How to Pick a Lover

Posts tagged ‘Birds of a Feather’

Lovers: Birds of a (Different) Feather

A man only understands what is akin to something already existing in himself.
—Frederic Amiel, Swiss Philosopher

One dimension of loving is the feeling that you understand the other person and that he understands you. The more completely you can feel that his actions are predictable and the sources of his emotions comprehensible, the more you can be tolerant of his behavior and appreciative of his actions. Whether or not you really understand him, and vice versa, is perhaps of secondary importance to the belief that you do.

Some men who would make exemplary lovers for some women may not be quite right for you either because you do not understand the issues which are of prime concern to them or because you do not understand the morality or lack of it which governs their behavior. They remain enigmas to you and may, therefore, be difficult or impossible to relate to satisfactorily.

You Just Don't Understand


Although similarly held worldviews can be important for compatibility, some differences are not all that critical. For instance, there is no need to pick a lover who is in the same profession as you are. In fact, there are a number of disadvantages when this occurs, not the least of which is the implicit problem of too direct competition. You can have good relationships with people in diverse fields as long as you have some understanding of what their work involves.

The more passionate you are about your work and the more passionate he is about his, the more important it is that you be in some way fellow travelers. This means that your fields of interests must at least be conterminous—that is, share some boundary where they touch on common ground. Anthropologists are like sociologists, singers are like musicians, chemists are like physicists, and salesmen of any product have a lot in common with all other salesmen. If there is, at least, some sharing of areas of interest, the work-focused conversation of one party has a chance of striking a spark of sympathy and comprehension in the other.

If a potential lover is in a totally different field, talking about your work will be like speaking Greek to a non-Greek and you must then make the uncomfortable choice between keeping silent or being alternately bored and boring. Of course, you can take the time to learn about your lover’s profession; but if he does not reciprocate by learning about yours, you are very likely to be resentful, which is hardly an auspicious foundation on which to build a relationship.

A lover of similar, if not identical, interests is of special importance when one of you is involved in a field of great passion such as religion or politics. If you meet a union organizer who is devoted to the cause and you think that an “agitator” is something in a washing machine, you are headed for trouble. Not only will you not appreciate his greatness and his accomplishments, such as they may be, but you will also be unwilling to recognize the legitimacy in his mind of the many occasions when his passion for the world and its concerns will take precedence over his passion for you.

If your lover is a man of the cloth or aspires to be one, then even if you do not share the same religion exactly, it is important that you, at least, share enough of the spiritual worldview to be sympathetic with matters of conscience and with such psychological dynamics as the inevitable crisis of faith. The happy heathen has no patience with such problems. From the start, you will find such men with their manifold doubts unfulfilling as lovers, no matter how passionate the Elmer Gantry part of them remains.

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