Tuesday, October 31, 2006

rambling on and on

This comment got so wordy I figured I better make it a whole post…

The question is this: How important is it that you be intellectually/educationally matched with your partner?

Perhaps I infer too much, but I felt recent comments suggested that because I didn’t view intellectual or educational parity as an essential (ie, on a par with other qualities and types of compatibility), I was shallow or missing the boat (eg, “poor you”).

And just to declare my bias beforehand so you don’t have to waste time speculating about it: I had somewhat more education than Hannah; even more so compared to the woman I’m seeing now.

Anyway, here’s my take on the deal:

Like Stephanie (who sometimes wants to be called “Lisa”, I have no idea why), I tested really well in school. If tests are reliable indicators (debatable, yes), at one point at least, I was between 2 and 3 standard deviations from the mean in IQ. One way to interpret that data would be to infer that I was more intelligent than 95-99% of my age peers.

This leaves millions of people more intelligent than I am (I can hear my family and friends now: “Millions? More like billions…”)

But anyway, consider this:
In the US and Canada, there are something like 350,000,000 people. Let’s start filtering out that pool, shall we?
Let’s say half are women. 175M
Let’s say 20% are close enough in age: 35M
Let’s say 25% are physically compatible/attractive to me: 8.75M
Let’s make believe a third are available: 2.9M
And now let’s take the 5% who have the other qualities that are important to me. We’re down to 145,000 women on this continent. Are we really saying that I should now weed out the ones who didn't test on par with me or who don't have degrees? That would leave me to find one of 7,000 women out of 350,000,000. Yeah, I want to spend my time looking for one of those, when I already have one who has dozens of other qualities that I consider far more important.

When I was married to Hannah, there were some things missing in our marriage, but intellectual debate wasn’t one of them. Rather, it *was* missing, but I didn’t miss it. Hannah positively loathed debate about anything, but I’d have been perfectly happy with our life together if we never discussed Nietzsche or Dostoevsky or Chaos Theory for the rest of our lives. Believe me, I know what was missing; after 41 yrs of life and a failed marriage, give me credit for knowing what I want. If I want to debate, I'll call my brother, or go online.

Besides individual commitment and shared history, I think there are some core compatibility issues – temperament, attitude, shared priorities – that make a relationship last. Note that I’m not saying you have to be the *same* -- you just have to be compatible (ie, one person’s weaknesses or flaws or idiosyncrasies can’t be a huge deal to the other person.)

The things that impress me about who I’m with now are her kindness (towards me, and towards other people), her solid and realistic sense of self-worth, her zest for life, her love for her daughter. She prioritizes things that are also important to me: friendships and family relationships. She has an ability to look critically at herself, to laugh at herself, to accept her mistakes, to continue to learn and grow. I have learned a lot from her about being authentic, about being present in the moments of my life. I have learned from her how to be more honest with myself and with others about my feelings. She reminds me it’s not necessary to pretend to be perfect, nor to expect others to have the same standards I hold. She is positive and appreciative – of me, of little blessings and privileges, of life in general. She is sincere and verbal, and communicates well, in two languages.
Don’t get me wrong, she has faults like everyone else: she’s vain, she doesn’t plan very well, and she’s dramatically and predictably irritable every 28 days or so; her highs are high and her occasional lows are low. When it comes to personality traits like self-discipline, pride, honesty, being too opinionated, selfishness – she’s remarkably like me, which is to say imperfect, but improving.
But she’s fun, passionate, a fundamentally happy person, disciplined where it counts; she loves me enthusiastically, she’s gorgeous, and she cooks like a dream. She’s a great mom to her daughter, she’s patient and kind to my kids, and they like her a lot. She expresses love the same way I do: through touch and talking. She makes me very happy.

But apparently what I ought to do is ditch this relationship and spend my time looking for someone else who has all of the above plus is well-read and tested where I did in high school.
I’m reluctant to do that, which I guess could mean I’m shallow. But I don’t think so.


At Tue Oct 31, 03:49:00 PM PST, Blogger SoozeSchmooze said...

Gee...this reminds me of many conversations I have had with you in your early 20's...but the difference is you have grown...I would in no way class you as shallow (now)...you are a man who has learned what is important to you in life and what is not...not everyone has learned that...funny how life can teach us if we only learn and listen...not really sure how you have been moved to defend your position so solidly here but it has made for interesting reading!! Go get 'em Tiger...sounds like your friend is really good for you...that is important!!!!!!

At Tue Oct 31, 04:19:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is interesting the extent you are feeling you need to justify your choices. It's your life and your choices in every aspect of your life the written in the blog or the unwritten.

At Tue Oct 31, 05:54:00 PM PST, Blogger Left Coast Sister said...

I think it's a weird when there are concrete criteria that people are looking for or assuming they "should" have in a partner. I can't imagine ruling out a potential partner because he's not intellectually or educationally on par with me. However, if someone isn't an interesting person, his level of education of intelectual prowess is of no importance at all.

At Tue Oct 31, 07:01:00 PM PST, Blogger bryan torre said...

i agree that it's interesting/meaningful how i felt the need to defend my choice(s). i assume it's because we've had our share of naysayers about our relationship; this isn't the first time someone has questioned our suitability for one another.
anyway, when that happens we usually look at each other and shrug; this time for some reason i decided (for the first time) to respond...

At Tue Oct 31, 07:04:00 PM PST, Blogger bryan torre said...

and okay, nobody actually questioned anything here. i just took it that way when Helena said "Poor you", I guess...

BTW, the woman in question said the same thing to me: Why are you bothering to write all that, as if you have to defend yourself to strangers? :-)

At Tue Oct 31, 07:20:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked the part about debating. Who needs it? 'Can't we all just get along?'
I'm an old woman and have been married many years and I have found what really counts is courtesy and kindness to one another; that's what will be left long after the lust and beautiful bodies are gone; long gone....
p.s. I'm anonymous # 2

At Tue Oct 31, 08:04:00 PM PST, Blogger Kylee said...

I don't think so either. I don't think how well people test or how well-read they are make the match.....Its all about really getting to know a person and appreciating who they are...if you don't find that you can appreciate and respect them as a person then there will be problems. Gosh just enjoy it will ya!! We should all be so lucky!! Who cares what others think....if she makes you happy and is good to your kids..well then go with it!!

At Wed Nov 01, 12:12:00 AM PST, Anonymous Helena said...

Okay now I have to respond since you are feeling defensive to my sarcastic "Poor you." Isn't it fun to have lots of comments not
always in agreement and all supportive with everything you write even though they are strangers. It seems as though a blog is a fairly public forum and that is what makes them so unique unlike your private journal.

At Wed Nov 01, 07:48:00 PM PST, Blogger Always Smiling said...

Sometimes I think we complicate life too much.

It's simple - you have to make you happy. If someone makes you happy you have to go for it.


There are no score cards - or hurdles potential mates must jump over.

if you're happy..if you can make her happy..enjoy the time.

At Wed Nov 01, 08:51:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Bryan. I just wish you happiness, wherever and however you find it. I like what you said about appreciation. I think it is the most overlooked quality that has the most important impact on a relationship.

At Fri Nov 03, 12:08:00 AM PST, Blogger Erik said...

so from what i gather, you're saying that both parties must have identical levels of education, and that's the most important thing.

no, i'm just fooling about. this was an interesting post, and i enjoyed reading it. also, it feels like i haven't been on the interweb for about 2 years now, so i will now read some of your other posts.

p.s. when i'm starting to date anyone new, i just give them a vocab quiz right off. if they're really hot, i give them words like "cat" and "tree", to make sure they pass.

At Sat Nov 04, 01:07:00 PM PST, Anonymous si said...

my 1st response to this post was that i DID it this time -- i really p*ssed you off (or at least i was one of them). i thot, especially since i know you IRL, i crossed the line. and w/all of the other not-so-good things happening in my life right now, i couldn't deal with trying to respond. but since you've so kindly LMK i haven't crossed you or “the line” (tho, you have to admit this post sounds like i was right there...), i'll “defend” my original comment: it was meant *generally* not *specifically* ‘coz i thot you were speaking in generalities when you listed your preferences. and i hoped that you would *generally* consider the EITHER in addition to the OR...

now *specifically*, i've met your lady and would never suggest that you need to try to find something “better/deeper”. i like __ (don't know what her blog name will be) -- she is very sweet and nice and caring, along with being beautiful, vivacious, and hot(!). i'm glad you're happy w/her. that's what i want for you -- happiness.


Post a Comment

<< Home