So You’re Single!

Dr. Steve Mason
“We make some of our greatest gains when we see old things in new ways.”

Contact Dr. Mason by email at

So You’re Single!

You’ve probably heard this old joke: When a woman asks a man what he does, he says he’s just gotten out of prison for killing his wife.  So, she says, you’re single.

You can tell a great deal about people by paying attention to the jokes they tell. In our society, relationships – and all the ways they can go wrong – are a ready source of humor. Think of some disastrous way that someone can be disappointed while attempting to bond and you’re sure to get a big laugh. Realizing how important a good relationship is, the big laugh registers relief. It was somebody else who slipped on the banana peel.

So why is it that it’s so hard to find Mr/Ms Right and not have to settle for a Mr/Ms Might Do? The benefits would seem to be obvious in a society that considers Solitary Confinement a form of punishment. And that’s probably the answer. The fear of being alone makes even a questionable union seem appealing. Not only that individuals in relationships have been found to live longer, healthier and presumably happier lives. So how do you know when you’re on the right track in your search for a significant other? There are two major clues – Chemistry and Compatibility.

Chemistry is an emotional feeling of comfort and joy experienced when you’re in his/her presence and just the opposite when you’re not. Time flies when you’re together and drags unbearably when you’re apart. Interestingly enough, your body produces a hormone – called Oxytocin – that creates the same sense of ecstasy a new mother feels when she first lays eyes on her new baby.

Compatibility is a logical sense of being synchronized. You have the same opinions and the same values. Often you meet as members of a special interest group such at a church, a club, a hobby or a sporting event. You’re delighted to find someone so rational. You agree on almost everything. You think alike and even finish each other’s sentences.

But there’s a problem – and it’s a big one – if you only have one of the two.

Have just Chemistry and you find yourself in a relationship that’s too hot not to cool down. Give it time, sometimes a year and sometimes just a night, and you find yourself wondering: Who is this person? What did you ever see in him/her? It was all physical and now you’re into friction and fights.

Have just Compatibility and after giving it some time you find that being alike is a lot like being alone. If you can finish each other’s sentences, why bother to start a conversation? It was all too mental and now you’re into a dull, boring relationship with each of you retiring to your closed-off, private space.

Look At It This Way

While there’s a long standing tradition of regarding love as a mysterious phenomenon that you fall into or out of, it should be no more unfathomable than a job interview. To check for Chemistry, make a list of your five senses and then, taking each in turn, consider all the ways in which your ‘job applicant’ fills the bill. In how many ways, for example does he/she delight your sense of sight, sound, etc. Then make another list for Compatibility. On how many thoughts do you agree, how many views do you share and how many activities do you enjoy equally?

If you can quickly fill both lists with many entries then, as Rick said to Captain Renault: “I think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

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