"My longings were now once more at liberty to concentrate on one or another or Albertine's friends, and returned first of all to Andree, whose attentions might perhaps have touched me less had I not been certain that they would come to Albertine's ears. Undoubtedly the preference that I had long pretended to feel for Andree had furnished me - in habits of conversation and declaration of affection - with, so ti speak, the material for a ready-made love for her which had hitherto lacked only the complement of a genuine feeling, which my heart, being once more free, was now in a position to supply. But Andree was too intellectual, too neurotic, too sickly, too like myself for me really to love her. If Albertine now seemed to me to be void of substance, Andree was filled with something which I knew only too well. I had thought, that first day, that what I saw on the beach was the mistress of some racing cyclist, passionately interested in sport, and now Andree told me that if she had taken it up, it was on orders from her doctor, to cure her neurasthenia, her digestive troubles, but that her happiest hours were those which she spent translating one of George Eliot's novels. My disappointment, due to an initial mistake as to what Andree was, had not, in fact, the slightest importance for me. But the mistake was one of the kind which, if they allow love to be born and are not recognised as mistakes until it has ceased to be modifiable, become a cause of suffering. Such mistakes - which may be quite different from mine with regard to Andree, and even its exact opposite, - are frequently due (and this was especially the case here) to the fact that people take on the aspect and the mannerisms of what they are not but would like to be sufficiently to create an illusion at first sight. To the outward appearance, affectation, imitation, the longing to be admired, whether by the good or by the wicked, add misleading similarities or speech and gesture. There are cynicisms and cruelties which, when put to the test, prove no more genuine than certain apparent virtues and generosities. Just as we often discover a vain miser beneath the cloak of a man famed for his charity, so her flaunting of vice leads us to suppose a Messalina a respectable girl with middle-class prejudices. I had thought to find in Andree a healthy, primitive creature, whereas she was merely a person in search of health, as perhaps were many of those in whom she herself had thought to find it, and who were in reality no more healthy than a burly arthritic with a red face and in white flannels is necessarily a Hercules. Now there are circumstances in which it is not immaterial to our happiness that the person we have loved for what appeared about her is in reality only one of those invalids who receive such health as they possess from others, as the planets borrow their light, as certain bodies are only conductors of electricity."
Marcel Proust, Within a Budding Grove, pp. 1005-1006
The budding relationship between Proust and Albertine has broken off, and he has turned his attention, with little apparent enthusiasm, to her friend Andree. It probably didn't help that Albertine had steered him in her direction. In anger Albertine tells him, "Own up now, it's Andree you're in love with. Besides, you're quite right; she's ever so much nicer than I am, and absolutely ravishing! Oh, you men!" However, there's a problem: Andree and Proust are simply too much alike, or at least that is Proust's opinion. "But Andree was too intellectual, too neurotic, too sickly, too like myself for me really to love her." Sadly, I suspect he's probably correct. One of the problems that I think plagued my relationship with my ex-wife was that we were, at least initially, simply too much alike. I think we saw in each other the things we loved best about ourselves, and thus we mistook friendship for a passionate love. It's not that we didn't love each other, because we definitely did. Because we were so similar we never created the apparatus within the relationship for us to not be the same person, if that makes any sense. When we began to change - well, when I began to change pretty dramatically; and, as I've said, in the end it was my fault because I think I both changed the most and also did a poor job expressing how I was changing and what I needed - we didn't know how to handle suddenly being so different. It had never been part of the relationship.
To be fair, maybe there is nothing that can be done to figure out relationships. In a couple much later relationships I can remember making the point that we didn't really have much in common. The point was not critical, but rather as part of conversations about seemingly odd couples I proposed that it didn't really matter because we didn't have anything in common. In both instances the women seemed utterly stunned, not simply that I had said it, but, that it was actually completely true. Which, of course, beings up the question of perception once again: in what ways did you think that we had something in common? The relationship I had with the lovely young British woman was, on the surface, the most illogical relationship, but in regard to day to day life, it was probably the most logical, natural relationship I've ever had. We got along so famously every day, and thus in the light of a lived relationship we seemed to have everything in common; and, I would argue, probably the only kind of "in common" that matters. It was only when you took a step back and looked at it analytically that you realized that we had nothing in common. Once again, this is why the brain is consistently our most bitter enemy.