PQ 8.2 — Am I uncertain about the value my partner sees in me? Am I not sure why my partner wants to be with me?

a black stone wall with the white numbers "1571" painted on it as an address
Image by Steve Snodgrass / CC BY

PQ 8.2 — Am I uncertain about the value my partner sees in me? Am I not sure why my partner wants to be with me?

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Am I not sure why my partner wants to be with me?

It took me a very long time to realize it, but the nice thing about this question is that it doesn’t matter.

As I wrote in an earlier piece, when it comes to love, you need to find the house, not the address. So long as you know that someone cares, you don’t really need to understand why. When we try to pinpoint the exact origin, we’re asking for an address. And while these kinds of answers can feel like life or death, it’s the house that’s important. Who cares if you have the exact address right? You found the house, that’s what’s important.

Because sure, there’s a certainty to an address. There’s a feeling that we know where we’re going, that we can control our destiny. But do those numbers really describe the house? And can a description supplant the actual experience of having been in a place? Having lived there?

No.

We don’t have to know exactly why a partner wants to be with us. All that matters is that we know they do.

And besides, there’s much to be said for uncertainty as an aphrodisiac:

As Esther Perel writes in Mating in Captivity:

Passion in a relationship is commensurate with the amount of uncertainty you can tolerate…When we peg ourselves and our partners to fixed entities, we needn’t be surprised that passion goes out the window.

Our willingness to engage that mystery keeps desire alive. Faced with the irrefutable otherness of our partner, we can respond with fear or with curiosity. We can try to reduce the other to a knowable entity, or we can embrace her persistent mystery. When we resist the urge to control, when we keep ourselves open, we preserve the possibility of discovery.

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This post is part of a series in which I answer each of the chapter-end questions in More than Two with an essay. For the entire list of questions & answers, please see this indexed list.

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