one can think of life / relationships / work, anything as a complex system that has various states. forces and tendencies in this system lead to probabilities of being in one state or another.
e.g., the probability that i am clear-headed has to do with some complex interaction of, but not limited to,
- how well i slept
- what did i eat
- am i emotionally happy (complex sub-system of have i had the right mix of intellectual stimulation, social stimulation, alone time)
- have i exercised recently
- have i spent time outside
- is the neighbor’s dog barking
- am i hungry
- am i carrying foundational stress
- what’s in my visual field (I am quite sensory)
complex, dynamic systems actually tend to be 'self-organizing' , i.e., despite the thousands of possible states, systems tend towards a few highly probable states. thinking about human-inference models, one can hypothesize a few reasons why this is true:
1) we aren’t good at updating our models when the new data makes us appear wrong or worse-off. perhaps there are early signs that someone will break-up with you, that a company will fail, that a horrifically unlikely candidate will win a presidential election, but we ignore these signals until they are unignorable and then.. shockingly, we are “caught by surprise”.
2) we may not see / hear / receive the new data because we orbit within limited consumption bubbles. and although it appears that the circle we inhabit is sufficiently autonomous and inpenetrable, if we zoom out, we see it’s actually operating within a much larger system. the system we perceive is penetrable by, and a part of, some larger global forces. a microclimate of moss is susceptible to an eroding cliff, a marriage susceptible to unbeknownst infidelity, an entire domestic economy suffers because its been unable to bolster its growing bottom half.
3) we tend to live routine lives. we carry status-quo bias. the unknown is emotionally scary, we tend to not hang around people that are drastically dissimilar and inspire us to drastically change our lives. drastic changes are risky.
there’s one human-inference model that I, to a fault, am constantly seeking data to update:
it’s the model of “does he like me”.
i’m into this guy. we live in different cities and have a sort of amorphous relationship. but we have landed in steady-state of texting pretty much everyday, calling a few times a week and seeing each other every few months or so.
i noticed after he has some good professional news, he showed less interest and initiative to communicate with me. he hasn't called me once since his news, nor has he share the typical quotidian observations that he used to.
something changed in his model. namely, perhaps he is feeling more confident about his career and professional outlook, that he no longer needs me for whatever supportive role or happiness i provided.
the system of our relationship has changed. a truth that existed all along, but was occluded to me was that he didn’t think i was independently, ’globally’ awesome. i was awesome given some other dynamics in the system. once those dynamics changed, so did our loop, and his larger system of self-identity changed so drastically, that being together is no-longer a highly probable state.
perhaps this is how all breaks-ups happen. relationships are reinforced by, and rely on, stable system dynamics. routines. stable identities or at least identity changes that don’t influence the “should i be in this relationship model”.
then i zoom out and realize the relationship was only one part of my larger life model anyways.