Category: Friendships/relationships

On marrying the wrong person

| July 12, 2014 | Reply

The Philosopher’s Mail offers some wisdom here:

All of us are crazy in very particular ways. We’re distinctively neurotic, unbalanced and immature, but don’t know quite the details because no one ever encourages us too hard to find them out. An urgent, primary task of any lover is therefore to get a handle on the specific ways in which they are mad. They have to get up to speed on their individual neuroses. They have to grasp where these have come from, what they make them do – and most importantly, what sort of people either provoke or assuage them. A good partnership is not so much one between two healthy people (there aren’t many of these on the planet), it’s one between two demented people who have had the skill or luck to find a non-threatening conscious accommodation between their relative insanities.

The very idea that we might not be too difficult as people should set off alarm bells in any prospective partner. The question is just where the problems will lie: perhaps we have a latent tendency to get furious when someone disagrees with us, or we can only relax when we are working, or we’re a bit tricky around intimacy after sex, or we’ve never been so good at explaining what’s going on when we’re worried. It’s these sort of issues that – over decades – create catastrophes and that we therefore need to know about way ahead of time, in order to look out for people who are optimally designed to withstand them. A standard question on any early dinner date should be quite simply: ‘And how are you mad?’

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The importance of picking one’s partner carefully

| March 2, 2014 | Reply

Huffpo quantifies the meaning of a romantic relationship:

When you choose a life partner, you’re choosing a lot of things, including your parenting partner and someone who will deeply influence your children, your eating companion for about 20,000 meals, your travel companion for about 100 vacations, your primary leisure time and retirement friend, your career therapist, and someone whose day you’ll hear about 18,000 times.

Intense shit.

So given that this is by far the most important thing in life to get right, how is it possible that so many good, smart, otherwise-logical people end up choosing a life partnership that leaves them dissatisfied and unhappy?

Instead of doing serious research, most of us do our search haphazardly, falling prey to the availability heuristic:

In a study on what governs our dating choices more, our preferences or our current opportunities, opportunities wins hands down — our dating choices are “98 percent a response… to market conditions and just 2 percent immutable desires. Proposals to date tall, short, fat, thin, professional, clerical, educated, uneducated people are all more than nine-tenths governed by what’s on offer that night.”

In other words, people end up picking from whatever pool of options they have, no matter how poorly matched they might to be to those candidates. The obvious conclusion to draw here is that outside of serious socialites, everyone looking for a life partner should be doing a lot of online dating, speed dating, and other systems created to broaden the candidate pool in an intelligent way.

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Secrets of happy couples

| February 9, 2014 | Reply

What are the secrets of happy couples? I found this well-crafted infographic on Lifehacker.

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The story about small Kentucky towns and gays

| August 15, 2013 | Reply

Excellent work by Stephen Colbert:

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The other side of parenting

| May 27, 2013 | Reply

I’ve enjoyed being a parent, though it has sometimes been a lot of work. I’m proud of who my two daughters are turning out to be. They teach me many things, including humility.

Recently I read this post at Huffpo, an extraordinarily sad post, or at least that is how I reacted. This website features the comments of people for whom parenting is a sad, and sometimes dismal experience. It includes a “confessional” where people often openly express their dark thoughts regarding their own children. Here’s the post, and here’s the “Scary Mommy Confessional.”

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Other things security cameras capture

| April 20, 2013 | Reply
Other things security cameras capture

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In New Zealand, an historic vote on gay marriage, and then a song

| April 20, 2013 | Reply

New Zealand recognizes gay marriage:

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The importance of grooming in human animals and the other primates.

| March 10, 2013 | Reply
The importance of grooming in human animals and the other primates.

Here are a few photos I took at the St. Louis Zoo over the past few weeks. All of these involve physical grooming by primates, three of them featuring two orangutans and one of them involving a larger group of chimpanzees. This is one of the ways these animals know who is their friend or foe.

Orang Grooming

Orang grooming II

Orang Grooming III

chimpanzees grooming

We human animals groom for this same purpose, but we generally engage in verbal grooming: gossip. Using words rather than physical grooming we can connect with many more fellow humans at one time than any of those animals limited to physical grooming. I make this claim based on the work of Robin Dunbar.

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How Ayn Rand destroyed a home

| August 16, 2012 | 13 Replies
How Ayn Rand destroyed a home

Salon presents a young adult’s description of how Ayn Rand destroyed her family. This vivid and intensely personal article by Alyssa Bereznak exposes the ugly underbelly of objectivism, summed up by the following words by Ayn Rand:

My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.

I disagree with those who believe that Rand offers a path to a meaningful life. I see life as a yin-yang dynamic, a struggle we all have trying to balance our own needs and wants with the needs of the group. [More . . . ]

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