I am a woman born 1949 and my quest is to find a mindmate
to grow old together as a mutually devoted couple
in a relationship based upon the
egalitarian rational commitment paradigm
bonded by intrinsic commitment
as each other's safe haven and secure basis.

The purpose of this blog is to enable the right man
to recognize us as reciprocal mindmates and
to encourage him to contact me:

The entries directly concerning,
who could be my mindmate,
are mainly at the beginning.
If this is your predominant interest,
I suggest to read this blog in the same order
as it was written, following the numbers.

I am German, therefore my English is sometimes faulty.

Maybe you have stumbled upon this blog not as a potential match.
Please wait a short moment before zapping.

Do you know anybody, who could be my mindmate?
Your neighbour, brother, uncle, cousin, colleague, friend?
If so, please tell him to look at this blog.
While you have no reason to do this for me,
a stranger, maybe you can make someone happy, for whom you care.

Do you have your own webpage or blog,
which someone like my mindmate to be found probably reads?
If so, please mention my quest and add a link to this blog.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

160. Conscience as an Emotional Safety Net

Conscience as an Emotional Safety Net

Entry 158 was about the price to pay for a relationship.   There is more to it.

The price, someone is willing to pay to be in a relationship depends on how much value the relationship has in the subjective perception of that person.   This depends on the quality of the partner, how much personal needs and desires are fulfilled, and the scarcity or availability of a suitable partner.   

This has a short-term and a long-term variety.  

The short-term variety is just a deal between two persons in direct exchange of benefits, as already described for the hedonist.   He is willing to pay as little as possible and only for the purpose to get immediate satisfaction for his physical needs.  

While getting also short term benefits from a relationship is not altogether unimportant, the reason to pay a price for being part of a committed bonded couple is mainly calculated and evaluated long term.

In short, a hedonist decides the price of a relationship by the value of the immediate physical benefits and by the availability of a replacement.
A mature, bonding Epicurean decides the price of a relationship by the value of the person for his long-term goals and immaterial needs.  

Entering commitment implies for mature and decent people to accept, that some behaviors, that are perfectly correct for a single person, are hurting transgressions for partners in a relationships, and that they have mutual obligations, that single people are free from.   They agree, either implicitly or explicitly, what these behaviors are.   They consider the restrictions as the unavoidable price to pay for the benefits of being in a relationship.    If the price is too high, they do not get involved.   When they get involved, they have accepted getting good value for the price they accepted to pay.

When the couple gets involved based upon an agreement of the framework of their future relationship and on what behavior to expect and what behavior not to have to fear, they are not yet paying the price.    Entering commitment is like buying something on credit.   Each partner trusts that the other will pay when the occasion arrives.    Paying the price comes, when acting as bound by the agreement and fulfilling obligations is a sacrifice compared with what the partner would do, were he still single.  

There are two main factors determining, if someone will act as bound by agreements and obligations or not, they are intrinsic and extrinsic.  Both factors are ultimately rewarding good and punishing bad behavior.  
The extrinsic factors are the appreciation and evaluation of the partner on a long-term basis, considering all the previous experience together and extrapolating it into the future.   The reward for correct behavior is long-term happiness, the punishment for transgressions is loosing the relationship.
The intrinsic factor is the conscience, that requires moral, self-control, empathy, consideration, responsibility.  Correct behavior is rewarded by maintaining the own positive self-esteem as being a good person, while the punishment for transgressions are feelings of guilt, shame, contrition, remorse.   

Therefore, for a bonded, devoted couple, the extrinsic motivation of valuing each other usually is enough to fulfill obligations and agreements of commitment without hesitation, but the conscience is an additional safety net.   If ever there is a crisis bad enough to make one or both stop valuing the other, then the conscience requires to act decently, correctly and rationally.   But in the early phase of a relationship, when there is not yet a reliable bond, the conscience also has a very important function.    It helps avoid rush actions based upon misunderstandings and misinterpretations.   

That all means, that as long as a man acts bound by agreements and obligations without hesitation or complaint, the woman can usually interpret this, that all is well and that he values and appreciates her.    Were it different, would he only act by conscience, then the same conscience would also require from him to be sincere, tell her his reasons and initiate communication to solve the issues.   
As long as he honors agreements and obligations, she can feel safe, she can rely on what to expect and on what would never happen to her.    She can trust, that he will behave correctly not only based on the fear of loosing her, but also on his own urge to be a correct and decent person, who feels obliged to himself and to his moral self-esteem to honor all agreements.   

In entry 36, I already mentioned the importance of being guided by a conscience.    I just read the book by Robert Hare:  Without Conscience.    It is a lot of food for thoughts.
When entering commitment, it needs a careful assessment, if the other will pay the price, will honor all agreements without hesitation and without failing.