Insights for the deeply romantic and deeply skeptical

The Difference Between Stable and Unstable Relationships

Does it bug you when your partner can't see the forest for the trees? Or can't focus on crucial details? If so, what do you do about it? Your answer matters, because it turns out that how you handle disagreements about the right level of analysis is crucial to a relationship's sustainability. Read More

Hmm These are great,i really

Hmm These are great,i really appreciate this. this is excellent article and great suggestion to Thank you for sharing.!!

Im not sure what this article

Im not sure what this article is saying.

Sorry if my article was

Sorry if my article was confusing or vague. I may have been trying to say too much in too few words. Try this: We all know that people can disagree about what's significant, and can get on their high horse about it, like they know for sure what's significant and insignificant. That high horse business is hard on any relationship but especially romantic ones, since it's hard to keep the love light burning for someone who thinks you're a total idiot for thinking something is important that they don't. Contempt is the kiss of death in partnership.

I was tying that idea together with another one which is about how it's not just what we think is significant, but the scale of analysis, like google maps zooming in to details and zooming out to the big picture. For example if one partner says "You pick on every little detail about me." and the other says "You make these sweeping generalizations."

The problem with getting on our high horses as though we know what's important and what isn't is that significance isn't the only reason we want to focus on one thing over another. Often we prefer to focus on stuff in our comfort zone. We zoom into a detail to avoid some scary thought about the big picture, or we zoom out to the big picture so we don't have to look at some inconvenient detail. So saying "you're an idiot for wanting to focus on that." is often just an insulting way of saying "please don't make me look at what I'm trying to ignore.

And I'm saying relationships do better when you understand these points I've made here.

I hope that helps.


ok thx. Usually I like your

ok thx. Usually I like your posts but this seems a bit too zen. Obviously being contemptuous and calling someone an idiot for not liking what you like is not a good relationship strategy.

Over-thinking is described at length in the post, but to what point? We all know overanalyzing gets tedious for all involved and some ppl are just prone to it.

I guess I just don't think the post lives up to the title of describing stable and unstable relationships, ie I don't see anything there that isn't dead obvious.

Fair enough. It's a

Fair enough. It's a percentage game, both in the writing and the reading. Another reader said this was very useful, but I lord knows of the 600 articles I've written there are bound to be some turkeys.

Still, I don't think I describe overthinking at length in this article. I hardly mentioned it. My concern here was more actually with underthinking which would motivate contempt. After all if you think people are stupid for disagreeing with you, you hardly feel the need to justify your beliefs. You can just say "it's insignificant because it is, and anyone who disagrees about that is a douche."

I hope you'll give other articles of mine a try in the future. Maybe I've lost my touch or maybe it's just the occasional turkey.

Thanks for thinking with me,


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Jeremy Sherman is an evolutionary epistemologist studying the natural history and practical realities of decision making.


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