Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person – Free Ebook

I’ve been asked to talk to you today about an essay that I wrote for the New York Times last year which went under a rather dramatic heading it was called why you will marry the wrong person and perhaps we could just a begin were among friends by just asking how many of you in the room do feel on balance that you have married the wrong person I mean we’re my friends I mean yeah lady that couple covered me let 510 I’d say 30 people in the room and and so we always have to triple that so there’s a pretty hefty majority but I’m here to give counsel and to give consolation for this situation you know there’s a lot of anger around our love lives privately held but a lot of us go around feeling quite enraged angry privately about the way that our love lives have gone my task today is to turn that anger into sadness if we if we manage to turn rage into grief we will have made psychological progress and this is that the task today what lies behind rage very often is an unusual quality because we tend to think that very angry people are sort of dark and pessimistic characters absolutely not scratch the surface of any regularly angry person and you will find a wild optimist it is in fact hope that drives rage think of a person who screams every time they can’t find their house keys or every time they get stuck in traffic these unfortunate characters are Vinci a curious but reckless faith in a world in which keys never go astray the roads are mysteriously traffic free it is hope that it’s turbocharging their rage so if we’re to get a little bit less sad and as a little less angry about our love lives we will have to diminish some of our folks it’s very hard to diminish hope around love because there are vast industries designed to inflate our expectations of love there was wonderful quote from the German philosopher Theodor Adorno who in the 1960s said that the most dangerous man in erica was Walt Disney and the reason for his attack on Walt was because he believed that Walt was the prime agent of hope and therefore of rage and therefore of bitterness and he thought that it was the task of philosophy to let us down gently which is what I’m going to be at doing today so remember the theme of the talk why you will marry the wrong person there are a number of reasons why this is going to happen to you or has maybe already in the privacy of your heart happen to you I should say that it’s not that bad and the reason is that all of us will not manage to find the right person but we will probably all of us manage to find a good enough person so and that’s success as you will come to see what is one of the reasons why we’re not going to be able to pull this one off as successfully as we might have hoped at the early the outset of our upper teenage perd when we were contemplating love is that we are very strange I’m very strange and you’re very strange you don’t let on and you know we’re not going to do anything very dangerous but we are basically psychologically quite strange we don’t normally know very much about this strangeness it takes us a long time before we’re really on top of the way in which we are hard to live with there’s anyone in this room think that they’re quite easy to live with on balance yeah oh my goodness okay I don’t want to be rude but please come and see me offered I know I know that you’re not easy to live with and the reason is that you’re a homo sapiens and therefore you are not easy to live with no one is and but there’s a there’s a wall of silence that surrounds us from a deeper acquaintance with what is actually so difficult about us our friends don’t want to tell us why would they bother they just want to pleasant evening out they’re not our friends know more about us and more about our floors probably after a ten minutes acquaintance a stranger will know more about your floors then you might learn over 40 years of life on the planet our capacity to ensure it what is wrong with us is very weak our parents don’t tell us very much why would they they love us too much they know they can see of course I mean they followed us from the crib they know what’s wrong with us they’re not going to tell us because they they just want to this week at our ex-lovers a vital source of knowledge they know apps lutely they know but you’re in that speech that they gave it was it was moving at the time when they said that they wanted a little more space and were attracted to travel and we’re interested in the culture of Southeast Asia nonsense they thought lots of things are wrong with you but they weren’t going to bother to tell you they were just off out of there why would they bother so there’s knowledge that is out there is not in you it’s out there but it’s not in you and so therefore we progress through the world with a very low sense of what is actually wrong with us not least all of us addicts almost all of us are addicts not injecting heroin as such but addicts in the sense we need to redefine what addiction is I like to define addiction not in terms of the substance you’re taking in other words I’m heroin addict I’m a cocaine addict no addiction is basically any pattern of behavior whereby you cannot stand to be with yourself and certain of the more uncomfortable thoughts and more importantly emotions that come from being on your own and so therefore you can be addicted to almost anything so long as it keeps you away from yourself so it was it keeps you away from tricky self-knowledge and most of us are addicts and thanks to all sorts of technologies and distractions etc we can have a good life where we will almost certainly be guaranteed not to spend any time with ourselves except maybe for certain kind of airlines that still don’t have the gadgets the distractors but otherwise you can be guaranteed you don’t have to talk to yourself and this is a disaster for your capacity to have a relationship with another person because until you know yourself you can’t properly relate to another person one of the reasons why love is so tricky for us is that it requires us to do something we really don’t want to do which is to approach another human being and say I need you I wouldn’t really survive without you I’m vulnerable before you and there’s a very strong impulse in all of us to be strong and to be well defended and not to reveal our vulnerability to another person psycho psychologists talk of two patterns of response that tend to crop up in people whenever there’s a danger of needing to be extremely vulnerable dangerously vulnerable and exposed to another person the first response is to get what what psychologists call anxiously attached attachment theory some of you may know so when you are anxiously attached to somebody rather than saying I need you I depend on you you start to get very procedural you say you’re ten minutes late or I think the bin bags need to be taken out or you start to get strict when actually what you want to do is to ask a very poignant question do you still care about me but we don’t dare to ask that question so instead we get nasty we get stiff we get procedural the other thing the other pattern of behavior which psychologists have identified and it tends to apply to people who are in this room in other words a types very outgoing types strivers you become in relationships tell me if I’m wrong you become what is known as avoidant which means that when you when you need someone it’s precisely at that moment you pretend you don’t when you feel most vulnerable you say I’m quite busy at the moment I’m fine thanks I’m well busy today in other words you don’t reveal the need for another person which sets them off into a chain of wandering whether you are to be trusted and there’s been a cycle of low trust so we get into these patterns of not daring to do the thing that we really need to do which is to say even though I’m a growing person maybe I’ve got a beard maybe I’ve been alive for a long time I’m 6 foot 2 etc I’m actually a small child inside and I need you like a small child would need its parent this is so humbling that most of us refuse to make that step and therefore refuse the challenge of of love um in short we don’t know very much how to love we and it sounds very odd because actually somebody said you look all of us probably in this room would probably need to go to a school of love we do what a school of love love is just an instinct no it’s not it’s a skill and it’s a skill that needs to be learned and it’s a skill that our society refuses to consider as a skill we are meant to always just follow our feelings if you keep following your feelings you will almost certainly make a big mistake in your life what is love ultimately love I believe is something personal there’s a distinction between loving and being loved we all start off in life by knowing a lot about being loved being loved is the fun bit that’s when somebody brings you something on a tray and ask you how your day at school went etcetera and we grow up thinking that that is what’s going to happen in an adult relationship we can be forgiven for that it’s an understandable mistake but it’s a very tragic mistake and it leads us not to pay attention to the other side of the equation which is to love and what does it really mean to love – love ultimately is to have the willingness to interpret someone’s on the surface not very appealing behavior in order to find more benevolent reasons why it may be unfolding in other words to love someone is to apply charity and generosity of interpretation most of us are in dire need of love because actually we need to be we need to have some slack cut for us because our behavior is often so tricky that if we don’t do this we wouldn’t get through any kind of relationship but we’re not used to thinking that that is the core of what love is core of what love is is the willingness to interpret another’s behavior what we tend to be very bad at is recognizing that anyone that we can love is going to be a perplexing mixture of the good and the bad there’s a wonderful psychoanalysts called Melanie Klein who was active in the 50s and 60s recently from Vienna active in North London studying how children learned about relationships from the parental situation and she came up with a very fascinating analysis she argued that when children are small very small they don’t really realize that a parent is one character they actually do what she calls split a parent into a good parent and a bad parent and so this is when a baby is in a really an infant stage so what you do is you split into the good mother or and the bad mother and it takes a long long time Melanie I thought it might be until you’re four until you actually realize that the good and the bad mother are one person and you become ambivalent in other words you become able to hate someone and really go off them and at the same time also loved them and you’re able not to run away from that situation you’re able to say I love someone and hate them and that’s okay and Melanie Klein thought this is an immense psychological achievement when we can no longer merely divide people into absolutely brilliant perfect what marvelous and hateful let me down disappointed me everyone who we love is going to disappoint as we start off with idealization and we end up often with denigration the person goes from being absolutely marvelous to be absolutely terrible maturity is the ability to see that there are no heroes really among human beings that all of us and this wonderfully perplexing mixture of the good and the bad and adulthood true psychological maturity and may need to be 65 before it hits you I’m not there yet is the capacity to realize that anyone that you love is going to be this mixture of the good and the bad so love is not just admiration for strength it is also tolerance for weakness and recognition of ambivalence and the reason why we’re going to probably make some real mistakes when we choose our love partners some of you in this room have made some stunning mistakes now why is this the reason is that we’ve been told that the way to find a good partner is to follow your instinct right follow your heart that’s the mantra and so we’re all the time reminded that if we stop reasoning analyzing other people in this room who think that you can think too much about your emotions and that sort of you people get yeah you can think too much a few people okay you can’t think too much you can only ever think badly but there’s no such thing as thinking too much about emotions but the problem is we live in a romantic culture that privileges impulse and when it comes to love something tricky occurs because you don’t have to be a paid-up believer in psychotherapy of psychoanalysis to realize that the way we love as adults sits on top of our early childhood experiences and in early childhood the way that we learnt about love was not just via experiences of tenderness and kindness and generosity the love that we will have tasted as children will also be bound up with experiences of being let down being humiliated maybe being with a parent who treated us very harshly who scolded us who made us feel small in some way in other words quite a lot about our early experiences of love a bound up with various kinds of suffering now something quite bad happens when we start to go out into the adult world and start to choose loved partners we think we’re out to find partners who will make us happy but we’re not we’re out to find partners who will feel familiar and that may be a very different thing because familiarity may be bound up with particular kinds of torture this explains why sometimes people will say to us there’s a wonderful person you should go and date them they’re good-looking that charming there are all sorts of things and we go out with them when we need them and we recognize that they’re really wonderful and amazing but we have to confess to our partners to our friends that actually we found this person often we struggle with the vocabulary we say maybe not that exciting or maybe not sexy or a bit boring really what we mean is that we’ve detected in this really quite accomplished person someone who will not be able to make a suffer in the way that we need to suffer in order to feel that love is real and that’s why we reject them so we are not merely on a quest to be happy we are on a quest to suffer in ways that feel familiar and this radically undermines our capacity to find a good part here’s another reason why we’re going to come unstuck in the field of love we tend to believe that the more a lover is right for us the less we’re going to have to explain about who we are how we feel what upsets us what we want we believe rather as a young child the leave of its parent that a true lover will guess what is in our minds one of the great errors that human beings make it’s permanently to feel that other people know what’s in their minds without us having said what’s in our minds it’s very cumbersome to use words it’s such a bore and when it comes to love we have this deep desire that will simply be understood wordlessly it’s touching it’s a beautiful romantic idea but it also leads to a catastrophic outbreak of sulking and what is sulking sulking is an interesting phenomenon we don’t just salt with anyone we sulk with people who we feel should understand us and yet for some reason had decided not to and that’s why we tend to reserve our sulks for people who we love and who we think love us and they tell us something you know they unwittingly will trigger a negative reaction in us and we’ll sulk and they’ll say what’s wrong with you darling and we’ll say nothing and they’ll say but come on you’re upset and we’ll go no I’m not I’m absolutely fine and it’s not true and we’ll go upstairs and we’ll shut the door and we won’t tell them what’s wrong with us and then they’ll knock at the door and that’s it please just tell me and we’ll say no because we want them to read our souls because we expect that a true lover can understand what we feel and who we are without us speaking this is a catastrophe for our capacity to form lasting relationships if you do not explain you can never be understood the route to a good marriage and to good love is the ability to become a good teacher now teaching sounds like a narrow profession those guys in tweed jackets and fussy with it with a chalkboard etc I’m not talking about that kind of teaching all of us whatever our job aspirations whatever it is we do have to become teachers now teaching is merely the word that we give to the skill of getting an idea from one head into another in a way that it’s likely to be accepted and most of us are appalling teachers most of us teach when we’re tired when we’re frightened what are we frightened of with frightened we’ve married an idiot and because we’re so frightened we start screaming at them you’ve got to understand and the thing is that unfortunately by the time you’ve started to humiliate the person you want to understand something less and over you will never get anyone to understand what you want them to understand so long as you make them feel small in order to teach well you need to be relaxed you need to accept that maybe your partner won’t understand and also you need a culture within a couple that two people are going to need to teach each other and therefore also learn from one another and this country’s me to the next person while you’re going to have a very unhappy relationship probably and that is because you probably believe that when somebody tries to tell you something about yourself that’s a little ticklish and a little uncomfortable they are attacking you they’re not they’re trying to make you into a better person and we don’t tend to believe that this has a role in love we tend to believe that true love means accepting the whole of us it doesn’t no one should accept the whole of us we’re appalling really one of the whole of you accepted no that’s not love that the full display of our characters the full articulation of who we are should not be something that we do in front of anyone that we care about so what we need to do is is to accept that the other person is going to want to educate us and that it isn’t a criticism criticism is merely the wrong word that we apply to a much Noble idea which is to try and make us into better versions of ourselves but we tend to reject this idea very strongly is there any hope of course there’s hope look I mentioned the word good enough it’s a phrase taken from a wonderful English psychoanalyst called Donald Winnicott he had a lot of parents who would come to him and say things like I’m so worried I’m not a good parent my child has this problem or that problem etc and he came up with a wonderful phrase he said you are most likely to be a good enough parent and he relief from our otherwise punishing perfectionism the good thing is that none of us are perfect and therefore we don’t need perfection and the demand for perfection will lead you to only one thing loneliness you cannot have perfection and company to be in company with another person is to be negotiating imperfection every day in compatibility we are all incompatible but it is the work of love to make us graciously accommodate each other and ourselves to each other’s incompatibilities and therefore compatibility is an achievement of love it isn’t what you need from the outset of course you’re not going to be totally compatible that’s not the point it is through love that you gradually accept the need to be compatible um we probably can’t change our types right so all of us a problem many of us are have got types who are going to cause us real problems they may be too distant there may be arrogant they’re going to torture us in some way now friends casually say to us chuck them get out the relationship etc right no I don’t you know we’re realist here at Google and I’m giving you realistic advice you’re not going to manage to change your type let’s get that for granted what you can do and this is a big achievement is to change how you characteristically respond to your tricky type most of us have formed the way that we respond to tricky types in early childhood so we had a distant parent with mattres and a distant lover when we were very young we responded to that distant parent by attention-seeking we rattled and banged an our adult we Rachlin bang in our own way and we think that’s going to help it doesn’t it create a cycle that’s going to be a vicious cycle it’s not going to get us anywhere it is open to us at any time to have a more mature response to the challenges that the types of people were attracted to are going to pose for us and that is an immense step forward and immense a um the other thing we should do is recognize the nobility of compromise what are the most shameful things to ever have to admit is to say this is my partner I’ve compromised in choosing them I’ve compromised oh why have you compromised well I’m not that attractive myself I’ve got lots of problems I’m a bit nutty frankly I couldn’t pull anyone better but they’re very nice okay now you would think loser it’s not true compromise is Noble we compromise in every area of life there’s no reason why we shouldn’t compromise in our love life maybe we’re sticking around for the children good it was a hoe they’re only sticking around for the children that’s a wonderful reason to stick around why aren’t you gonna stick around okay so let’s look a bit more benevolently at the art of compromise it’s a massive achievement in love I’m going to end with with a quote from one of my favorite philosophers Danish nineteenth-century very gloomy philosopher called Kierkegaard and Kierkegaard in his book either all had a wonderful outburst what he basically said of course you’re going to marry the wrong person and make the wrong decisions in a whole row of areas and the reason you’re going to do this is that you’re human therefore do not berate yourself for doing what humans do this is what he says marry and you will regret it don’t marry you will also regret it marry or don’t marry you will get it either way laughs of the world’s foolishness you’ll regret it weep over it you’ll regret that to laugh at the world’s foolishness all weep over it you will regret both hang yourself you will regret it don’t hang yourself you will regret that to hang yourself or don’t hang yourself you’re regretted either way whether you hang yourself or don’t hang yourself you will regret both this gentleman is the essence of all philosophy thank you very much [Applause] [Music] we publish new thought-provoking films every week be sure to subscribe to our Channel and take a look at more of what we have to offer at the link on your screen now

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