Wrong Assumptions

Sometimes I come to wrong conclusions because I have made wrong assumptions. I have done the equivalent of assuming the world is flat and therefore have been careful not to sail my boat off the edge of the earth.

The wrong assumption I have made about couples is that they are happy.

Some are.

Some aren’t.

Elaine, my Ph.D. psychologist friend believes that 80% of couples are unhappy. When I pointed out that she likely has a sampling error—the couples she sees in her practice are more likely to be in trouble—she said she used in her calculation all the couples she knows. “Wow,” I said.

Laurie, my other friend with a Ph.D. in psychology, alerted me to Tim Urban’s Wait But Why blog. Urban has perfect drawings that describe my assumption error regarding couples:

How I tend to perceive couples:

Couple standing at the top of a staircase, single person standing alone at the bottom

The reality of couples:

Couple standing at top of staircase, another couple at bottom of staircase, single person in the middle

As Urban says,

Dissatisfied single people should actually consider themselves in a neutral, fairly hopeful position, compared to what their situation could be. A single person who would like to find a great relationship is one step away from it, with their to-do list reading, “1) Find a great relationship.” People in unhappy relationships, on the other hand, are three leaps away, with a to-do list of “1) Go through a soul-crushing break-up. 2) Emotionally recover. 3) Find a great relationship.” Not as bad when you look at it that way, right?

Tim Urban, Wait But Why, How to Pick Your Life Partner

I feel much better when I look at the couple staircase this way. And I feel even better when I realize that putting myself anywhere on the staircase is my choice.

In reality, there is no staircase.


Chewing the Cud of Good

Closeup of a quilt

Thankful for my life, my very own messy-beautiful-fun-muddy-lovely life.


This closes out the “Living Alone” series of posts. Next up: “Finding Our True Selves.” But before that, we’ll have a sorbet-palate-cleanser about a library.

Farewell, 2019!

Welcome, 2020!

2 thoughts on “Wrong Assumptions”

  1. The staircase drawing has the married couple at the bottom, which is fine. But they should be bruised and broken, laying on the ground in a heap.

    1. Chris, I think the happy couple at the top looks like most happy couples, but the unhappy couple at the bottom could be drawn lots of different ways—-both standing, yelling at each other; or both on the ground, bruised and broken; or one on the ground, bruised and broken with the other standing on top of the broken one. This is reminding me of a quote that I can’t quite remember… something about all happy families are the same but unhappy families are each miserable in their own way. I’ve been in both situations—happily coupled and unhappily coupled—and I am sure that happily single is better than unhappily coupled. And that happily coupled is sweet.

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