Monday, October 15

The Numbers Game

Generally, whether two people get on or not largely depends on two things:

  1. Who the two parties respectfully are - both on their own as individuals and when in the company of each other. This is largely made up from their experiences and how they grew up etc.
  2. What the two have been through together, or the context of their relationship - so their common work environment, college, shared uni mates and local friends, common relatives, whether they first met formally (say via an introduction) or not.
A lot of this is out of our hands. You can influence the first, but it's requires a conscious effort over a long period of time and is probably not worth it, while the second is just defined by destiny and circumstance and the like.

And so, although there are specific ways to make or break a specific relationship, I think that if you remain true to yourself and one happens to be more trouble than it's worth, I don't think that it's unreasonable to walk away. Even the most approachable person will eventually find people with whom they don't get along and there is no failure in being incompatible with someone, since at the end of the day you really are who you really are.

I'll go further and claim that people, in all their gorgeous uniqueness, are generally incompatible, and that the likelihood of meeting someone you are compatible with increases as you meet more people. Ironically, however, the closer two people want to be (be that just mates, FWBs, BFF or marriage partners), the more these incompatibilities matter.

But this is all pretty obvious stuff so far. Or is it? People seem to be pretty surprised when an introduction or potential rishta doesn't work out. Why is this? Well, let's consider some numbers.

Let's suppose that we line up one hundred people in order of compatibility with respect to our single test subject, Mr X. Let's suppose that they're equally spaced out with the first being totally incompatible and the last being totally compatible. Let's now suppose that Mr X requires 75% compatibility with another in order to seriously consider them to form a relationship with. This means that, in the worse case, Mr X needs to meet 75 of these people before he meets someone who fits the bill.

Of course these numbers have all been plucked out of the air and people can't simply be ordered in terms of compatibility and the like. The particular point I'm trying to make is that out of all the people we come across and meet in our busy social lives, the chances are that we'll only be compatible with a small number of them.

Which is why I've always said that this whole marriage lark is essentially just a simple game of numbers. Further, this is a game that works above objective criteria and background checks; incompatibility isn't due to one party not being able to cook, or being too short or not being virgin enough - even if all the boxes are ticked, if you're not compatible you're just not compatible. No, relationships break down for reasons much more abstract than these.

But it's not all bad news, since the converse implies that we might find ourselves to be compatible with people we wouldn't ever consider on paper. But if these pieces of paper we each carry with us are so useless, why don't we just throw them all away?

We each have an innate ability to figure out or feel whether we like someone or not, although admittedly some of us need to hone and trust that ability. But once we do that, all that's left to be done is to doggedly keep on looking for people until we find that someone who we happen to be compatible with - someone we usually won't recognise until we actually find them.