Monday, May 01, 2006


Finding the one

A lone tree in Rockefeller PreserveThe photo to the right is of my favourite tree in Rockefeller Preserve (click to see it (the photo, not the tree) full size). It stands there on the hill alone, a sentry along the Overlook Trail; when seen, as here, below from Swan Lake, it seems the king of the hill. Trees do well that way, on their own, will full room to spread.

People do not; we weren't meant to. We do best, at least most of us do, when we have friends in general, and a special one to share life with. So why is it so often so hard to find that special friend?

In a Huffington Post commentary, Shari Foos considers that issue as she "does the math" and looks at how our expectations affect our success:

Now there are 300,000 people, all of whom you could like. How many could you love? How many could you find to be truly compatible?
Both in my personal experience and within my psychotherapy practice I have found that many people expect their primary relationship to provide more than their partner has to give. This is not a bad thing, it's just that it's contrary to the fairy tales that ruined us.

Ms Foos suggests that it's our insistence on finding the perfect partner that keeps us from finding the right one; that if we would stop looking for that fairy tale and accept that we can't have everything, we would find our partners and be more than satisfied with what we've found.

She's right, of course, as far as it goes: many of us do have unreasonable expectations and demands, and many of us have already found Mr or Ms Right, but insist on looking further for that "ideal". But we're not all afflicted by that. Some of us are happy with accepting flaws, adapting, and loving good, compatible matches, though they be not perfect, and yet it still doesn't work. It's still elusive. Are Ms Foos's "on the napkin" calculations reasonable? Are there really some 300,000 good matches out there?

Maybe it's a lack of symmetry that's operating there: it takes two. You both have to be happy to accept and adapt. How many of those 300,000 are there who share that? Maybe that is what turns it into finding a needle in a haystack.

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