Wednesday, December 02, 2009

A relationship designed by committee

"A camel is a horse designed by committee," said Sir Alec Issigonis, the engineer who designed the Mini Cooper. (I'm fond of engineers, as you may have noticed.) He was born in Turkey, so he probably had some hands-on experience with camels.

I think what Issigonis meant by this statement is that committees tend to add in or expect every kind of feature, at the expense of a sleek design. Horses are sleek running machines; camels are ungainly and crotchety but highly efficient desert transport mechanisms.

Right now my life, or at least my relationship with JV, feels like it's trying to be run by committee. Not surprisingly, since I put my life out there for people to comment on. I welcome feedback, but at times I'm surprised how specific, directive, or judgmental some of the comments are.

There are probably at least three reasons why JV is reluctant to say he loves me:
  1. We have only been dating for two months
  2. He is wary of getting too involved with me before he has a chance to talk to my psychiatrist about my illness
  3. He doesn't know how to disentangle his past feelings from his present feelings, and he wants to be sure he's in love with the woman I am now, not the silly girl I was then
Any of these reasons would be sufficient and justifiable. If I was dating someone who had, say, diabetes, I would definitely want to meet with his endocrinologist before getting in too deep. We're both going to see Dr. R on December 14, so that should settle reason #2.

Some commenters feel I'm working too hard on this relationship. I agree that some people are blessed to meet someone with whom they feel an instant connection and don't need to negotiate any major differences. Others, including several friends of mine, didn't have it that easy. They didn't feel an instant connection, and they had to work out several issues before they could be happy together. It's different for everyone.

It's too soon to say if I'm working too hard to make this relationship work. I know I worked too hard with G.I. Josh, but he never really respected me. I didn't realize how mean and passive-aggressive he was toward the end until I'd been away from him for several months.

JV is not like that. And I'm going to continue to work on this relationship. Both of us are. Because life isn't always straightforward and easy. But the more you leave to the committee, the more you fall victim to groupthink and design flaws.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"


  1. I thought readers were voicing opinions- not designing or building your relationship. Opions are to be thought about or discarded...feel choice. Like this one -love or in this case being "in love" happens when and if - I can not recall speaking about whether a partner was or wasn't... Unroll there is a problem.. Such as one person is in love and is tired of waiting wondering if the other is also. Generally by that point if the other has not expressed it... Well it not there. But you have not even been together a year... So why is it an issue? Celebrate each holiday experience life as a couple... See what how being a couple feels.. Thru the seasons and daily lfe occurances feel like . That is how to me "in love" grows. Enjoy couplehood it's to early to know if it's real.

  2. Of course its easy to be direct, specific, and judgmental about someone else's relationship. People mean well but are often abrupt in internet comment boxes.

    There does seem to be a good number of red flags here, though. The way I see it, just one person's opinion, is that you are in a problematic relationship. You don't care because of your "illness", your age, your track record, and because you really like JV. The first three are not really ideal reasons to pit-bull clamp to a problematic relationship.
    Are you open to people's criticism of JV and the relationship? Or are you going to forever defend him on every point.

    I totally agree with you that many people over 30 stop being willing to work on a relationship, and many will not be willing to be understanding about another person's quirks. I'm totally with you on that. But I think the concerns raised about JV and this relationship are different.

  3. I'm sorry you misunderstood my previous comment as referring to an "instant connection", as some kind of reference to a hyper romantic version of love at first sight. Because that's not what I meant at all.

    I was really referring to your acceptance (and excusing, to borrow from a previous commenter) of all of the baggage and emotional issues that you seem to have with him. I think some people just assume that that's always part of having a relationship and I wanted to let you know that it really doesn't have to be that way.

    I agree, you should be careful of groupthink and design flaws, but you should also watch out for self-deception.

  4. As Lyn said... people are voicing opinions, not building your relationship.

    And agree with Frank and Abbi. You don't have to listen to anything anybody says to you, but if multiple people are raising the same issues and/or red flags, then that's something to keep an eye out for.


  5. Malkie Lundner12/02/2009 5:40 PM

    The previous comments cover a lot of honest territory. You have many memories and feelings that only you can appreciate. Opinions that are off-base need to be rejected and only you can do that. Serious differences tend to grow deeper as we age and resolving them becomes more complex. I don't follow committee-think. Committees have another serious flaw: If "everyone" is responsible for a decision, then "nobody" is really at fault in case of failure. YOU will have to live with any decisions you make, not a committee or even well-meaning friends. NOW is the best time to decide and discover what differences you can deal with and enjoy life, too Your ARE unique and very gifted and talented.

  6. The military innovation of camels in warefare caused the total destruction of the Persian Empire. The Persians employed Indian elephants. The Arab armies opened the attack and then proceeded to retreat into the desert. The Persian army pursued. Camels have webbed feet elephants got bogged down in the sands and the rest is history.

  7. Camels definitely have their uses, Moshe; I'm not denying that. But they're not particularly beautiful.

  8. Glad to hear you are 'working' on things with JV.

    The prior comments all reflect how your readers are 'rooting' for you. We all wish you well.

    It seems to me that you're in a bad cycle with this blog of expressing your (totally normal) doubts about the relationship, then feeling defensive when people respond.

    Why not take a break from writing about JV? Then he can go back to reading the blog : )

    As always, wishing you the best.

  9. Taking a JV-post break is probably a good idea, FTT, but I don't think I want him back on the blog just yet.