Tuesday, October 24, 2006

To Be or Not To Be

A lot of people do a lot of crazy things to get a date, a partner, a spouse... pretending to be something they're not is one of the more common things, I suppose. Some people may do it unconsciously-- morphing into this picture perfect model of what they think the person they're trying to impress wants. Some people do it purposely-- to literally "catch" (or as I like to think of as more of entrapment...) a significant other (I was watching a really bad MTV reality show recently and a high school cheerleader proclaimed that she was going to major in M.R.S. in college-- meaning "Mrs" as in, forget about going to college for trivial things like, oh, I don't know, learning something that might sustain you through your life; but rather, "I'm going to college to get myself a husband." Uh, yeah.).

Ever since that book, "He's Just Not That Into You" came out (and yes, I read it-- partially because of the buzz-- that guy is really funny; and partially because I didn't actually buy the book; three people sent it to me. Thanks, guys. I get it. I choose bad men), I feel like the dating scene has gotten even crazier. And not in a good way. I have some friends who have taken it all to a new extreme, and rather than giving a relationship a chance to breathe and grow instead, everything is up for scrutiny and the most insignificant gesture, word or text (and don't get me started on texting-- I think that is one of the downfalls of modern day romance) is interpreted to mean that "he's just not that into me," and the person moves on. In a lot of ways, the book has been liberating for a lot of women who date losers-- it's not "me" that's the problem; it's "him"-- yadayadayada. But I think in a lot of ways, too, it has given a whole generation of neurotic women an easy "out" to regress into the fantasyland of fairy tales and happily ever after. Not good.

But to the point of this post, I was thinking earlier today about some of the people that I've dated or been interested in, and I was trying to figure out if there was a rhyme or reason to the attraction... and then I boiled it down to the somewhat successful relationships vs. the ones that didn't go anywhere... and the ones that sort of stalled were (and note that I'm generalizing here) always those where I felt inferior or I felt they were inferior in some way, shape or form, be it intelligence, talent or otherwise.

So, here's the question of the day: If we are to focus on one topic of the almighty inferiority complex, for a relationship to work, do/es:

A. Two parties need to be equally matched, in their intelligence, manner, sensibilities and the like.
B. One party needs to be smarter/more adventurous/more outgoing, etc. than the other.


Christina Shaver said...

OOOO!!! I like the brain teaser. First, I wonder what the measure for intelligence is?? Are we talking academic or practical here? Relationships in the past have worked for me when I've CONSIDERED myself to be about equal intelligence. That doesn't mean I wasn't the dumb one; I just THOUGHT I was bright enough.

My husband has an MBA from Northwestern. And I have an MBA from nowhere. I got as far as 16th grade and then threw in the towel. He may know more about business than I do, but when we talk about work, he still values my opinions and sometimes even goes with my suggestions. Sometimes.

For me what always seemed more important to me were values. I figured that as long as I could be on the same page with my partner where values are concerned, the rest kind of falls into place.

But in the end, I'm not sure that it's any one thing.

Anonymous said...

What a question you asked. It really made me think. As a scarred Relationship Veteran, I've only broken up with one person in my life because he wasn't smart enough. I was led astray by (1) Adventure (2) Romance (3) Rescue and (4) Rebound in that order. What finally led to a good marriage was living by myself for ten years and not even trying to find someone.

I think lots of the 30 and 40-somethings I know are shopping for a relationship, and I don't think that will ever work. In fact, it's a shopping frame of mind that leads to fault-finding and "he's just not that into me" (I want to read the book.) It's a hard world. You have to be vulnerable in order to make meaningful connections, and that can--and often does--lead to heartache.

In my own case, something that happened more than once was that someone put me on a pedestal, which is just another way of creating distance instead of intimacy. At first it was flattering, but ultimately it was lonely. I didn't know Charles was the one until eight years after I met him, and then it simultaneously hit both of us like a ton of bricks and we've never regretted it or backed off from it. He moved in a month after we first realized whatever it was that we realized. If you find someone who is able to make a commitment in this day and age, that's so much more important than ordinary smarts.

I don't think you'll have to wait as I did until you're 62 to find the One, because you're smarter than I am. (So is Charles, but I'm a better cook.)

Aunty Mikie