High context relationships

Watch a pair of 70-80 year olds who’ve been together for half a century some time. They often appear to ignore each other, because they have such a strong internal model of the other’s mind that they can anticipate their partner’s words or actions: it’s an ignorance derived from deep insight and familiarity, not obliviousness…At the same time, they may not notice or be able to respond effectively if their partner is undergoing an exceptional crisis such as a stroke or heart attack: the phenomenon is so far out of scope that they don’t recognize it as an emergency at first, unless their attention is specifically redirected from their mental map of the other and back to the human territory it represents. [link]

(Conversely, couples who have been together a few years and who don’t know or understand each other well just have crappy mental maps of each other, and it’s not likely to get any better over time.)

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