I forget which book I read this in, but a few years back (around the time I was living in Los Angeles), I remember reading about how long-married couples often find it hard to live separate lives once divorced because a literal part of their memory bank ends up being missing. I remember at the time thinking about how true this was for me and how I often rely on a partner's own memories and knowledge of a specific topic to work alongside my own memory strengths.
There are two different structures of a TMS—differentiated and integrated. In an integrated TMS, friends share similar knowledge and are able to reinforce or remind each other of what they know. In a differentiated TMS, they have knowledge of different things, and can consult each other like encyclopedias. The researchers found that in mixed-gender best friendships, TMSs were more likely to be differentiated, while in same-gender best friendships, they were more likely to be integrated. But regardless of the gender makeup, the systems were equally strong.
In the last few weeks, I've come face to face with the absence of this memory network and I find myself struggling at times to fill in memory gaps or knowledge of where/how to find certain information. I know based on past experience that this is never permanent, but it doesn't minimize how sucky it is to suddenly lose that transitive memory system. More specifically, it sucks to not have the other half of the story concerning 2 year's worth of photos. I've always hated having files deleted, but I think this time around, I'd gladly taken deleted files over lost stories from my other half. I'm sure I'll find a way. What did I do the last time this happened? I think I talked to my cats a lot (Tygra and Pepper, I miss you!).