Standing between mirrors facing each other is always a trip down the rabbit hole. I suppose if they faced one another perfectly parallel, it would be impossible to catch a glimpse of infinity. As I reflect on the reflections around me, I see evidence of other times hidden inside, like secret diaries, chronicling back to the beginning of beginnings, and hinting at the future. Everything in the universe shows its age.
For example, sex stereotypes spin on dusty victrolas in mono. Some heterosexual men may feign helplessness not only to get served, to cash in on a labor balance exchange, or because they're lazy, but to evaluate their mate's nurturing capacity, her ability to respond to a self-centered infant bundle of need. This needn't be conscious; it hardly matters. Some men can't cook, can't clean, overgrown infants crying for mama, robots with intentionally obsolete parts. Good way to see if she'll lose it with a baby.
Baby talk among couples may signal more than simple fun.
Ladies may signal helplessness to test a man's know-how and protective abilities. Getting men to hook up the av equipment may be a kind of analogue to prehistoric chores. Problem solver in the realm of the foreign, the public, the cool technology without domestic warmth and familiarity. Test his fortitude, test his limits to see if he'll leave you in the lurch with a child. Be demanding, pout and fuss, evaluate his boundaries of provisioning and stamina. Don't be satisfied ever, because a man who senses satisfaction may think he can start a new adventure. Keep the poker hot. Be watchful for signs of betrayal. See if he'll take care of business and bring back the goods.
So we look into the faces of our prehistoric selves, ancient strategies still being played, ancient deals still honored that were brokered ages ago. And we're still playing the same way, but on a different field, like someone with a baseball bat swinging at a puck on ice. Or are we? We should make the effort to decide consciously, to make up our own minds. Maybe there are better ways, maybe not.
Of course there are boundaries to the comfort of our choices. Any dieter will tell you, conscious decisions can be overpowered with some ease, depending on the strength of the competing signals. In regards to gender, romance, and parenting, for some people change is more difficult. There is some apparent variation on general behavioral flexibility as well as with traits associated with sexual interests that are very real, whatever their causes.
It seems that one cause is the stress quotient associated with intimacy during our life experiences as witness to the adult relationships around us; the greater the stress and fear associated with intimacy, the more conditioned one would be by it, as the nervous system registers the stakes of experiences, sometimes in red ink with triple underscore.
There's one way that abused children become abusers that's superficially contradictory. To vow to never "take it again" is to see it sometimes when it's really not happening; and in responding defensively to stop it, one ends up mirroring the bad behavior one had received. Trying to consciously manage such psychological branding requires an exhumation and recapitulation process to try to build new associations and bring some signals under greater conscious regulation, or relieve their tension. Such is one way the brain digests.
And what we are conscious or unconscious about forms patterns among us, sometimes exquisite, sometimes like a b-movie horror flick with zombies, lumbering superorganisms of the undead.