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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Standard Deviation


An interesting conversation I had with one of my partners the other day exposed an interesting theory.

It seems some people prefer to measure potential partners against a predetermined mental list of criteria, quickly dismissing those who don't satisfactorily measure up. I call this person Low Risk in terms of entertaining the possibility of a relationship.

Another type of person is willing to entertain the possibility of a relationship with most anyone who isn't an obvious mismatch. Their approach to relationships is that the result can't be known without actually attempting a relationship. I call this person High Risk in relationship terms, as they are willing to take the risk of a relationship with just about anyone. Obviously these two types are not all-inclusive but rather general and broad in definition.

Where it gets really interesting is in comparing the two styles. The Low Risk person will appear to be quite selective, often seeming to dismiss potential matches easily. They can appear conservative or even dismissive when it comes to engaging physically. The High Risk person on the other hand may appear to dive into relationships quickly, including the physical aspects, and are more prone to heartbreak. They are often judged as loose or promiscuous by their quick involvement with others and number of relationships.

Putting these two types of people together in a relationship may seem like a contradiction and with some, it could even cause some serious problems. The chances of these two types of people judging each other as incompatible for a relationship seems pretty high. However, I have been in a relationship that had these two types and it functioned because we didn't judge each other. We understood they are simply two different styles and both are valid, functional models. At the same time the differences can cause confusion. The Low Risk person may have a hard time understanding why the High Risk person is diving into relationships quickly while the High Risk person may not understand why the Low Risk person seems to frequently dismiss relationship opportunities. Furthermore, the Low Risk person may become frustrated with the frequent emotional turmoil experienced by the High Risk person around their relationships while the High Risk person may feel the Low Risk person is stagnant or even avoiding relationships.

Another aspect to this theory is that either person can change their behavior and shift to the other type. I have often seen people consciously make the decision to either take more risks when it comes to relationships, or to be more careful. This leads to the probability that there some who are a balance between the two types, artfully managing risk and reward against their needs.

Do you agree with this theory? Do you fall solidly into either category or are you a person capable of blending the two? Have you, or do you, switch between the types?

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