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The common-sense explanation for long-term singlehood directs the blame firmly outwards,
it isolates the problem to one of mechanics: one is still single because one hasn't,
perhaps on account of having moved to a vast and anonymous new city, been invited to enough
parties, or because the constant requirement to fly to the Singapore office leaves no time
for the right sort of socializing, or because one is holed up in a remote village high in
the mountains connected to the more densely populated lowlands only by an irregular bus
service. These may be solid enough reasons, but when the problem of singlehood persist over an extended
period, their power to explain our situation weakens. Without anything remotely persecutory
or unkind being intended by this, one is forced to cast around for psychological rather than
procedural explanations. The problem must lie in our minds rather than in the world.
And in the recesses of these minds, two issues
– diametrical yet complimentary – can often be identified: one is suffering from
an excess of self-hatred. Or from an excess of self-love. Self-hatred is the more poignant of the pair.
On being approached by someone, however initially attractive and competent
they might be, we begin to wonder why they should be so naive, so desperate, and so weak
as to be drawn to someone like us. When we are inadequately convinced of our own likeability,
the attentions of another person must forever seem illegitimate and peculiar, and reflect
poorly on their donor. Love feels like a gift we haven't earned, don't deserve – and
must therefore take care eventually to throw away. We might, under the pressure of self-hatred,
accuse our admirer of naivety. The only possible reason they can have to approve of us is that
they are poor judges of character. That is why they have missed all the more disturbed
and darker aspects of us. They like us only because they are blind – and therefore a little stupid.
However, because they are bound to spot their error eventually, it is surely
wiser to run away before we are exposed and abandoned. We end up alone because, despite
our longing for affection, we don't in essence feel there are any good and lasting reasons
why anyone would properly see us and like us. We may also, in the face of the gifts,
text messages or hugs we receive, start to feel that our admirer is, to a sickening degree needy.
We feel repulsed by their need when we don't see ourselves as appropriate targets of anyone's need;
we reject their nascent dependence because somewhere inside,
we are sure that we are not people to depend upon. And yet, of course, none of these spectres
need to be real in the world outside our touchingly troubled minds. The person who is keen on
us is almost certainly not naive. They can no doubt see us for what we are: they have
noticed many of our less admirable sides. It is just that they don't consider these fatal,
because they know that being not quite right is what all of us are and is no barrier to a mature relationship.
They know we're not exactly who we think we should be, but
they also grasp that this doesn't place anyone in the category of the damned. We might
be a bit perverted, a little silly and not as nice as we make out – but so is everyone else.
It's not that they are naive about us; we're ultimately naive about them.
They know that every human has shadow sides. They've made peace with theirs (probably as a result
of a fortunate childhood); they would like us to make peace with ours.
Ahead of us, they understand that a person can be ordinarily imperfect – and worthy of being cherished.
Then, at the other end of the spectrum, comes excessive self-love,
which really means a hesitation around fully acknowledging what a challenging proposition one is
and therefore how much we should rightly be grateful for when someone, anyone with an ordinary share of strengths and weaknesses, looks our way.
Perhaps because of the legacy of doting and forgivably biased parents, we are operating with an unhelpful sense of how
lucky someone might be to end up in our arms. After having been alone for a long time, we
may also have lost the knack of spotting what peculiar, demanding and compulsive people we are.
With no one to hold up a mirror, we have forgotten to give due weight to the rage,
the anxiety and the moments of vindictiveness inside us. At the same time, we are travelling the world
with our imaginations switched off, imagination defined here as the capacity to look with
energy, compassion and curiosity into the face and character of another person
in order to search out what might be desirable and good therein.
What happens when we look without imagination?
Well we meet someone who is quite nice, but their nose is too big... "erm, no".
Or they are an Engineer, Engineers are unsophisticated. "No".
Maybe they are rich? "Rich people are snobs, no."
Perhaps the hair is thining, "bald people aren't our thing. no." or they have a strong accent? "no".
Imagination means sensitivity to the less obvious things; with imagination one scans past the surface
and wonders about what might be worthy inside a fellow human, whom it would – of course
– always be so easy (yet ultimately so unrewarding) to criticise.
What happens when we look with imagination? We meet someone, they look conventional and
formal but we think they could turn out to have playful and wild sides too.
Or they look mousy but also maybe they are very witty around people they know well.
Or they do have a slightly wonky nose but their eyes are very tender and their lips suprisingly sensual.
Or they do have a job that sounds unimpressive but their interests are very broad and they might be the ideal person to go around an antiques market with.
To awaken the dormant faculty of the imagination,
we might more regularly – perhaps in the street or on the train to work – look at
the faces around us, especially the less distinguished or obviously sculpted ones, and ask ourselves
what there could be to delight in. There is always going to be something, for we were
all once love-worthy children and remain as much in our depths.
Take an experiment. if you were forced to love one of these candidates, choose your favourite gender. What might there be to fall in love with?
Practising imagination is not a compromise, it is the key to love, for we all have to
be considered imaginatively in order to be tolerated and forgiven over the long term
by anyone. By thinking imaginatively, we're not being disloyal to the true ambition of
love; we're stumbling on the essence of what love rightly has to involve.
There will always be some practical reasons why it proves hard to find a partner. But if we have worked
on our levels of self-love and attenuated the ravages of self-hatred, an absence of
parties or a difficult bus ride to the next town need never condemn us long-term to a
life devoid of tenderness and connection. To learn more about Love, try our book on
How to Find Love, which explains why we have the 'types' we do, and how our early experiences
shape how and whom we love


為什麼還魯魯的?揭秘我們為何還是單身!(Two Reasons Why We're Still Single)

5617 分類 收藏
Evangeline 發佈於 2018 年 11 月 1 日    B.Y.l 翻譯    Evangeline 審核
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