And, how are you crazy?
When first looking out for a partner, the requirements we come up with are coloured by a beautiful non-specific sentimental vagueness: we’ll say we really want to find someone who is ‘kind’ or ‘fun to be with’, ‘attractive’ or ‘up for an adventure…’
It isn’t that such desires are wrong, they are just not remotely precise enough in their understanding of what we, in particular, are going to require in order to stand a chance of being happy – or, more accurately, not consistently miserable.
All of us are crazy in very particular ways. We’re distinctively neurotic, unbalanced and immature, but don’t know quite the details because no one ever encourages us too hard to find them out. An urgent, primary task of any lover is therefore to get a handle on the specific ways in which they are mad. They have to get up to speed on their individual neuroses. They have to grasp where these have come from, what they make them do – and most importantly, what sort of people either provoke or assuage them. A good partnership is not so much one between two healthy people (there aren’t many of these on the planet), it’s one between two demented people who have had the skill or luck to find a non-threatening conscious accommodation between their relative insanities.
The very idea that we might not be too difficult as people should set off alarm bells in any prospective partner. The question is just where the problems will lie: perhaps we have a latent tendency to get furious when someone disagrees with us, or we can only relax when we are working, or we’re a bit tricky around intimacy after sex, or we’ve never been so good at explaining what’s going on when we’re worried. It’s these sorts of issues that – over decades – create catastrophes and that we, therefore, need to know about the way ahead of time, in order to look out for people who are optimally designed to withstand them. A standard question on any early dinner date should be quite simply: ‘And how are you mad?’
The whole article is brilliant — read it. But, this final line says it all:
Preparing us for marriage is, ideally, an educational task that falls on culture as a whole. We have stopped believing in dynastic marriages. We are starting to see the drawbacks of Romantic marriages. Now comes the time for psychological marriages.
We’re already seeing how the internet is radically reshaping the dating world into deliberate connections between people who have made no bones about being, “In the market,” for a spouse.
But, that’s only halfway there.
Now, we need a world where psychometrics are allowed to define a pool of potential dates from which to select and explore — one that works much more fluidly than the cumbersome silence of eHarmony or the pseudo-psychological silliness of most of the rest.
And, one where people are trained for marriage at least, as well as we, train them to drive an automobile… (Which, quite frankly, would still be inadequate…)