We’re desperate to avoid it of course, but we won’t, for a lot of very good reasons: We don’t understand ourselves We’re all crazy in very particular ways: neurotic, unbalanced and immature… But we don’t know the details, because no one encourages us too hard to find out. Our friends just want to be kind and have fun with us. Our enemies don’t want to waste the trouble. So we end up with such a poor level of self-understanding, we have no clue who we’d be compatible with. A standard question on any early dinner date should simply be: ‘how are you mad?’ But it’s so hard to know… Secondly, we don’t understand other people It’s as hard to work out the craziness of other people as it is our own, they put on such a good show – at first. What we’d ideally need is to send them and us through a battery of psychological questionnaires and have four years of intensive psychotherapy, individual and couples’ based – before reaching a decision. By 2100, this will no longer sound like a joke – people will merely wonder why took humanity so long to get us here. We aren’t used to being happy We think we want happiness, but what we really want is what we’re used to – and that usually doesn’t involve too much happiness at all. Growing up, most of us had our love mixed in with other, darker stuff: being controlled, feeling humiliated, being abandonned or abused. In short, suffering. And now, whatever we may say, that’s what we’re mostly still on the look out for. It explains why we rejected all those candidates, the well-balanced, mature reliable ones, as somehow a bit ‘boring’. – and why we head instead with secret energy to those characters we unconsciously know will mess us up in such cosily familiar ways. Being single is so awful You have to be very at peace with empty Saturday evenings, constant alienation and sexlessness in order to be choosy in the right way. No wonder most of us half shut our eyes and grab what’s there. Instinct has too much prestige Marriage used to be a rational business; all to do with your parents matching their bit of land with the neighbours’. It was horribly cold and calculating. So now we have romantic marriages. It’s meant to be all about how you feel. You should never think too much. To analyse the decision immediately feels ‘un-Romantic’. Indeed, the most Romantic thing to do may just be to propose really suddenly, perhaps after only a few weeks – in a chapel in Vegas at 3am… The madness seems a paradoxical sign that the marriage itself will be a sensible idea. It won’t be. We don’t go to Schools of Love We don’t have any information. We don’t take classes, we don’t talk to married couples and steer very clear of divorced ones. So we go into it without knowing why marriages really fail – beyond what we take to be just the simple stupidity of all those other couples we’re not like at all. Freezing happiness You want to make nice things permanent: you’re in Venice, on the lagoon, with no responsibilities, the evening sun throwing gold flakes across the sea, the prospect of dinner in a little fish restaurant and your beloved in a cashmere jumper in your arms… You get married to make that feeling permanent. But it all goes and what is really permanent is the partner – but now in a very different mood. You want to stop thinking about Love It’s such a pain: the heartache, the dating, the one night stands… You want shot of it all. You marry to stop having to think about love all the time. All of which is why you’ll marry the wrong person – or perhaps have done so already. But it’s not really your fault. No one ever teaches us how to do this thing, and so of course we crash. We will, as a species, eventually learn. The careless madness can’t go on. Too many people get hurt. In a few centuries at least, we’ll be getting the hang of it – for sure.