance, and I'd like to believe that's an indicator of a long lasting partnership.
penpusher
Oct. 10th, 2005 06:58 am (UTC)
This is a measured and rational way of looking at the situation. I think if people approached it this way, there would be much more success when it comes to marital relations.

I'm sure you'll have a very long and happy marriage, and you are well on your way to that already! <33
annamaryse
Oct. 9th, 2005 05:51 pm (UTC)
> New York is a different animal from every other part of the country. There are agendas that are
> exclusive to this city. Certainly any other town's residents do not have even half of the issues that
> people here consider paramount when searching for someone...

I'd like you to elaborate on that if you don't mind...

Also a few comments. You said:

> The idea that you can find an instant perfect situation and just connect in that way is, I think, part of the reason the divorce rate is so high.

I couldn't disagree more. I think the divorce rate is high because people often marry for the sake of marrying... marrying to fulfill what they perceive of as others expectations, for instance. And then, there's the common mistaken believe in 'happily ever after'.

When I was in my early 20s and went blonde for the first time, I had a whole new realm of men that came after me - they'd look at me as if thinking "there's one, she'll do..." and I noticed that men often chose mates based on convaluted logic. I had a guy once say to me "When people look at me, they expect me to have a certain kind of standard, I wouldn't want them to think I was losing my touch, or slipping" meaning, he was living up to a perceived expectation. The classic 'trophy wife' phenom.

I think that the divorce rate is high because people are often caught up with the romance of the marriage, all the overblown fuss over the wedding, the elaborate wedding planning and bloated expenses thereof, then reality sets in, and they're simply not prepared.

There is a girl on my friends list who married a guy this year, and the guy is a big a=hole. He's never going to change, he's a big loser, and she could have done so much better, but she married him because she sees 'potential' in him. Trust me on this, that's a trap. WYSIWYG applied to marriage as well as web technology.

More to the point, I believe that some people don't know what connected means if it hits them in the face. How connected we are, or are capable of being, I don't think current social order teaches or demonstrates this. Some people get it, some don't.

Any boyfriend I've ever had, I've felt a massive impact of being connected right away, from the getgo. Not a naive love-at-first-sight... but a true sense of connection and emotional flow. I have also experienced being with someone who didn't understand what being connected meant, and believe me, that is weird.

It is important to know who you are. But, who I used to think I was? I totally believed in the external illusion of 'what I put out there' and didn't really know how to listen to what was really at my core.

And regarding

> this situation of being with someone who is like you

There is always going to be difference and similarity between any two people. We feel kinship in ways we are similar and then there's the old 'opposites attract' phenom. I've been with Rich for seven years. There are some ways in which we have similar 'stuff' -- and the areas where we have the most trouble are the areas where we both have the same 'stuff', that's a given. But we're not out to sabotage one another. That's not a product of having similar stuff, that would be a product of addiction, and there is stuff that isn't addiction. For instance - both of us have trouble rsvp-ing. We always leave it too late. So as a couple, we suck at that. We know we need to do better, but we don't. If one or the other of us was better at it, we'd just trust it each to the other, but we don't. (I intentionally picked an innocuous example)

I do believe that people grow together. Also, I believe that the 20th century concept of marriage is something that suited that piscean age. As we move further into the aquarian age, new rules are going to be applied more and more. We're covering a lot of ground in each lifetime now, and the need to spend 60 years in a karmic pattern with one partner is not necessarily right for each individual.
penpusher
Oct. 10th, 2005 07:22 am (UTC)
Elaborating...

In New York, priorities cause people to do things they probably would not do in other circumstances in other places. There isn't a lot of patience here. With so many people, it's kind of a "volume" game that occurs, which means that if you don't connect right away, you are tossed. That "Speed Dating" concept was specifically designed for the NY mentality.

What you do is more important than what you are like. The first thing that people ask about is what your job is. This can be off-putting if you aren't pulling down six figures in a brokerage firm, or doing something equally lucrative.

And you can say that "a woman who is interested in money first isn't worth pursuing," but it still hurts to be tossed away on their terms. It doesn't help the psyche.

NYC also has another issue that no other place around has: Real Estate. More specifically, the trade off of where you live and what you live in. You could have a Three bedroom apartment in Washington Heights, or an efficiency studio on the Lower East Side. Is there a view of any landmark buildings from your window, or do you even HAVE a window?

I could go into great detail about this, but I think you get the gist.

I have to say that we're both right about why the divorce rate is high. I did say that my reason was a part of it, and I firmly believe that people going into the situation expecting it to be perfect and to not need to work at it is definitely a part. Irreconcilable Differences is the term, and it stems, at least some of the time, from people not seeing the situation the same way, not being able to deal with how their partner behaves.

I won't deny that your suggestion that people marrying because they feel an obligation is another piece of that pie. But it's clearly not one in lieu of the other.

Clearly, to make a relationship work, first, do no harm! If you truly care about the other person, you aren't going to make them suffer, or abuse them, take advantage of them, or behave in a thoughtless, selfish manner. But so many people in relationships don't bond with their partner in that way, so they don't feel the sense of responsibility to stick to that behavior, and you get... what a lot of people get!

We still have so much to learn about relationships. It's clearly a major part of life on this planet. A lot of the time, it feels like we have not progressed at all from the cave days!

It is in the relationships that we can find ourselves, we can learn, we can become better people. Or just the opposite.
annamaryse
Oct. 10th, 2005 02:05 pm (UTC)
"What you do is more important than what you are like" - I guess that's true in SF and LA too. And in LA area code is another issue. What someone's area code is telegraphs 'a lot' to savvy angelinos.

That makes sense, really. If you're a driven career-oriented human, knowing what a potential partner is capable of can be a legitimate detail. I can't think of a time when 'What do you do?' wasn't question #1. Anywhere, really. But then, I've tended to live in 'major centers'. And I haven't only seen that question valid in terms of dating.
lisaburks
Oct. 9th, 2005 06:04 pm (UTC)
Oh Dean, I love it when you go all Carrie Bradshaw on us! ;D My theory is that dating services are in business to make money, which they do whether clients find Mr./Ms. Right or not. I've heard more horror stories about online dating than happy endings and yet surprisingly I still know of people who will give it a shot, or two or ten, anyway. The main reason they make money is because so many people want the 'perfect' partner and that's never going to happen because we're all human and flawed. I'd love to see a dating service that focuses more on profile questions that ask you to list your flaws and worst-case scenario bad behavior or how you deal with conflict, then instead of matching you for compatible interests or what you look like or what you think constitutes a romantic evening, matches you on compatible baggage like a beautifully matched set of luggage. Everyone puts their best foot forward when dating, and that sets the standard early on re: what to expect on good days with this person while we wait for the other shoe to inevitably drop. I think it would work better if you got the bad stuff out of the way first and then if you can handle that together, ride off into the sunset on the good stuff. ;D
tinystar82
Oct. 9th, 2005 06:25 pm (UTC)

Oh Dean, I love it when you go all Carrie Bradshaw on us!



Thats exactly what I was thinking! I could picutre him sitting in his NY appartment, after cocktails w/ his friends, typing away on his laptop.

hes got the curly hair down too!
penpusher
Oct. 10th, 2005 10:29 am (UTC)
I don't have a crew of regulars that I go shopping or have lunch with though. It's not an exact science!
penpusher
Oct. 10th, 2005 10:27 am (UTC)
That's a theory that has a lot behind it!!

Promise them the world! If you're lovelorn enough, you'll buy it. P.T. Barnum was right. There's one born every minute.

At least those people got laid.
tygerx
Oct. 14th, 2005 05:11 am (UTC)
And doesn't help to have quadruple virgoness running thru me.. i'm doooooomed, lol :|
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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