Prompted by watching my cats snuggling, I wonder if they would actually be buddies were I to have dozens of cats - is their closeness just because apart from me, they have no options for company? Perhaps they would have a different best friend were they to have more options. It's the same way with friends, acquantences, and romantic partners - one could always imagine a much larger world that had someone better than the one one has chosen, but circumstances conspire to give one those one has. This inspires discomfort, and is rarely spoken aloud, probably because just as we would like to imagine we're special in the universe, we like to imagine that our relationships (being central to a happy life) are just as special, and it feels disrespectful to visit too bluntly the idea that were one to have met someone better-matched, the building of memories and tightening of life-orbits to make one's actual relationship awesome would not have happened. To hide this potential further, the religious have the option to say that their god(s) have willed the relationship (perhaps those old enough to have a divorce no longer are prone to such fluffy ideas - the divorcee seeking romance is like many atheists, less prone to feelings of invented levels of deep significance, even if they hope for (what I think relationship ideal should be) an intimate, hopefully lifelong life-partner. So long as we have the energy to seek them out, the connections we make are shaped by what connections are available. A bit more broadly, practically all of our life is fragile like this - feelings of destiny are a way to cope with the terror this brings - to paint a story over the terror of a universe that does not care,
In each of my three romantic relationships, I remember feeling surprised at those rare moments that I looked through the long-term-perspective eyes - feeling that it was most unlikely that I ended up with the person I was dating, thinking that the social circles the twos of us were in might be similarly surprised, and thinking about the fragility of the sequence of events that led to the relationship (each did feel more improbable and contrived than the previous). None of them happened in a vacuum - the first two through an atheist group (in another city), the last through an "older geek" group (since dissolved). It's pretty hard to have much hope for it to happen again unless I reenter at least distant orbit around some social circle. I keep thinking I should move to a new city where I'd have a chance to start fresh, although lining up another nice university job, moving out of here and in someplace else, etc sounds like a lot of effort without even a slightly specific hope of having a set of functional social ties, particularly given that I'd still be the same me wherever I go. Still, how else might I trigger the next most-imporobable-chain-of-events that might lead to my next romance? Will this next one involve governments falling, alien abductions, or the like? If it can happen, would it help me shake my depression, or would I need to somehow manage to do the latter first? It admittedly feels hopeless, although life occasionally is surprising.
Amusement: Tortfeasor (larger cat) has seen me put my hat on, and so he's anxious and attentive because he knows I'm about to leave. Pets are a kind of guaranteed (but limited) friend, an artificial form of the natural processes above.
"It's better to have loved and to have lost, than to listen to an album by Olivia Newton-John" -- Red Dwarf