Relationship OS

As we get older and our experiences pile up, we create our own personal “operating system.”  The commands, rules, decision chains etc. get tailored to our “hardware.”  We create an “owner’s manual” that informs our actions and reactions.  The major problems seem to occur when we try to apply those “rules” to situations that are only superficially similar and when we expects others to operate from the same software and hardware.

This, I think, is what I’ve always identified as the “baggage” that accompanies each person into new relationships.  As I’ve gotten older, I’m less tolerant of that baggage and, I assume, they are less tolerant of mine.  All of that can be overcome unless those rules are hardwired into habits, especially ones that are unconscious or so ingrained as to be unbreakable.

My mom has a habit of avoiding confrontation and a fear of being lonely.  I’ve identified the avoidance of confrontation in myself and I can consciously overcome that.  However, I can also consciously continue avoiding it.  I think the worst rule that I brought our of my original family is:  “Avoid change.  Things can always get worse.”  The corollary of that is that everyone wants something, especially if they do something nice for you first.

Addictions are the penultimate example of synchronized software and hardware.  For my mom’s roommate (formerly boyfriend), it is alcohol and jealousy and they are a vicious cycle.  He attempts to isolate her and get her focused entirely on him, when she rebels and connects with family and friends, he drinks.  When he drinks, he looses a little more of her regard, etc.

I intellectualize everything and love to figure things out.  This carries over into my relationships.  And, I tend to get bored with the people who I’ve been able to codify.  This can be offset by how they view and see me and by how open they are to change and new experiences.  When that is working though, I have to be careful not to “over share.”  By over sharing, I mean letting them know just how much I’ve figured out.  I generally reveal too much attempting to help them, to bolster their self-esteem or improve their outcomes.  And that is where I sit with my roommate today.