2023-02-22 allowing relationships to emerge organically

This is my first day trying a semi-public writing habit.

I want to write about love, but it feels kinda vulnerable. I can always turn it to the third person, invoke the royal “we”, and keep the spotlight off myself.

Commitment is hard for maximizers. Unfortunately, that describes most of my generation.

Maximizers understand that great choices come not from making the best choice between A and B, but rather by expanding our options to include C, D, and E.

Applying this mindset to relationships is disastrous.

There’s a happy medium here. Yes, it is important to expand your optionality, to an extent. But at some point it’s important to commit. Therein lies the challenge, for the maximizer.

Commitment is a process. Relationships deepen through a gradually escalating set of sacrifices for each other. This is just one simplified model, obviously there are other things at play. But these trades are increasingly convincing proof that your counterpart will be there for you when you need them, and that it is safe to depend on them.

I’m thinking of the Arizona woman who volunteered to carry her infertile friends’ babies for her. Before that point, the two considered themselves friends and had gone on a weekend trips together. Then, after one learned of the others’ difficulty conceiving, she volunteered her body. After such an incredible sacrifice, the two consider each other family, and spend most of their time together, and with their quadruplets. IVF is a helluva drug.

How do you decide when to commit to someone? My standard toolkit, instrumental reason, is terrible for this situation. The deep ickiness that people feel about applying rationality to relationships is, like so many other intuitions, adaptive. They fear that as soon as someone more valuable comes along, that you’ll move on from your relationship. They fear a lack of loyalty implied by the spreadsheet approach.

I think it makes sense to fill your top of funnel with a rationalist strategy, and then let romance guide you from there. Find a broader community that’s well-curated, be open to connection, and then commit to the people that make you feel good, without overanalyzing it. Let your little group of best friends emerge organically from a large, chaotic, well-curated mixing pot of people. This is what happens in most communities with an application process, assuming that they allow space for key prerequisities to strong relationships, like authenticity (which excludes most professional and startup communities). This is also what happens in college.

This is the best of both worlds.