Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

23 Jan 2002, 8:10 a.m.

So now I have this theory about people's first great…

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2002 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

So now I have this theory about people's first great loves (in French, the grande passion, I think). The relationships tend to end in quarreling and talking past each other and miscommunication galore because "true love" occurs in a person's own head, not between him and his beloved. He thinks it's happening between him and his beloved, but he's really in love with a perfect entity that he's constructed in his own head and that he's loathe to reconcile with the imperfections of the actual Other. In later relationships, people are more realistic, which is to say they're more willing to modify their mental models/internal representations of their significant others, and to adjust their communications to actually understand each other and try different ways of getting across to each other.

I used the masculine there partly for simplicity. Yes, women do the won't-change-my-understanding-of-you-even-when-it's-patently-wrong thing, too. But recently I've observed more guys doing it than gals. The guys and gals are in love, the gals realize it's not going to work out, they try to stop without telling the guys "I'm not in love with you anymore," it all turns out catastrophical.