I’m not sure if there is anyone that each one of us does not have a lot in common with. Think about that declarative statement for a second and if you have serious doubts as to it’s credibility you’re probably not looking at it the right way. Consider this: if you’re one of three hundred million people who live in the United States then you have one thing in common with someone else that you’re likely to meet. Live in a house or rent an apartment? There’s something else that you have in common. Do you use paper currency for most fiscal transactions? Put another check next to that box. The list goes on and on and on again. The phrase: “there’s more that unites us than divides us” is incorrect because of the assumptions that it makes philosophically. If you believe that the world can only get better if your side wins and my side loses than there is nothing that unites us in your view and conversely, if I believe that we are only as strong as the sum of our parts and you refuse to be recognized as a part of things then we really don’t have anything in common at all.
I don’t bring this up to talk about politics, though an interesting discussion could be had in that area as well. I bring up this issue because I talk to people every day that insist that they’re a lot like me and that “perhaps we should get to know each other.” I don’t know what logic people use to come to that assessment, but it’s faulty logic. Your perception of the world is one where people like me can be seen as the good guys, fair enough. But what kind of assumption do you have to make to believe that I feel the same way about you? You haven’t even asked me what I think about you. How can we even begin to think alike or be alike if we haven’t so much as had a conversation about something other than your baseline idea of what the world looks like with me in it? I understand how this can come across as condescending, but so does the idea that the world is somehow better off if we identify the good guys and the bad guys. I think we’d all be better off if we avoided labels and let people come to their own judgment about people, but what do I know? I know only as much as your mind has allowed you to judge about me.
The idea of mutually shared beliefs and ideas is incredibly important in the world of dating, a subject that I posted about a week ago. I don’t think that dating is easier for some people than others nor do I believe that other people are more “lucky” than other people when it comes to the dating world, I believe that some people are more willing to settle for certain things than other people are. Take me for example. My standards are incredibly high because I know what a pain I am to deal with. If you are going to so much as be around me you need to have a certain threshold for my behavior and you’re going to have to love the same parts about myself that I love about myself. We could share the same value systems and everything else for that matter, but if we value things in other people that aren’t consistent with what we value in our partner it’s all for naught. If you don’t think that my brains and comedic wit are the sexiest things about me then you’re not an ideal match for me. We could go on about how we make up for these differences with other things, but the lack of primacy in our central values (i.e. what we “like” about another person) makes everything else irrelevant.
On a certain level you just have to want to be with someone else and I think that’s why a lot of introverted people have difficulty dating. I understand that plight because I am an introverted person, but that does not mean that I always get along with introverted people or that all introverted people should unite to make the dating game easier for us or anything like that. I think that as soon as you attach the labels you’re making things harder on yourself. Allow yourself to think outside the box, understand what makes someone else tick, understand what motivates them and what they’re capable of and then you’ll be on the road to getting somewhere worth going. But attach your hopes and your ideals to another person you barely know? That’s not a good idea no matter how you look at it. You shouldn’t go to Wal-Mart and say: “hey this person is in the electronics department, we both have something in common.” You should question why that person is there and what they’re trying to get from their experience. Understanding intent is as important if not more important than shared values, goals or other measures. You’ve got to not only understand, but love all the little things that make that other person click. Above all you need to play to each other’s strengths. You’ve got to love the part about the person you’re dating as much as he/she does. You need to understand what is most important to them and share that belief totally and unequivocally.
If there’s something more frightening than being single, I’ve yet to see it or experience it. It makes you believe that you’re incapable of loving someone else unconditionally unless there are strings attached to the deal and that’s not something that anyone would want to or should want to believe about themselves. What’s more is that in most cases this simply isn’t true. Who we are, what we do, and what we value most, above all else, is what drives us to care for another human being. Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Love is understanding someone else and accepting the fact that they will never be the person that you want them to be. You’ve got to want to be with that person and that person only for most of your time, most days, and you’ve got to love them for the same reason they love themselves. Most relationships fail because of errors in communication, fidelity, or understanding what is most important to that significant other. All of this can be avoided if we simply allow our insecurities to play a proper role in the relationship and understand others as we understand ourselves. It doesn’t sound that difficult, but a lifetime of experience has shown me that it’s next to impossible to achieve. True love is accepting someone for who they are and not for who you want them to be.