When it comes to most relationships (preferably those with some social foundation of 6 months or longer) I cannot help but begin to explore the ideas of how this came to be, and notice trends that come as a result of time spent together. Below is an idea I’ve thought about for some time and can be conceived as plausible from a philosophical sense.
Imagine two circles. Each circle will represent a person. Each circle is unique in it’s own way, but both still remain standard definitions of a circle. When two people begin to acquaint, that is symbolic of two circles moving closer to one another.
You can probably tell which direction this is headed. Yes it’s true, the more we get to know someone in how they behave or what makes them tick and show interest in them, we begin to exchange our own personal experiences and character traits in order to continue to engage in the relationship. Eventually we tend to rub off on the other person. Some turn of phrase or thought process this other circle holds begins to creep into your own circle and things then begin to look like a Venn diagram. Nothing too unusual is going on here. Things like this happen. I consider it a part of the growth process as individuals. There may be a certain outlook originally shared by someone else that you now identify with and have made it your own. Again, we’re not breaking new ground here. This happens all the time whether it be with a significant other, a roommate, a co-worker, a boss, or a parent. What has recently caught my attention is the step(s) that tend to come after.
Going back to the circle analogy, at this point our two circles have meshed with one another and our Venn diagram continues to hold true. Some would argue that the remaining time spent in said relationship the circles will continue to get closer or further away, only this time the speed at which this change happens is reduced. We tend to reach a certain point where we have an idea of the way this person functions and no longer continue as active a pursuit to learn the more intimate details the way a circle behaves.
The phenomenon I have noticed is that based on the direction that things are going, we expect a certain outcome (perhaps the two circles becoming one, or completely separating.) Neither of these tend to be the case. I have noticed that not only do the circles begin to adapt to one another, they switch places entirely. Instead of a consensual pairing, this relationship becomes more of an exchange. Much like a virus duplicates its own DNA into the host, we as human beings copy similar behaviors. I have seen work relationships to where bosses have transposed their character onto staff below them in the ranks. So much so that the fascist dictator of a boss and the rebellious worker have completely switched places psychologically. I believe the same to be true with most, if not all types of relationships of considerable length.
A mutation of sorts takes place. I imagine somebody out there has reached a point in their lives when they catch themselves acting a way their parents would react in a given situation. For me this realization is usually met with surprise, anger, sadness, and acceptance (in that order.) I know this is getting pretty analogy heavy, but we as humans have a habit of shaping those close to us in our own mental (and sometimes physical) image. It may not be as black and white as some may imagine. Often times it is subtle to the point that once the bulk of it is over, we are still unaware and oblivious to what has happened. “You’ve changed.” or, “You’ve turned into ______” may come up in conversation as a result. Other times, when we are faced in a particular situation and have already responded we’ll take a step back and begin to freak out at how (insert name) – like your tone of voice or the cadence in your response was.
Human beings are weird creatures. It is social exchanges like these that seem to be a part of the human condition. Why we do this is a mystery. That being said, I feel that one can only speculate so much on these topics until we let things ride. Even if there was a solid, logically explanation for why we do certain things like this, what purpose does it serve? And how will this change the way we continue to behave? Maybe things like this aren’t meant to be fully understood. Why do we need to know how deja vu works? For myself, most of the fun and pleasure comes from being able to identify what it is that is going on around us. If I feel that I have something to gain from said observation, I’ll continue to explore the idea. Other than that, it’s a fun thought experiment I do to occupy my time and stay fresh. Until next time….