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Tuesday, December 21, 2004


Why a post on a personal matter, like relationships in couples?

Because this is a site about ideas. Ideas on many and various subjects, with something in common: I believe that they all touch important topics.

So, the themes will mainly be questions of general, social interest, like politics and ethics, but sometimes personal matters will be covered too.

For years I've believed that a relationship was something you had to work on, and you had to build it, to use a metaphor, like a house.

I now think of it more like gold. In Medieval Europe, alchemists were trying to discover the philosophers' stone, the substance which they hoped would turn all metals into gold. They obviously never did. Gold is either there or isn't. It's a given. You can't create it or build it, you can only find it if you're lucky, or not find it if you're unlucky.

Or, to remain in the house metaphor, you can build, yes, but only if you've found the right foundation for your house, a solid basis of rock or stone. If you've found a sandy terrain, there's nothing you can do to make your building a success. It will always collapse in the sand under it. And then you may say to yourself: if I hadn't put that wall in that point, if I had moved it a bit to the left, or to the right, the building would have resisted.

No, if you've built on the sand the result will always be the same: the house will not resist.

Now, that terrain which you must be lucky enough to find for your building is, in a relationship, a solid basis of compatibility between the two people which, again, is there or is not there. It may depend on many factors to do with people's backgrounds, family history, childhood, genetics, experience, choices, and the general way in which people develop their personality. This fundamental compatibility that I'm talking about obviously concerns primary, vital questions, or at least so considered by the people involved.

Obvious domains will be political ideas, ethical ideas, social behaviour, attitudes towards other people, what one expects to achieve in life, how one regards love relationships and one's expectations from them, and so on.

About fidelity, a British survey of women in 1993 found two thirds would not forgive a single act of infidelity by their partners, so the quickest and easiest way to wreck a relationship is to have sex with someone else: just once will suffice in most cases. Men are slightly more tolerant of unfaithfulness. Just over half would forgive one act of infidelity, but three out of four would walk out if it happened again.

There are huge differences between men and women when it comes to relationships generally though. For example, if it came to conflict between job and relationship, only 6% of women would put the job first and almost six out of ten would choose the relationship as the priority.


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