Real stories about dating and relationships in New York City. Truth is more interesting than fiction.

Stories Change

Stories Change just a story  iStock 000003604588XSmall 241x300A few days ago I mentioned a study involving divorced women. According to an article detailing the study,

“30 percent of now-divorced women say they knew in their gut they were making a mistake as they walked down the aisle — and kept walking anyway.”

It’s easy to guess why this might be so. And, in fact, many of us came up with theories as to why.  But I have another theory, one that’s been on my mind lately, in a round about way.

Stories .

For example, man meets woman. Man dates woman. He shares, with friends and family, concerns about whether or not this is a good match for him. There seems to be a lot of drama.  But they continue to date.  And after a year+ and a couple of rough patches they decide to live together.  Subsequently, he tells friends and family that they are madly in love and he’s always known they are meant to be together forever.

Did he always know they were meant to be together forever, or is he changing the story? And yes, these are real people.

I suspect that his is changing. That he is selectively remembering things differently. Subtly. I’m sure there are all kinds of research studies that might explain this. Or not. But I’m not in research mode (and this is just my silly personal blog).

I’ve come to believe, though, that we all change our stories, unintentionally. That we misremember details and/or shift to make things fit with the conclusion we  select for ourselves.  So, in the case of the man meets woman story, the man has selected a happy ending.  Therefore, he is eliminating all of the doubt he used to have from the final narrative.  Now, when  he tells the story of his relationship, he says that he’s always known that they were meant to be.

Makes sense? A little bit?

I’m guessing that a fair share of people have doubts on their wedding day. Our society is changing rapidly and ideas about family and are wrapped up with all kinds of political, religious and cultural tension. doesn’t mean what it used to mean (for many people).

So are those now divorced women any different from the general population of married women/people? In other words, were they really experiencing more doubt than anyone else? Or did they decide, in retrospect, that their stories went that way?  That their marriages were doomed from the start?

Just something I’ve been thinking about, in general. The way we interpret our experiences, tell our stories, compare our truths. Not that I know shit about marriage or divorce. I just thought it was interesting to look at that specific study through this lens.

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8 to “Stories Change”

  1. I wholeheartedly agree that stories change not just unintentionally but sometimes on purpose. People change, and unless you’re reading the journal you wrote at the time I think it’s very hard to put your current self in the shoes of your past self without coloring things.

    I like to give myself latitude when thinking back on my past relationships and even myself in general. Otherwise I think you can get stuck – letting yourself believe some decision in the past is wholly to blame for whatever current situation you’re not happy with, instead of just dealing with the here and now.
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  2. Gatling says:

    I’m not sure about the “story change” angle. However, I do think that women — especially women in their 20′s have in mind what I call a “wedding cake guy”. The guy that will look good next to her on the wedding she has dreamed about. He is the right height, eye color, has the correct hair, believes in the right things etc., etc. etc. Most women abandon much of this as they enter their 30′s. My theory is that, when push comes to shove, and the actual wedding is at hand, many women know instinctively that their selection process for someone to marry has been flawed.

  3. Faolan Riley says:

    Well in the society I am from divorce is a thing that is almost unheard of but as of now its constantly growing because people are losing touch with their roots. In Trinidad most people regard marriage as sacred and something that is not to be backed down from. My parents and grandparents went through so much crap and they are still together fighting to move up after 30+ years of marriage. People need to look back at how their elders used to live and take note of how their marriage progressed.
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  4. NtYtCrzyCatLdy says:

    Forgetting the bad and only remembering the good is how the MAJORITY of us has spent our lives. We WANT to believe in the good and repress the ‘evil’. It’s our nature. I stood at the end of the aisle listening to the music play KNOWING I shouldn’t walk towards my fiance because it was a BIG ASS mistake. I took so long he actually had to come looking for me (we were on a beach, there were palm trees, etc.) But I did it anyway because we innately have HOPE! We HOPE it will work out and our feelings are wrong. So really it is us against ourselves. The “ourselves” are formed from the many love stories/romance novels/soap operas/relationships formed in another generation that we watched as younger forming minds. I have never denied my story of how it all went down. I KNEW but was too scared/embarrassed/stupid to do the right thing. I shoulda just lived in sin with him. Would have been so much easier.

  5. matt says:

    that statistic about the 30% is probably off. Everyone, 100% of people get cold feet… and when you get divoreced and look back at it of course you are more liable to say you knew it was a mistake.

  6. Black Iris says:

    I think you’re making a lot of sense here. Studies have also shown that people who are getting ready to get divorced can change their story of their relationship to a worse one.

    An interesting thing here, though, is that 70% of divorced women did not think they were making a mistake when they married.

  7. Hindsight is never 20/20. We filter our experience to suit us. People prove to be inaccurate historians of their own lives.
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  8. Trevor says:

    It’s the Autobiography Factor (just made that name up). You know, when people write about all their foul-ups in their autobiography but then spin it so that, you know what, everything bad actually turned out to have a reason. False justification. We can only handle the weight of so many mistakes so we have to start spinning them to ourselves. Then we spin them to others because we want their approval. Of the false story anyway…