Posts Tagged ‘breakups’

Marcel Proust, Ladies and Gentlemen

A best friend – she’s about to start getting her counseling degree in marriage and family therapy – and I were recently discussing relationships gone wrong. We concluded that people often exist to you in the way you experienced them, even if that’s not truly the person they are.

She just read this quote in Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way and found it highly relevant to our conversation:

We pack the physical outline of the creature we see with all the ideas we already formed about him, and in the complete picture of him which we compose in our minds, those ideas have certainly the principal place. In the end, they come to fill out so completely the curve of his cheeks, to follow so exactly the line of his nose, they blend so harmoniously in the sound of his voice that these seem to be no more than a transparent envelope, so that each time we see the face or hear the voice, it is our own ideas of him which we recognize and to which we listen…In this way we are able to pack a person full of the attributes we so desire- we fall in love with our own creation.

I think that we do this subconsciously.  Deep down, we know what we want, and we fill certain people with those ideas, even if we can’t always put it into words what those ideas are.

Here is another good, quick read about how subconscious forces play a role in our relationships (and the decay of them.) In the article, Srinivasan Pillay writes:

A recent study in the journal Psychological Science has shown that the earliest signs of “relationship decay” may be entirely outside of our conscious awareness. We may either be unaware, unable or even unwilling to report these feelings when they first begin to manifest.

The study also found that if your subconscious reaction to your partner was positive, then you were likely to stay together, whereas if it was negative, you were likely to break up. The interesting finding here is that staying together or breaking up had little to do with conscious reports of how the relationship was going. The subconscious reactions were more powerful in determining whether you stay with someone or leave than reporting that you felt satisfied with the relationship, or even acknowledging being engaged in a hostile conflict.

Pretty interesting stuff for us psych nerds to think about with regards to past and present relationships. Keep checking out the “Living” tab of Huffington Post for interesting applications of psychological science to everyday life. There’s a great social networking aspect (with recent upgrades) to the site too! Happy over-analyzing and sharing!

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