Here is a response to my psychologist friend after a long conversation last night. I will add more to this when I am not so tired.
Thought: I am sarcastic and speak in hyperbole too much. Didn't pick up on a few of your comments
i am too realistic to delude myself
9:45 PM i guess i won't be happy
9:46 PM u are quite critical; which u seem to know about urself
'i guess i'll never b happy' is a strong statement
I was actually talking about the following passage:
"Surprisingly, however, Murray and colleagues (2011) found that couples who idealized each other displayed much longer lasting levels of marital satisfaction than those who held more realistic views. This effect held constant even after statistically controlling for the partner's level of neuroticism, agreeableness, depression, and a host of other attributes. In other words, it didn't matter how good or bad a participant's partner actually was, it only mattered whether or not a participant believed their partner was great."
When I said "I'll never be happy" I was saying that I am too logical for passion (from idealization), and that means my relationships will likely not be as "happy" (at least according to the data). I also think this means that if it is less happy, I will likely want to move on to better relationships.
Now that I reflect on it, the "soul mate" concept so popularly touted by everyone, although a likely delusion, probably ends up helping people to have better marriages (and this was a good thing since this was the only socially acceptable option until very recently).
Overall, I actually do think I will be happy in a lasting way (though my view of happiness is simply contentment and an end to my restlessness). If I didn't truly think it was possible, I wouldn't keep on going, I'd turn suicidal. I am an optimist at heart, and at a minimum I fortunately see too many good possibilities in my life to make such a final decision. It's why I don't walk away from relationships even once they turn sour. That is probably the key to why I go crazy at the end of relationships (when partners begin to stop emotional vulnerability). I actually see too many possibilities and am overwhelmed and don't know what to do.
By the same token, I am also afraid to make almost any permanent decisions in life. Tattoos, student loans, careers (in the conventional sense) and yes marriage (in the death do us part sense). Because of social pressures I felt my choices were only get married or don't seek out relationships. For a long time I avoiding dating, and this aversion to "forever" was my secret fear. Fortunately, I realized it's perfectly reasonable to make commitments of varying lengths and see how they go and reevaluate later. Given how many things can change between two people in a lifetime, I can't honestly promise forever. I think my big fear was dating someone, caring about them, but then hurting them later if we grew apart and they wanted to stay married when I didn't. Since I realized that isn't the only option (just like being heterosexual isn't for some people) I was able to "come out of the closet" regarding my views on the non-permanence of relationships. It's very liberating. Now I am able to just tell women I am interested in commitment (which is true), but it will be gradual and we can increase the length over time (think of it is as a lease with an option to renew/buy).
We talked about how I go from critical to hyper-critical once I move past the casual stage and officially label the relationship. You asked me what this "freak out" might mean. I think it has a lot to do with permanence. Lately I have been much better about this process given I don't have the old pressures about marriage, but I hadn't considered how much the notion of children was back in my head. In a lot of ways it's even more of a burden than marriage. The problem is I really do want children, but the thought scares the hell out of me. I also know I will only have, at most, a few children and I want their mother to be (please understand what I mean here) a "good egg donor" too. I guess it lies in the fact that I want my children to have the best head start possible (though I guess alternately it could be seen as perfection and if I except that I would probably be the cruelest father ever - or at least make the kid feel really inferior and then try really hard to be perfect and end up like me [and probably hate me] or just feel like he/she wasn't). I guess this means I just have to accept people like they are and love them for that.
I will say though it's a very difficult intersection when I think I have to look for a mother, a lover, a friend, an intellectual match, a companion, and someone who can put up with my shit and lack of stability all in the same person. I wish it was more socially acceptable to have these needs met by multiple people as it would be much easier and greatly reduce my anxiety about "making a good decision."
Along the same lines I have made a similar decision to eschew a career in favor of a series of interesting short term jobs. I am ok with being a teacher since I am freely admitting I might leave. If I had to feign to myself permanent interest in the occupation I wouldn't be so eager to try.
I'll write more on this later, but it's a good stab.
I still need to talk about trust I think, was there anything else you mentioned or hinted at? You don't have to be so delicate with me. You can be blunt. I am oblivious sometimes because I am so focused on what I am thinking.