The Irrelevance of Certainty

“Nothing’s ever for sure, John. That’s the only sure thing I do know. ” -Charles, A Beautiful Mind (2001)

My relentless pursuit toward rationality came after the end of my first relationship. It was a fierce reaction toward a fierce external event, very primal. At that point of time, I was convinced that by finding all the answers of why had the relationship ended, subsequently devised a solution to the problem, I could avert another similar occurrence in the future.

By having answers toward that branch of event, I believe it would have set me free from any potential future suffering. This stood true only until recently, where a new conclusion came upon me.

Long have I contemplated on how other people feel certain of their relationship. From what I’ve gathered, it usually takes an individual few months to express love and probably a year or two before the individual feel certain that his/her relationship will persist, but there is also another pattern that works “backwards”.

For example, if John had dated Sarah for a year and is generally okay with the relationship, he could project the relationship for another year. And if the second year went as well as the first, or even better, he could then again project the relationship for another year, or even for a slightly longer period.

It works “backward” when both individual feels that they found love at first sight and are both determine to see the relationship through. In this case, both parties find certainty first then sort it out later while the previous tries to sort things out before arriving at the same conclusion.

Obviously, both cases are general presumption where other factors such as individuality, age of said individual, individual circumstances etc could affect the projection of the relationship duration, thus the certainty factor.

However, there is no need to go deep into them, because these factors are irrelevant.The reason being that both yields the same result, where both factors links up to form a cycle to perpetuate the relationship.

For the first example, if the relationship works well and certainty is found, certainty will then also push the relationship forward. Because then, sorting things out with our partner becomes a duty to a certain future.

As for the second example, because there is duty to a certain prospect at first, sorting things out thus becomes the result of the couple’s duty. Thus explaining the original hypothesis of its irrelevance.

If certainty with a partner is irrelevant, the next question directs to the process of partner selection.

The classical understanding to this problem will propose the following solution: first, to find understanding within ourselves to devise a list of traits and characteristics to look for in the other party. This list may be comprise of general interest, temperament,  cultural background, appearances etc.

Once the list is completed, the seeker shall not settle for anything less than acceptable within the content of the list. Therefore, by fulfilling this rule, it is fair to say that the person in the list had already materialise and it is only a matter of time that the seeker will find what is there to find.

It is akin to shopping. For instance, if I were shopping for mandarin orange and certain that is what I want, I would not accept normal oranges no matter how attractive they look. And if I don’t settle for any substitute, it would only be a matter of time before I find what I seek.

Thus, if the seeker manage to map out his values and philosophy toward life along with other characteristic, he could then find someone who share similar interest and values which could then lead to a happy and fulfilling relationship.

This was supported by the research findings of Dr Helen Fisher, who went ahead to design a compatibility matrix for a dating website.

However, while this empirical understanding of love looks good on paper, it does make love seem like a box ticking exercise. Acquaintance that I’ve spoken to seem to collectively agreed that while the box ticking does help as a general guideline, it does not seem to be that helpful for final decision making.

Furthermore, I had witness relationship comprising of two similar individuals failed, but also seen relationship with polar opposites that thrive. Despite what Dr Helen Fisher had found, there is still no conclusive evidence that similar individuals getting together is a good idea, it merely concludes that similar individual have a better chance at a fulfilling relationship.

So, this left us with the question mark over the couples who are polar opposite, but yet are able to emulate a healthy relationship and thrive.


The answer came at an unlikely hour. The key ingredient to a good relationship is to be able to fully grasp the nature of our partner and understand every part of their lives. It is when we lose our sight, we see what another sees and be able to truly appreciate what they in turn appreciate.

Only then, could we be genuinely kind and compassionate in our response to the world they live in. This could be achieved much easier, if two person share common ground and see the world that they share from the same perspective. Thus reflects Dr Helen’s findings that it is easier to find love within the same tribe.

This answer leads to the conclusion that it is possible to be with polar opposites, suggesting that compatibility studies could be irrelevant if both parties could be empty. This brings us back to the original question of how do we select a partner.

If we are able to fit into everyone’s life, how do we select a life partner?

At this final juncture, the answer “You just know it” finally made sense to me.

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