I want to warn everybody that here, as in all of my other posts and comments, I offer an opinion inspired by my worldview. People who find this worldview upsetting or disturbing should feel free to move on to other resources.
You know these annoying people who meet, click instantly, and become obnoxiously inseparable? Those two creatures who, years into a relationship, hide in a corner at a party or sit at a restaurant, chattering away like they haven’t had a chance to talk to each other for a decade? Who – if they are very considerate – make efforts not to tell everybody about how they finish each other’s thoughts and have the same dreams? Who seem to be so completely different, yet somehow manage to remain together and have lots of fun over the years? And who behave like this charming couple from Chapter XII of Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat?
What is it that makes these couples work and preserve their feelings for each other for years?
Two things: a powerful sexual attraction plus a coincidence in what I will call family scenarios. A family scenario is a pattern of relationships between family members that exists within each family and is reproduced by each generation without even being consciously aware that such a pattern exists. When I started researching my own family scenario, I discovered, to my infinite surprise, that most of the things I was going through were not that unique. My mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, great-great-grandmother (and probably all those women who came before them) already dealt with these issues, felt these emotions, experienced these situations, and even said the same words.
So here is what I discovered about my family scenario:
- it usually involves one gregarious, authoritative, slightly (yeah, right) domineering partner and one kind, gentle, patient partner.
- one of the partners is usually involved with languages and writing while the other works with numbers (mathematics, statistics, accounting).
- one partner is usually autistic and another mitigates his or her autism.
- one is usually creative and messy while the other is meticulous and organized.
- there is usually an ethnic or a class difference between the partners.
- one has a very close relationship with their extended family while the other has none.
- one is sarcastic while the other one is sincere and honest.
- one attracts a huge social circle without even trying while the other one needs no social circle.
As you walk through life with your scenario, you look for a person who will want to play the role of the other partner in it. So when you meet a person who needs somebody precisely like you to play the starring role in their scenario and they are eager to play a role in yours, you click like two pieces of a Lego puzzle. The more points of coincidence there are in your scenarios, the stronger your relationship will be.
Of course, if you analyze your scenario and decide you are very happy with it and don’t want to change it, like I did, then things are easy. It becomes more difficult when you realize that your scenario sucks and decide you don’t want to perpetuate it. People usually try to address this situation by applying their willpower. Which is pretty much as silly as trying to stop overeating or cure depression with one’s force of will.
A guy I know grew up with an abusive alcoholic father who beat both him and his mother into a bloody pulp. When the guy grew up, he hated alcohol, abhorred alcoholics, and decided never to follow in his father’s footsteps. Twenty years have passed since then. He is now a violent alcoholic who is probably never sober enough to remember his youthful resolutions.
Pretending that the scenario isn’t there is pretty much like choosing not to believe in climate change. It isn’t going away no matter how many times you tell yourself it’s all a conspiracy by nasty people who want to keep you down.
The very first step on this journey is, of course, finding out as much as you can about your family history and analyzing it in terms of patterns you can spot. If you see, for example, that women in your family usually have a three-year-long first marriage, that’s a pattern that is worth noting. Such knowledge is central for understanding why one always keeps ending up in a certain type of relationship without trying to. This is why I always say that people who conceal their children’s true paternity from them are the vilest jerks imaginable. They effectively rob their children of a chance of engaging in this sort of analysis.
P.S. I really hope people will not start responding to this post with “I’m nothing like my mother!” This will be very boring.