Re: Wanting to Want (was: Uploads and betrayal)
Thu, 2 Dec 1999 22:11:02 EST

In a message dated 12/2/1999 9:50:31 AM EST, writes:

<< I'm not so sure. In many ways we fool ourselves into thinking that that our
values are the ones others would approve of, and are not very aware of the degree to which our values are otherwise, and of how functional those other values are.

For example, consider "limerence", or the feeling of being in love. In this state, people think their current love is by far the most important thing in life, and are confident this feeling will last for a long time. But in fact they don't actually change that much in their life for their love, and the feeling passes much more quickly than they expect.>>

I may be wrong, but to me this sounds like the Western ideal of "romantic love". Romance is important to me, I enjoy it and want to keep it for a long time. Also my wife is important to me, and I want to keep her for a long time. While the love I have for my wife comes in many different layers, and is one of the most important things in my life, it is not all consuming, nor would I wish it to be. As in all aspects of my life, I seek a healthy balance that will be of benefit to me and my family. You are right in that romance can quickly fade; that is why it must be constantly renewed and reinvented. Mostly, it is a matter of being thoughtful and creative, both of which I consider traits I already possess, and both of which I use for more than just wooing my wife.


I think in unhealthy relationships this model has some validity. But there is also the matter of commitment; I am not fooling myself into staying but making a long term decision to be an active, true partner to my wife, as she has made with me. We both know there will be times of trouble, and disagreement, but we have decided that we are worth standing beside through it all. It is a commitment to grow together, not try to freeze our development to one point in time, which really would be fooling ourselves.

<<In the future, all sorts of trouble will come from people who fall in love and then change themselves to stay in that state of mind, forever writing love poems, using pet names, and sacrificing all for their partner, even when that partner did not so change themselves and have passed on to other relationship stages (including goodbye).>>

You describe an inequitable relationship, which I would consider unhealthy. Now, I don't have much of a problem with writing love poems forever (as long as they serve the purpose of communicating my feelings to my wife), nor using pet names (they are an expression of intimacy and the personal bond between people; besides, they're great for sickening single people<eg>), but sacrificing "all" is a different issue. What would "all" entail? I would do a great deal to make my wife happy, but I would not do anything I considered wrong or evil, and I would not change myself to consider whatever my wife wants as right. We should act as checks on one another, not be simple automata in servitude one to the other.

<<Similarly, great trouble will come from people making themselves actually be more like the loyal, fearless, upbeat, compassionate, exciting, etc. person they think they are, and want to become even more. By not realizing how functional it is to often have the opposite of these characteristics, they will become substantially less functional.>>

I think the problem with this is that it is too simple a way to change things, just by increasing traits. Loyalty is a great trait to have, but it must be constructed in a way as to have a loyal way of disagreeing. Fearlessness is never a quality I would aspire to, but rather courage; the ability to do what is necessary despite one's fears. Fear should remain as a warning, not a master. Upbeat is a good one to culture for most occasions, but you should be able to be somber when the occasion calls for it. Compassion you can never have too much of, but that doesn't mean it should be the absolute arbiter of your actions. Sometimes, people must face the consequences of their actions; what you really need is the wisdom to know which time is which. Exciting is an interesting trait that I hadn't even thought of; I'll have to think about it. Again, the bottom line is balance; setting up a homeostatic community of traits and emotions that will best serve yourself and those around you. This is why I am more interested in fine tuning my current personality than totally rewiring it; I know what I have works pretty well.

<<So I am selfish, but like most people I want to think of myself as compassionate, and so in that sense I want to want to care. But realizing the above problem, I don't want to want to care as much. (So Hal, is that a good example of W3? :-)>>

I want to care as much as I can, both about myself and others. Why do the two have to be mutually exclusive? There is nothing wrong with caring, but it must be balanced with a realistic assessment of what is possible or even desirable to do about our compassion at any given time. I don't let it eat me up when I can't cure the world's pain, instead I'm happy about doing what I can, and working towards increasing that ability. I would rather want to be able to do and care more than want to not want to care so much. I suppose this is because I do not find caring an intrinsically harmful desire.

One thing I would change about myself is my desire to procrastinate; I want to not want to delay (except my desire to put off death, I'll keep that as my ultimate act of procrastination<g>). Even though procrastination has been a long part of my personal history, I find it overall maladaptive and am working all the time to improve it.

Glen Finney