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  • For most of human history, relationships  were relatively simple for a banal yet immovable  

  • reason: it was extremely hard to meet anyone  acceptable - and everyone knew it. There were only  

  • a few people in the village, travel was expensive  and social occasions few and far between

  • This had many drawbacks: it encouraged  people to accept offers from suitors they were  

  • unconvinced by, it meant that characters  who would have delighted each other  

  • died lonely and unfulfilled because there  were a few mountains or a river between them

  • Our technologists have used their  genius to correct these historic obstacles  

  • and provide us with unending choice. Meeting  someone new is now a constant possibility.  

  • But this breakthrough at the level of introduction  has obscured an ongoing challenge at the level of  

  • ultimate purpose: we may have become easier  to meet, but we are not any easier to love.  

  • We remain - each one of us - highly  challenging propositions for anyone to take on.  

  • All of us are riddled with psychological quirks  that serve to render an ongoing relationship  

  • extremely problematic: we are impatientprone to making unjust accusations,  

  • rife with self-pity, and unused to expressing  our needs in a way they can be understood  

  • by others - just to start the listThat we can meet so many people  

  • has beautifully obscured our ugly sides, breeding  in us the charming yet misleading idea - which  

  • engulfs us any time we hit difficulties - that  we are in trouble because we have not until now  

  • metthe right person.’ The reason why there  is friction and longing has, we tell ourselves,  

  • nothing to do with certain stubborn infelicities  in our own natures or paradoxes in the human  

  • condition as a whole, it is only a matter of  needing to hunt further for a more reasonable  

  • candidate who will, at last, see things our way. The promise of choice has drained us of the  

  • patience and modesty necessary to grapple with  the tensions that are prone to come our way  

  • whomever we might be with. We forget that almost  everyone is a charming prospect so long as we know  

  • nothing about them. Part of what it takes to be  ready for love is to imagine the difficulties that  

  • we cannot, as yet, know too much about in detailthe bad moods that will lurk behind the energetic  

  • smiles, the difficult pasts that lie beneath the  lustrous eyes, the tangled psyches that reside  

  • beneath a stated love of camping and the outdoors. Even though there are hundreds of other people  

  • we might meet, there are not - in truth  - so many people we could really love.  

  • Dating apps may have made it  infinitely easier to connect  

  • but they haven’t helped us in any way to be more  patient, imaginative, forgiving or empathetic,  

  • that is, any more adept at the arts that  make any one relationship viable. Most of  

  • the issues we experience with a given candidate  will therefore show up, in comparable guises,  

  • with almost anyone we might stumble upon. The real work we should be doing  

  • isn’t - once we have had a reasonable look  around - to keep trying to meet new people;  

  • it’s to get to the root of what makes it hard to  live with any one person we could alight upon

  • We will be ready for love when we surrender  some of our excited sense of possibility and  

  • recognise that though we might have many choiceswe don’t - in reality - have so many options.  

  • It may sound dark, but this will, in its  own way, be a liberating realisation that  

  • can help us redirect our energies away from  the exhausting circuit of new encounters  

  • towards a search for the kind of mutual emotional  maturity on which true love can one day be built.

For most of human history, relationships  were relatively simple for a banal yet immovable  

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