Thursday, June 22, 2006

One Life To Live

It seems to me that lives can be divided into large groups. The first are people who formulate a life plan early in life, stick to it, and by the time they reach their sixties, can look back at a life that was both coherent and what they intended. When these people become widowed or divorced, all they want is to carry on with the life plan they initially formulated, and that has now become a source of pride. Since they take pride in what they have accomplished they generally are accepting of their age. It is somewhat less terrifying to grow old. It is easier to see their future through their children and grandchildren.

Many have careers which are part of their core identity, not to speak of their livelihood. They tend to be somewhat rigid in the ability to adapt and fold into other lives. A psychotherapist who has an active practice that took years to develop, isn’t about to give it all up and move to Santa Fe. A businesswoman who has been a big cheese her whole life, isn’t about to become an assistant in somebody else’s life plan.

The other group also started with a life plan, earlier or later, but for some reason got derailed, leaving them nowhere. Here are some examples:
A man or woman thinks they will marry and have a family. They never found anyone, and it’s too late to have children.
A couple plan on having a large family, get divorced and there are no children.
A man or woman start a business, build it up, and then bust out mid-career.

One can go on and on in this morbid vein. Somewhere in life this group went down the wrong road, they ‘farblungit’, and they can’t find their way back. The point is there are a lot of people out there with broken life plans. Life didn’t turn out the way they thought. Some people get so depressed, they never come back. Some try to fight back and make up for lost time. Single people try to marry in their sixties, men and women try to adopt in their fifties, widows and divorcees try to recapture the time when life was fun. The problem is that they’re playing catch up. Catch- up people, place special burdens on their potential mates even when their counterpart is also playing catch up. Everyone has a different life trajectory, and matching catch-ups becomes quite difficult. One needs children, the other needs cruises. The problem with this group is not that their lives are too big to successfully find a companion or a spouse. Many of people in this group aren’t doing very much, and have plenty of the time. The problem here is they are trying to undo the first half of their life in ways that may not be age appropriate.

Young people have analogous problems. Adolescence these days, in non-religious circles, and maybe even religious circles, ends between 25 and 30 for men and around 22+ for women. Almost by definition an adolescent is someone who does not have a well-formed life plan. A big part of the difficulty in finding mates for people in their twenties is the mismatch between more mature girls and less mature guys. The guys don’t want to commit because they don’t know what they want to do, and in some instances they have no clear idea who they are, and the girls are clueless as to what is taking these guys so long to grow up. (There is a reason why the wedding announcements in the Sunday Times usually involve thirty somethings.) Here the problem is between people who have some sort of tentative life plan, and those who don’t.

All these four situations show up on the internet, people with fulfilled life plans, people with broken life plans, people with life plans yet to be fulfilled but in place, and people with no clue as to what their goals and ideals are going to be. Maybe they should have four separate dating sites for each category. Anyway, this is a major reason why these dating sites are not that successful.


At 10:30 AM, Blogger Pragmatician said...

It's not a bad idea, a dating site where one of the major criteria is automatically filled in.
The question is, who will be willing to admit they're in either of those stages?


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