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Without anyone meaning for this to happen, parents inevitably bruise and damage their children.
It will also lay down a reserve of compassion at moments when their adult selves are overwhelmed by the dynamics of the past.
We’re wondering how well they can pinpoint what went wrong and whether failure has provided them with an occasion to learn rather than merely lament or blame. There can be so much buried sorrow in the history we share with two people on earth we tend to love and hate in almost equal measure – and owe so much to.
We will listen to what parents were too brittle, too defensive or too proud to hear.
But if a date is at heart an audition for the emotional capacities required for the success of a long-term relationship, the real purpose of conversation must be to try to understand the deep self of the other person.
We know we will be doing well if, at a certain point, our date reflects that they’ve never been asked so many psychologically-weighty questions – and are we perhaps some sort of psychotherapist in training…?