A few weeks ago I was asked, “Why don’t you have a better half?” and I responded with a generic response – something like, “Oh I don’t know, I just don’t”. Of course, hours later I came up with the rather witty response of “Because I haven’t yet found even a half that’s better than I am!” The arrogant and egotistical side of me was very proud that I could come up with such a clever return, but of course it was completely useless as the situation had long passed. I am, though, undoubtably your go-to man for wit, if required the following day.
The occasion would have gone completely unnoticed had that been the only time it had arisen. I was asked a similar question just a few weeks previous, and had given a similar, non-specific response.
Now I am not the first person to think about the intricacies and fallacies of the idea of love, nor am I the first to write about it. That being said, I think that love is one of those few fundamental things that all of humanity can relate to. It probably doesn’t matter how many times we question it, curse it, swoon over it or take advantage of it, it will always be as relevant to our lives as bees are to honey.
But alas, it did get me thinking again. There always seem to be those individuals who find themselves in relationship after relationship. One doesn’t work out, and then the next is just around the corner. Now, are these people just better looking than the rest of the population? Do they all have remarkable personalities that make then endlessly attractive? Or are they just more open to different people? The flip side is also heavily prevalent. There are people who have have one relationship every now and then, or even less. Are these people just less likeable? Maybe these people don’t require the same number of chances to reach the person they are most compatible with?
Compatibility, I think, is the most crucial issue when it comes to relationships. It has very little to do with ones likes, dislikes, or general mannerisms. It’s one of those things that we cannot define. That, surely, makes falling in love one of the most remarkable things we as humans experience.
We live in a world with over seven billion people. It seems statistically unlikely that each of us is only compatible with one particular person. We have experienced this first hand, I am sure. Most of us have a number of people we get along with, people we can spend hours with and not be frustrated of their company. We call them friends – surely these people satisfy some standard of compatibility? Why do we not date them all?
The answer is simple and plainly obvious. Love and attraction is not just about compatibility. It should be, I believe, but we have been so instilled into a structure and ideal of love that we cannot deviate from it. It is this ideal that we will fall in love with someone whom is the correct gender we have chosen, they should be attractive in our eyes and must, in addition, hold a certain degree of compatibility. But surely this narrows down the number of people that we could possibly spend our lives with?
Let us say that out of the seven billion people on earth, we are ‘compatible’ with one billion of them. Then, maybe half of them are not the ‘correct’ gender. Then, maybe, we only find a quarter of that number physically attractive. That leaves us with considerably less people that we could live happily ever after with.
The thing is, though, that our selection criteria does not end there. It is a biological trait that we are attracted to those that are like ourselves. This means that, generally, we are more likely to find love within our own race. This further narrows the field. We nearly always look for someone within our age group, and further more within our social circles. Then, we have to add personal preferences. Maybe I would like to date someone that speaks french? Maybe I need them to be able to cook? Maybe they should be super rich? The field just gets narrower and narrower.
Say then, after we have added all of our own personal criteria, we are left with a number of around 500. The earth is a very big place. What if most of these compatible people live on the other side of the world?
A far more frightening thought, I believe, is the following. What if we have already met one of these compatible people, and we messed up the relationship with them? What if we are accidentally reducing the number due to our own fallacies?
Yes, I have made us all very scared, and I apologise for that, but I do have a point to all of this. I will express it by talking about lego.
When I was a child, I always loved playing with lego. I loved building towers and castles, little bridges and trucks. One day, I decided to build a tower. I wanted it to be a green tower. I went through all of my lego pieces and found all the green ones, then proceeded to build. Inevitably, however, I ran out of the green pieces before I could finish it. I was distraught as I could not build the tower that I wanted. Of course, I dealt with the blow, and began to add different coloured pieces. It was unpleasant at the beginning, the tower was all uneven and not uniform as I had imagined. I finished, however, and the tower stood grand. I decided then that I would add a fence around it, add a drawbridge and a garage. The tower stood still and upright, holding my lego structure together.
Every little brick that I didn’t really want there, still standing up straight, and being the tower I needed.