Just a few days back, I was reminded of a very interesting book that I came across in my high school. Actually, I never got a chance to read it or catch any reviews about it but I found the title pretty interesting, it was:

Of course I love you! (Till I find someone better…)

Obstensibly, this idea seems to be laced with opportunistic infidelity but if you really think about it from a rational angle, it can unravel a lot about our understanding of human affection and attraction. In fact, we can promptly come up with some very important questions:

  • Is love a mere mechanical comparison? If yes, why don’t we always go for the clear best choice?
  • Will there be an end to this pursuit of finding a better lover?
  • If we can get better are we always bound to find our perfect love?

As we will proceed further and try to find answers to the above questions, you will realize why they often remark that “Love is a messy affair!

The choice

An individual’s personality is a combination of a lot of conscious and subconscious elements and interestingly they don’t need to know about them before they judge a person according to them.
For instance, you might see someone and just feel instantly drawn towards them or fall for a person (who seemed pretty average initially) over time.
If you think about both these cases, you would probably ascribe your attraction to some tangible qualities like “Oh! He is very caring and attentive to my needs.” or “Damn! She is very pretty, I couldn’t take my eyes off her.
All of it is okay but do you think that is all?

Since we are surrounded by a lot of potential options, we internally generate a set of attributes that feel desirable and another set of attributes that are absolutely repugnant. These attributes help us to reduce our sample space so that we can focus on striking deeper relationships with a selected pool because of the shortage of time or patience.
Often, we can only select a handful of these attributes and the rest of them lies beyond our conscious control. This is the reason why, if asked about the reason for their inclination towards a particular person, most of the individuals don’t seem to figure out a concrete and convincing line of thought. They just happen to like them somehow! But internally their minds did measure the person on its own desirability scale.

Now the question arises, why do we settle down with average choices?
Firstly, we expect the others (with whom we are in awe) to have a set of attributes too, according to their demeanor. We often exclaim that they are “Out of our league!”. This is a classic example where we compared our attribute set to an expected set of the other individual and concluded that maybe we are not good enough.
Secondly, we don’t want to accept the pain of rejection and play safe by opting for a choice which is perhaps not the best but is “good enough” and most of the times, we do just fine with it. It boils down to our risk appetite. Higher the risk, higher the returns!

So what happens when there are no considerable risks involved in the next choice? Why don’t we always ditch our current selection in hope for a better alternative? The answer lies in how much involved (emotionally or otherwise) are we into the current relationship. Time becomes a really important factor that can stir up some of the latent attributes. Though these attributes can be desirable or undesirable, in either case, they need a certain amount of time to surface. So although we started with an average kind of love but maybe over time, we achieved a level of intimacy (intimacy here means knowing your partner well, which is actually the cognizance of a deeper set of personality attributes) that took our love way beyond what the next better option has to offer. Time and patience are exhaustible resources so their dearth prevents us from jumping around too much.

Getting better

At this point, you might be tempted to think that if it is majorly about nailing the right set of traits, can’t you just acquire the perfect attribute recipe to win over the “love of your life”?
Well, it is theoretically possible but practically improbable because there is no way you can find out the ever-evolving list of desirable attributes held by your love interest. They themselves aren’t cognizant about it, so how can you? Sure you can work on yourself to improve each day, become a better version of yourself but doing so only to be able to surpass some imaginary standards of a specific person, will eventually result in disappointments.

Also, the very premise of being loved by someone for not what you are but for someone they can make you into, itself is toxic. You will lose track of yourself and will eventually get exhausted in this pursuit once the person is no longer there (maybe they settled somewhere else).

So what about it then?

We have seen how love (on a crude level) can be understood as a combination of visible and invisible attributes and although it sounded mechanical initially, it is pretty organic and beyond our control.
Additionally, even though it is possible to align our attributes to suit the ambiguous taste of a particular individual, it is not recommended as it can pose a threat to our own individuality.

But I must tell you about a silver lining here, there are a lot of people out here, wanting to be loved (around 7 Billion!) maybe you are one of them. Statistically, there is a high chance that the person you hold so dear to your heart as “The One” will have a lot of parallels too.

Therefore, if even after you had done everything you could (by all means go till the end, fight for it!) and it didn’t work, don’t blame yourself. Just do your thing. Not for someone else but for yourself. You are already good enough, but a little improvement aligned with your individuality can go a long way in making you better and maybe the best!

Apna time aayega!”