In the field of logic, there is a fallacy called the ‘Nirvana fallacy’. It is actually a thing, but it was probably Voltaire who described it best with the line ‘Dans ses écrits, un sage Italien dit que le mieux est l’ennemi du bien’ from La Bégueule of 1772. Or in English, “In his writings, a wise Italian says that the better is the enemy of the good”.
I have barked up this tree before, I know, but today I was down-town with a friend, and we went to have some tea, and we had a long talk about this and that. As one can do in these situations, the conversations slid into the field of romance. Or, rather, that Mark and I seemed perfect for another, and that she would never have anything like that.
“All the guys I meet are arse wipes,” she then stated categorically, which made me wonder if I was included in that assessment. Maybe not, since she told me. Or maybe I don’t qualify as “a guy”. The funny thing is, with girls they tend to be very direct and open with me because I’m not trying to hit on them. I’m safe. So, they can bounce off theories about men on a man that’s disqualified from their game of love. As a gay man, never go do an all girls night out because you will be invited and you will be embarrassingly mined for data about the more crude workings of men.
I don’t really have the foundation to claim that this friend was one of the laundry list people, so I won’t, but the flow of the conversation certainly was in that direction, where she spoke of what she wanted in ‘the perfect guy’. Since Voltaire was an influence to some of the writers I’m researching now, I’ve been dabbling a bit in him, and the line I started this post with came into my mind.
It goes to the idea that “Mark and I are perfect for each other”, and I genuinely don’t think it is true. What I think is true is that neither Mark or I demand perfection in the other. Mark can be absolutely infuriating sometimes, and we certainly don’t share interests in that much, and had you asked me years ago what kind of guy I would want to get together with, I would more likely compare the ideal to some footballer than to some grunge type with too much time to colour his hair.
I suspect a lot of romances never start because the parties have a set of demands in the other partner, and since few people can live up to the demands, the romance never gets started. “It’s called having standards, Sweetie”, Mark says reading this over my shoulder. But I don’t think it’s about standards, because the standard of what Mark and I have is pretty good. I think often it’s a case of “the perfect being the enemy of the good enough”. A rough diamond can be polished and sold at auction, and the price won’t be lower than any other diamond. And if you found a rough diamond in the gutter, would you throw it over your shoulder and think to yourself “Nah, it’s not polished, so it’ll never work”?