Na mouche

Or: another post on the nature of human relationships.

“You see, what I really want, and what I’m getting with Stephen, is the opportunity to rebuild myself from scratch. David’s picture of me is complete now, and I’m pretty sure neither of us likes it much; I want to rip the page out and start again on a fresh sheet, just like I used to do when I was a kid and I had messed a drawing up. It doesn’t even matter who the fresh sheet is, so it’s beside the point whether I like Stephen, or whether he knows what to do with me in bed, or anything like that. I just want his rapt attention when I tell him that my favourite book is Middlemarch, and I just want that feeling, the feeling I get with him, of having not gone wrong yet.”

by Nick Hornby in How To Be Good
(in case you’re wandering, yes, the title of the book is ironic. if, on the contrary, you’re certain of any thing, just move on)

Insecurity. Another word for the essence of human relations, some would say. I’m not so certain, yet – as I’m not on most things – but I accept its tremendous importance when we’re talking about interaction between two or several individuals. At least we need to be secure of one thing: that we are accepted by the ones we need to get that acceptance from. In other words, and as it can be drawn by the example quoted above, we need to have our affection secured. I don’t mean as in a bank-bank, but rather a heart-bank: a place where it will be taken care of, to grow or to face the consequences of ill-treatment and die. And death here is usually merely metaphorical, because what takes place is more of a replacement.

In the book where the quote belongs, a woman realizes her husband doesn’t see her the way she needs. He sees her too well or too badly – which sometimes is just about the same. He sees a complete picture of her that took years of interaction to be sketched and now she is convinced he is disappointed. She is insecure about his love, about his hability to accept her faults, but mostly about her own ability to accept the fact that he doesn’t see her in the part she needs to play for him.

She is insecure about his love towards her but also about her capability of being thoroughly-known and appreciated simultaneously. And that is one of the things that more frequently puts end to a relationship, be it a romantic bond or a friendship. Sometimes it’s easier to start from scratch with another person than to try to get it going with the current one; other times it’s simply impossible to get along, and that’s when insecurity gives way to certainty. It’s not just that we feel ‘something’; the other person has made it clear that we aren’t good company.

In the end this means that when we reconcile with someone, we’re also reconciling with ourselves (while we rebuild our self-perception) and that when we chose to meet someone new, we’re also in need not only to let go of the previous person, but to let go of our current self-image. To meet someone new is also a fresh opportunity to play the part we want for ourselves in life.


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