Monday, 30 January 2012

About Adams & Eves

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness (...)”

                                                                                                         Genesis 1:26

The other day my flatmate and I stupidly went to do our grocery shopping on a Saturday noon. Fascinating how every other person living in a 5 miles radius seems to have had the exact same idea. While waiting at the checkout counter one of the cashiers caught my attention. I found him quite attractive and pondered about the things he likes to do when not wasting his Saturday worse than we did. By the time we made it half way to the end of the queue my flatmate made a funny comment about my latest object of fantasy which clearly stated that she had an entirely different feeling about my Adam. She did not find him attractive at all and had all the wrong ideas about him. But did she really? I came to wonder how our perception of one and the same person could be poles apart.

In my image. After my likeness.

In the beginning there is us, with all of our characteristics, qualities and experiences. We believe to know exactly who we are and what we need. In our better half we are looking for someone to complement us and to offer us traits we don’t have ourselves, in order to feel complete. The older we get the more our ideas of the perfect significant other are formed. When risking a close enough look we will notice that this particular idea looks a lot like ourselves. When we make assumptions about people we find attractive we almost inevitably fill them with everything good about us. Our preferred object of fantasy will share a lot of our experiences and almost all of our opinions. I assume it is safe to say that our ideal partner is like us - only more so. Convenient, isn’t it?
When meeting a stranger that optically fits into our scheme of prey it seems to be very easy to fill that pretty shell with all we want to be in there. A beautiful body is the perfect projection surface for all of what we believe to need and want. Allegedly this illusive interaction of looks and ‘character’ makes people interesting. I mean who did not fantasise about a famous actor or actress, the new kid in class or the guy at the counter?
On the other hand it seems that we attribute people that don’t suit our ideal of attractiveness with negative characteristics.  That at least explains why my flatmate and I could not agree on counter guy.

Master of creation

Meeting someone in real life and possibly making all the wrong assumptions is easy. How about entering the virtual world? There you don’t only get to see your object of interest anytime you want but also get access to a lot more information. Due to Social Networks and dating platforms we can now not only build a better illusion of the other but also of ourselves. On the internet we can filter which information we want to share with the public and which we don’t. That gives us almost almighty power to create and reinvent ourselves according to who we feel like being seen as today. Only fly in the ointment: so can everybody else. The shell someone presents of themselves on the internet is devoid, despite the extra information we get. On the internet we will never see a person as they really are. We will only see who they themselves would like to be.

Rose coloured glasses - a look in the mirror?

How about falling in love then? Are the rose coloured glasses nothing more than a look into the mirror? Nothing more than us seeing what we are so desperate to see? Well, not entirely. In order to even make it till that stage there must be at least a basal verification of what we hoped to find in the other. Basically we can start to put our glasses on when we ensured that this person is not a complete dickhead - finding that out usually does not take too long since real dickheadedness is hard to hide. After we got up the courage to actually talk to each other, kind of like each other and fit into each other’s templates we might start to fall in love. And this is where misery begins...

Expulsion from paradise

Life and love would be pretty easy if our newly found perfect partner would not come with a free will. This vicious little option of disagreeing can sometimes shake our perfectly build illusion to the core and we have to swallow that sour tasting piece of apple of knowledge. Especially during the first few months of a relationship we experience these odd moments where our partner does not quite behave the way we would have expected them to. Or to put it better: our partner does not react the way we would have. With each of these smaller or bigger disappointments we peel off a layer of illusion and more and more get to know who we actually are with. We come to realize that this ideal we had is not quite equal to reality. So whether we want to or not here comes the moment of truth: Our partner is an autonomous thinking and living individual! It is time to so say goodbye to illusions, concepts and projections. When we really want to be with our partner we should carefully check what about them is ours and what is really theirs. People always say you should not try to change them but I figure this is exactly what needs to be done. We need to change them back who they really are and for that matter really start to get to know them. We should carefully examine what exactly happened when our expectations weren’t met by the other. Is it really them simply being ignorant or did we expect something totally unrealistic which if we are honest wasn’t ever going to happen?

What it is

Finding the right partner is tough as hell and we - as always - have great ways to make it even more complicated. In these hurried times we judge too quickly and make connections between someone’s outward appearance and their character. And even when we have found someone we keep complaining that they don’t behave as we would like them to. Still though we are entitled to have our expectations and are free to leave whenever those aren’t met.

Concerning counter guy - I was afraid he might be a dickhead and did not say hi!
Praise the internet!

'Illusion is the first of all pleasures.' - Oscar Wilde

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