Jack Almeleh, M.D. is a Board-Certified psychiatrist who practiced in Manhattan but has since retired to South Florida. While other South Florida retirees spend their time at the beach, Dr. Almeleh spent it writing a book: “Finding The Right Pieces: A Guide Book for Personal Relationships” (Stillwater River Publications; $12.95).
“The purpose of this book is to present models of relationships - casual relationships, friendships, and romantic relationships - that are easy to understand, and, if kept in mind, can enable the reader to function more comfortably and find fulfilling relationships.”
In “Finding The Right Pieces,” Dr. Almeleh uses jigsaw puzzle pieces to represent who we are as individuals. “People are different. And in this book, we represent that difference by a unique shape to a person’s jigsaw puzzle piece. Showing the true shape of one’s jigsaw puzzle piece is an essential first step in finding and establishing long-term satisfying personal relationships.”
Dr. Almeleh defines a friend as “someone whose company you enjoy.” Why do we enjoy a friend’s company? It is because s/he is very much like ourselves; with similar interests, values, cultural background, intelligence, humor, etc. Using the jigsaw puzzle piece model, Almeleh argues that “if your friend’s puzzle piece resembles yours, then your puzzle piece resembles your friend’s.”
This, the good doctor concludes, “is the major point of this book. ... It takes time to find friends. Have the courage to approach and socialize with people you’re somewhat attracted to as a possible friend. You may find that a friend’s friend may be better suited to your as a friend than your initial friend.”
That is, if the pieces fit.
What about romantic relationships? Here Dr. Almeleh agrees with the notion that opposites attract, “that is, opposite personality character traits create a sexual chemistry.” Applying his jigsaw puzzle thesis to romantic relationships, he defines a stable romantic relationship as “two jigsaw puzzle pieces that fit together, or are complementary on one side of the puzzle pieces, but are similar in shape on the sides of the puzzle pieces that don’t interlock. Thus, the pair of puzzle pieces would have the characteristics of both a sexual attraction as well as a friendship.”
Dr. Almeleh is quick to point out that “the jigsaw puzzle models of relationships - both for friendships and romantic relationship - are the same for both gay and straight individuals.”
Almeleh admits that since “men, due to genetic factors, are inherently more sexually driven than women, we would expect to see more frequent sexual activity among gay male couples compared to straight couples.” Even so, the doctor emphasizes, “in a gay romantic relationship the same factors determine the choice of a life partner and the stability of a romantic relationship as in a straight relationship. It is important to remember that a romantic attachment is primarily an emotional attachment. And it doesn’t matter whether the individual is straight or gay.”
Finding The Right Pieces is a quick and easy book to read; only 80 pages but chock-full of useful information. Whether this book will help you find your new best friend or the love of your life is anyone’s guess. Whatever the consequences, Dr. Almeleh’s ideas will give you plenty of food for thought, regardless of whether your puzzle piece fits.