Monday, April 6, 2009

Game Theory

Talking about relationships lately... triggered by the most common trigger for such conversations - the dissolution of one.

But amongst my group, the angle of that conversation that has been most consistent across the last many years is not "why didn't he love ME," but rather, "why didn't I love him? Am I too selfish or unrealistic or cold?"

During the most recent conversation on this topic, I expounded on my take on it - which revolves around relative power distribution.

But first, more background. This particular variation of the "relationship discussion" is about rejecting men who are decent and kind and trustworthy - GOOD men without commitment issues or heavy emotional baggage or other "major" flaws.

Of course, the answer might be as simple as "we didn't love them." But what lies beneath that rather facile explanation?

Since I only remember 40% of what people (including myself) say, it comes as no surprise that I need my friends to recount certain conversations to me. SK and IC have both independently reminded me that they once asked me if I loved my ex-husband. Apparently, I answered, "No, but I trust him."

Putting aside the possible explanation that we are a cold-hearted bunch incapable of loving, why did we not appreciate what we had or could have? Optimistically, I choose to believe that we just haven't yet met the "right" men - specifically, men whose opinions we care about, men for whom we will make the continued effort to make happy, men we respect. (At the end of the day, what we choose to respect, TRULY respect, is highly personal and sometimes inexplicable. )

But to drill deeper, it comes down to power, specifically in the inequality of it. With most of my past relationships, there was no equality vis-a-vis power. I held all of it. And that never held my interest for long. According to SK, witnessing my marriage was like "watching a mountain lion trying to date a stuffed animal."

So if a balance of power is important, desirable, even... that opens up another can of worms.

To quote SK again: "that's when relationships get scary."

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