"Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person" (New York Times article)

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My aunt and uncle, who've been married 35 years, say that this article is spot on. The author's attitude to marriage really resonates with me, but I'm curious how some of you respond.

Two excerpts:


The problem is that before marriage, we rarely delve into our complexities. Whenever casual relationships threaten to reveal our flaws, we blame our partners and call it a day. As for our friends, they don’t care enough to do the hard work of enlightening us. One of the privileges of being on our own is therefore the sincere impression that we are really quite easy to live with.

Our partners are no more self-aware. Naturally, we make a stab at trying to understand them. We visit their families. We look at their photos, we meet their college friends. All this contributes to a sense that we’ve done our homework. We haven’t. Marriage ends up as a hopeful, generous, infinitely kind gamble taken by two people who don’t know yet who they are or who the other might be, binding themselves to a future they cannot conceive of and have carefully avoided investigating.

And this:


No one can be in an optimal frame of mind to choose a partner when remaining single feels unbearable. We have to be wholly at peace with the prospect of many years of solitude in order to be appropriately picky; otherwise, we risk loving no longer being single rather more than we love the partner who spared us that fate.


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1 hour ago, Ringer said:

I disagree with the second excerpt. But a good article nonetheless.

Care to elaborate?

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         Yes, I agree, romanticism is the worst thing to have ever infected the idea of love in the context of relationships and turn it into narcissistic self-promotion and exploitation of a hedonistic relationship.  Romanticism is just a euphemism for the phrase, "bulls*** that feels good, and therefore opposed to the reality at hand."  It makes an individual not see their significant other for who they really are, but instead for who they want them to be.  Yet, hypocritically want that person to love them with their mistakes and all.  But, I think they understand that maybe that person would possibly not accept them for who they are as they are, so they also put up a façade and do their best to create a desirable impression of themselves to their significant other.  However, this game of charades can only go on so long before people become worn out and tired of being something they aren't.  Glimpses of who they really are come out more often, and this can cause disappointment and disillusion between the two parties in a couple.  If these glimpses of their authentic self emerge completely, or even remain as sometimes evident, divorce can happen.  Or, a forever unhappy, not-what-anyone-wanted-nor-expected kind of marriage. 

        I like the part of the article in the beginning that says "In a wiser, more self-aware society than our own, a standard question on any early dinner date would be: “And how are you crazy?”"  To be honest, if I ever date again, this would be one of the questions I would ask on a first date.  I would also have no problem answering the question either.  Supposed normal people scare the living daylights out of me.  Everyone has their quirks, because we are all individuals.  Fortunately for me as an individual, I'm a bit of a cynic and pessimistic according to society because I'm not the kind to go off in lala land and let dopamine rushes of dating someone dictate my behavior and how I perceive another.  This is what annoys me because I can see the guys that I have dated previously and those who like me who are too much in lala land and really do their best to block out that I have flaws and that I'm not by any means perfect, and all that jazz.  I hate how this happens, and if I were dating again, and this were to happen, I would just cut myself off from dating then and there.  I think people who can't deal with the harsh realities that come with a relationship, really are not meant to be in a relationship, because a fake idealizing relationship is not a relationship, but a shoddy impersonated imitation of what a real relationship is.  But then I guess they aren't actually in a relationship to begin with.  It's like the difference between an actual rose, and a fake rose you buy at an arts and craft store.  This is why I have the (controversial I'm guessing,) opinion that romantic movies are in various ways just as damaging, if not more than to watch than porn. 

     I also blame the "self-esteem" movement that is infecting and plaguing the media, schools, workplaces, self-help books, etc.  It's like people are being subliminally and even being consciously taught that they must think the utmost of themselves.  It's true.  Most people can't handle hearing bad about themselves, even if it's true, and even if it's done in a loving manner with the intent of being constructive, without having nothing short of a little meltdown.  People are taught that they must think they're intelligent, they're beautiful, they're kind, etc. and they must be these things, even if they're not.  Or even if they don't necessarily want to be.  People are told to conform in an idealized way that is not conducive to healthy mental and emotional thinking, and therefore not conducive to healthy relationships built upon the reality of life, the realities of what happens within the relationship, and the realities within their own selves.  I would actually want someone who lovingly gives me constructive criticism that would benefit me, and not coming from a place of their own selfish intentions and perspective of how I should be, so that I can improve myself and be a better person for me and our relationship.  And I would do the same for them.  But people are afraid of hard emotional work in which they metaphorically have to look at the dark side of themselves in the mirror.  And admit to begin with that they indeed do have a dark side.  The article is true in suggesting that friends usually never point this kind of stuff out to their friends, because they can't even do it in themselves; therefore people don't have any previous experience from friends for receiving constructive enlightening.  It's true, it's a sad fact that most "friends" don't care enough to enlighten you because it would cause uncomfortability in themselves to do so, and their comfortability is more important than your opportunity to possibly grow as a person and your temporary or permanent crossness at them for pointing out the truth.  That's why I only consider my close friends to be those who are blatantly honest.  And if one can't do this in a friendship, what more in a romantic relationship which is what apparently so many people pine for?  Sadly I think most people will do whatever they can, to varying degrees of course, even if it means sacrificing honesty for the sake of keeping a relationship going.     

     I also agree with this sentence from the article: "Marriage ends up as a hopeful, generous, infinitely kind gamble taken by two people who don’t know yet who they are or who the other might be, binding themselves to a future they cannot conceive of and have carefully avoided investigating."  This is sooo very true.  Although I think any relationship whether it ends up in marriage of not is a crapshoot, most marriages are more at a level of crapshoot than they need to be.  People think that researching their significant other's parents, childhood, yearbooks, likes/dislikes, height, hair color, income, career, a bunch of vapid and asinine facts about them makes them "know" their significant other and is enough for them to get married.  Who they are doesn't have any indication of who they are going to be around you and how they treat you.  And then most also fail to consider what kind of person they really have become around their significant other, and if they are content with this as well.  But unfortunately or fortunately, this is all a moot point to try and discover who your significant other is if they are placing up a façade, and I wish the best for anyone trying to figure out if they are or not. 

        As far as the whole marrying for logical / rational reasons originally, and the now marrying for feeling / love thing, I disagree with in the article quite a bit.  There are some people who aren't so madly in love with their significant other, but marry based on more logical / rational reasons they believe are more important than the love feeling.  People think arranged marriages only still happen in India and such countries, but think about how some people almost arrange marriages for themselves based on certain requirements: religion, race, kids / no kids, appearance, etc.  Some people won't even date someone if these requirements are not met.  Sure maybe there can be that love feeling with that other person, but some requirements based on logic / rationality need to be met.  Honestly, I don't really see all that much different between marriages that were more arranged based on logic / rationality back then and the marriages of now.  Both still led sometimes to infidelity, unhappy constantly bickering spouses, mothers left with the children, spouses leaving other spouses, etc.  It's just that now, we pick our own poison, in general, more based on love than on acquisition of property. 

     The next sentence that stood out to me that I semi-agree with and semi-disagree with is how people, "...find ourselves rejecting certain candidates for marriage not because they are wrong but because they are too right — too balanced, mature, understanding and reliable — given that in our hearts, such rightness feels foreign. We marry the wrong people because we don’t associate being loved with feeling happy."  If you are a self-actualized person who actually gives a s*** about yourself in a non-conceited way, but in a way that genuinely looks out for your own self-worth and dignity, then you would, at least to the best of your abilities, not self-sabotage yourself into a marriage that is not worthy of you.  I do agree though, because I do see it, how people will not even give the time to someone else, and just for some reason say they're not attracted to that someone for a reason they can't put their finger on, when really it's because subconsciously they aren't comfortable with a healthy, mature, balanced, loving, and understanding relationship / marriage and probably won't ever be ready for one like that.  In this way, I do agree with the article.  However, not everyone is like this and I would hope the article meant this statement as a generalization, and I would also like to point out that there really is no way of knowing whether the relationship you believe to be a healthy adult relationship will be that way once marriage happens.  So not everyone who ends up in such a crappy marriage had the mindset that they didn't deserve a healthy one, it's just that their a******/ b**** of a spouse was just a good actor during the dating phase and then showed their true colors once married, for whatever reason. 

   I also disagree with this sentence, "No one can be in an optimal frame of mind to choose a partner when remaining single feels unbearable. We have to be wholly at peace with the prospect of many years of solitude in order to be appropriately picky; otherwise, we risk loving no longer being single rather more than we love the partner who spared us that fate."  It's ridiculous to say that people can't make a rational opinion of choosing a partner because they are so lonely, and will give in to not being as picky and will marry out of desperation.  It's like saying that an overweight person who loves chocolate cake with a chocolate cake before them can't make the decision to not eat the chocolate cake because the overweight person can't choose a healthy lifestyle, since they are too vulnerable in a state of addiction towards chocolate cake to think clearly.  LOL.  I mean, maybe it might be a bit more difficult, but you can always be determined and hold yourself accountable, as well as ask people who are known to be blatantly honest and have your best interest to give their perspective on the partner you are dating.  In other words, tendencies and inclinations are not excuses for compulsions and going through with those tendencies and inclinations.  But, so it seems, many people do not have that strong self-discipline when it comes to love, and many people obviously if you look at the state of how messed up our world is, are starved for it.  And they will metaphorically drink a vial of poison, as long as there is even a drop of love in it.  Though I will say that feeling of lonely is not harmful in and of itself; after all, if one is not lonely and / or feels the need to be in a relationship, what is the point of getting into a relationship and thinking that you will be able to love that person as well as someone who actually really does want a relationship, considering all else to be equal?  So, once again a general statement made in the article that most people can probably relate to, but I can't, because I don't let my want of the idea of being in a healthy relationship ruin my reality of never having one. 

      I do agree though with the article that most think that marriage will be like this bundle of cozy fuzzy ball of yarn with rainbows, sunshine, and gum drops.  They marry to continue the dopamine rushes and lala land feeling they have around this person.  I think really all of what I'm trying to say boils down to, how can anyone marry the right person, when they themselves can't even be honest and accept the not so good times in their life well and maturely, without wanting to block it out and run away from it?  What more when you bring another person into the picture?  So really, I have no pity for those who end up in these wrong marriages whatsoever, and believe they deserved it justly, because it was kind of their fault to begin with.  The only exception of this demographic that I would have compassion for would be those who really were realistic but just ended up getting the wrong side of the crapshoot with a spouse who was a good actor during the dating phase and then showed their true colors during marriage.  That would be the only demographic of people who end up in the wrong marriage I would feel compassion for. 

       As far as not divorcing the person who you are in a "wrong marriage" with, is not up to me nor the person who wrote the article to decide.  Yes, I do believe if people actually tried harder and didn't have rosy lenses on, a lot of marriages would be saved, and hey, might even be relatively happy and satisfied marriages based upon reality!  But, this is not always the case, especially if we find out our spouse is the complete opposite of who they made themselves out to be.  Acting / faking / pretending to be someone you are not in the name of romanticism is not the same as just finding out your spouse is someone who is imperfect, just like anyone else.  Those two situations are completely different.  And having worked in a family / divorce law office before, I definitely know it's not any of my business nor opinion to make when it comes to whether someone should stay in a marriage or not; after all, I'm not the one having to live with the decision.  And actually, if someone is going to be so discouraged and quick to run away when the going gets tough, then it probably in a way is a blessing if that person divorces you because you probably deserve better, presuming you're a relatively decent person. 

        Also, not sure about "Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition."  It seems as everyone is an individual, for some compatibility will be more important, and for others to be happy and content in a marriage, it's not as an important factor.  Really, all of this just boils down to I believe, is that "pessimism" isn't such a bad idea in a society that encourages and at times even mandates impossibly high standards of "optimism" and "romance" in a relationship / marriage.  Honestly what is deemed to be "pessimistic" a lot of the times is really just what I consider to be the truth.  And you know what?  I actually think this makes me more inwardly content and genuinely happy than people with fake plastered smiles convincing themselves of their happy relationships / marriages.  I think it's more satisfying to be able to have a spouse and tell them, "Even though you can be a total d*** sometimes, I love you flaws and all for it, and accept you just the way you are,"  versus saying some delusional flowery crap like, "Oh honey, you're such a perfect angel, you're just the most perfectest angel and that's why I love you."  If any guy said anything like that to me, it would be a total red flag and I would run away as fast I could.  I don't want someone to love an idealized romantic image of me, I want them to love me.  And who I am is sugar, spice, and not always everything nice all the time.  And I would love them with the same amount of respect, knowing that they aren't all pleasant all the time.  Then again, I am of the controversial opinion that no matter how annoying / bothered we may be by a significant other's flaws, I believe that we also fall in love with their flaws as much as we fall in love with their "positive" traits.  After all, I think what someone's positive trait is, can at times also be their greatest negative trait and vice versa, depending on their situation.  But, I digress... LOL. 

      I would say this article would be true for most of the population.  But for people, who are rooted in reality, which seems to be a dying breed nowadays, then I think the article is less relatable, although understandable in regards to how they would see most of other people to be. 

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