The ideal Partner:
1. Kindness: a partner who is gentle with our imperfections and can good-humouredly tolerate us as we are.
2. Shared vulnerability: someone with whom we can be open about our anxieties, worries and the problems that throw us off balance: someone we don’t have to put on a good front for; someone around whom we can be weak, vulnerable and honest – and who will be the same around us.
3. Understanding: someone who is interested in, and can make sense of, certain obscure features of our minds: our obsessions, preoccupations and ways of seeing the world. And whom we are excited to understand in turn
Why we fall in love with certain people: completion, endorsement, familiarity:
- Completion: We must then be willing to learn and the person willing to teach.
- Endorsement: We then sulk when our partners fail to read our minds.
Somewhere in the pat , a child had to be perfect in order to deserve affection. The child become outwardly good and inwardly ashamed and lonely. We need to move towards a more humane and mature model of complex love; a love that tolerates imperfection and ambivalence, that accepts that we can have fault and love ourselves and can see the faults of the other person while loving them.
Understanding what we like in a person - what gives us pleasure - is therefore a central anti-fixation move. What we really love isn’t this specific creature, but a range of qualities we located in them first, normally because they were the most conspicuous examples of a repository for them. We can also identify the qualities that are also available in other lovers too.
The need to seduce prospective lovers into our beds and lives is fraught with dangers of humiliation. But how afraid, we are of humiliation depends on one thing in particular: how attached we are to our own dignity.
Whatever we choose will be a bit wrong, so we shouldn’t agonise too much about any single choice that we make. The real skill is not always to strive to not make better choices; it is to know how to make peace with our necessarily bad choices. They are inviting us to be modest in our expectations of relationships, not to make us unhappy, but in order to help us make our peace with the only thing that is actually on offer: a radically imperfect but genuine love for anther flawed person and a necessarily troubled but still valuable shared life beside them.
Realism about ourselves: We are demanding, but not good at explaining why certain things are so important to us; we have a tendency to scold rather than to gently teach; we get worked up about things that other people don’t care about ( but don’t seem to notice their boredom)