Monday, August 16

Presacrificing

WARNING: Another awesomely gratuitous post about myself. Reading back even I think I'm being a bit of a self-absorbed tit, so if you do too don't be too surprised/cruel.

While having a group conversation about - yes, you've guessed it - marriage, someone made a simple point, quite possibly in passing, but which has kinda stuck with me since, opening up a whole new level of thinking (in my typical over-thinking and over-analytical fashion).

She said that the love a person needs is completely individual to them, and that effort will need be be made in order to figure that out.

Okay so it's hardly the insightful philosophical statement I billed it to be. But nevertheless the thing which struck me was how important the order and timing of things were rather than the effort or focus made; that part of loving someone is precisely to figure out how to love them. And yes, the logician in me is screaming at the recursion in that statement; presumably it starts with a spark or something.

Common sense? Well maybe. On to me.

I've written before about how the lack of any women in my life growing up may have had an effect on how I perceive, and so, treat them. A part of this reaction was to actually take notice of the typical things women used to complain about and try to figure out how to best avoid the issues that they had. This need to please, along with my incessant desire to marry and the fact that I'm a total planner in almost everything I do resulted in my taking some pre-emptive and long term measures in the way I lived my life.

So for example after a woman complained that her husband spent too much time at work, I specifically began to write off demanding careers that would get make me work odd hours or weekends or spend days or weeks away (the fear of a pager interrupting dinner with my family was the deciding factor in me declining to study medicine). The way women complained about not having enough to make basic ends meet spurred me to work hard in school and beyond in order to get a well paid job. The mere existence of the term "football widows" put me off following the sport, and so I chose other more partner-friendly things like movies instead (including chick flicks and Bollywood). The declaration that "chivalry was dead" spurred me to make opening doors, walking on the roadside and carrying bags for the ladies a habit.

And it goes on. Complaints about men not being around and choosing to hang with their mates instead of their families made me either keep friends at a disposable distance or become close to those who would welcome my wife alongside me. The lamenting about newlyweds having to leave home made me aim to look for a wife in my locality. Resistance toward having to live with in-laws meant I would start saving for a house to move into (complete with space for both our sets of parents if the need ever arose) instead of blowing my money on a fancy Merc. All that moaning about how Asian guys got to be promiscuous and insist on pure wives convinced me to keep it straight.

Fat husband getting you down with his smoking? Well then I'll keep slim and stay away from the ciggies. Does your bloke not have an interest in how you look? Heck I even formed opinions on ladies fashion (here and here). Does your man not talk to you about how he feels? Well, you get the idea.

Now before you all swoon at how much of a dreamboat I am (I can see you toppling over as I type), this isn't me listing all the qualities that would make me a good husband and how under-appreciated myself and other nice guys are. In fact I'd be lying if I said many of these things weren't due to other factors like my religion or decent upbringing and some are more incidental and post-justified than others. And of course there's plenty of things that I can work on too, so I'm not playing the martyr or falling on my sword here.

But I have suddenly noticed that the above all goes exactly against the very simple point my friend spelled out for me above. Instead of figuring out what a person needs, I've gone ahead and decided for them.

The problem is that I've totally disregarded any individuality members of the fairer sex might have. For each commitment and sacrifice I made, no matter how well intentioned, I created a further template that my future partner would have have to conform to. And just like with checklists, the more criteria we have, the less likely it is to find someone who fits them all. Yes, of course some women would like a fully available husband, and yes, many others would like him to have manners. But it doesn't mean that all will want all these things at the same time. So perhaps I could make the right girl really happy; it's just that now most girls aren't right.

So this essentially boils down to a lack of flexibility and dynamism on my part, totally missing that people (not just women) have quite naturally changed and developed and may want something else now. They no longer complain about the things they used to, either because they don't care or have found some kind of parity or justice in the situations they found themselves in before; so it's now normal for either gender to provide financial security, have their own space and partake in non-casual yet not-marital relationships. Whether these are good or bad things is not the point of this post (but I've spoken about it elsewhere), the point is that they're all out of whack with what I've conditioned myself to be able to offer.

But even if I was able to adapt further to a particular girl's needs, there's still a few issues here. I already am now who I already am, and for someone not to acknowledge and regard these things would at best be unappreciative of me and my development and at worst quite undermining of all those efforts I've already made - I'd pretty much be redundant. This goes both ways of course; due to the reasons stated above since I already believe I've done these things for her, I find it difficult to understand why she would want anything else. And hey: even if I found someone who did want these things, how could she ever appreciate them? I didn't do them for her, I did them for a potential she just happens to coincidently fill (otherwise known as Spammy's Eighth). Finally, I guess I have a little expectation that she would have prepared for me as much as I have for her. I fully recognise how unfair and unreasonable that is though.

On the other hand, those who didn't structure their lives around a future that didn't exist, those who lived for the day rather than tomorrow, those who followed their own desires and individuality, are more able to adapt to the unknown quantity presented in a new partner: I bet the farm on a lot of things and have ended up out of touch. This doesn't mean I have any regrets though since a lot of the things I did (or didn't do) were and are good for other reasons and have made me a better person regardless of how single I still happen to be. I do often wonder how different I'd be if I never had these considerations, but I like to think I'd very much be the same.

So what now? Well there's two main strategies I guess. I could either write off the investment and start afresh, this time basing my efforts to change around a particular individual who I actually, you know, like for who they are. Alternatively I could keep at it and search for that particular person who will appreciate all that I've worked to give her. Of course there's no guarantees such a girl exists, but then on the other hand without this framework I've no basis on which to actually determine whether or not I like someone; heck, I may even have to use those "feelings" things people keep telling me about to figure that out... Or perhaps I should just stick with looks.