Generalization: the more you know someone the less you understand them

I was having lunch recently with one of my favorite couples and the woman was discussing her thought process about something–probably the plan for the day or a purchase she was going to make or something she was going to eat counterbalanced by something she wasn’t going to eat. Regardless, there were a lot of variables going into the equation and it made complete sense to me, but her husband of ten years turned to her and said, shaking his head, “Sometimes I think I understood you better when we first started dating.”

This struck me as terribly funny, terrible and funny being one of my favorite combinations. I don’t want to generalize about men and women here–although as I’ve pointed out, I think these kinds of shortcuts are something we often do whether we want to or not–but when a relationship is new people often try to put their best foot forward, to seem easygoing or engaged in a way that’s hard to sustain. I assured him, it’s not that people, particularly women, are trying to be manipulative, it’s that we’re trying to project the person we most want to be.

It’s like what Lee Martin was talking about at AWW, about there being two stories in a good short story, the one the character tells herself and the real story. I need to think more about how to get this dynamic in the piece I’m working on.

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