No, relationships never, ever begin at maturity. This is a mistake that I have fallen into time and again, presuming that we, the both of us, begin at altitude instead of at ground level.
Example: Two adults meet, fall in click, figure they can make it work, and attempt to do so. The assumption of both parties is that the other is working from a framework of similar snapshots, that the beginning is clear.
What we actually have is two individuals with backgrounds, peers, modeling, assumptions, understandings, biases, visions and expectations that are at best hidden, and at worst unacknowledged.
So the beginning is clear on one level, the attraction part. But what of the rest? It’s akin to planting two flowers side-by-side thinking they’ll thrive in the same soil. One, however, is a rose, the other is a cactus; how to mesh those two?
Sure, they both have spiky bits, which might or might not be a similarity worth pursuing. But is the commonality worthy of ignoring the differences? Should Miss Piggy really be dating Kermit?
Two muppets is a lighthearted and worthwhile locus. If we humble ourselves, agree to start afresh, resonate to the discovery, things might turn out differently.
There’s no telling when it will happen, but it will happen. The person you chose will reveal their most annoying habit, that one reservoir of behavior that will push your button every time.
Good dating protocols will prevent the worst of this, but everyone has a pool of stuff we’re gonna hate. Knowing that you dislike people who are dismissive of servants or road ragers or enjoy launching zingers is one thing; choosing to not couple with them is another. And yet one more thing is discovering that the person sleeping next to you has, out of nowhere, found an entirely new way to raise your blood pressure and prepare you for war.
This is the risk of coupling, the stuff we think we can extrapolate from what we’ve observed, but cannot truly know until we’re committed. That’s the downside of accepting the upside and downside of someone.
My advice is simple: you must face them with your rage. In your weekly “No Repercussions Chat” or at the time you have predetermined you can open up to each other, you must vocalize what’s happening. If you don’t, it means you don’t care about yourself, your other half nor your relationship.
Talking about what launches your emotions has a funny way of muting them thereafter. And what do you have to lose? Nothing.
Rodney Dangerfield’s signature line was “I don’t get no respect!” He made disrespect amusing, but close-up life is a little different.
Our toss-about subject today revolves around figuring the place of respect and respectfulness in couplehood. Where does respect lie wrt the priorities of men and women? How important is knowing each other’s boundaries and trigger points? Does it change over time?
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Ego is the barrier between us and seeing the other. By the other, I mean the other person, specifically the one with whom we’re contemplating coupling.
When we list out the qualities we admire – and desire – in others, oftentimes the result is a compendium of who we think we are. We all look at our own constituent parts and think hey, this is the good side of me, I want someone who is similar to this.
It makes complete sense. You and I both feel that we’re alright, that we’re sufficiently individual with our neuroses, predilections, biases and slants…that we’re worthwhile and that’s something to aim for in a coupling partner.
But is that true? Do I really want me in a dress? Am I best served by finding someone who mirrors me in a female way, and in doing so will mesh beautifully?
Ego stands in the way of finding who someone who fits in real life because we’re all resistant to accepting different ways of looking at life, and especially different ways of looking at us. Self-protection is a fundamental human quality. It’s a personal affront (but a critical element of good couplehood) to live with another viewpoint of everything we hold dear; which is code for “living with someone who sees the good and the bad”.
But living side-by-side with someone who sees us clearly – the good, the bad and especially the ugly – will ultimately be our making. A bargain with another person who wants to link with us but is both clear-sighted and affectionate results in something bigger than us both.
I am wrong.
You are wrong.
The person we think we want to meet doesn’t really exist. There are many, many individuals with whom we can form a mutually satisfying and enriching couple. The mirage we create in our minds is not one of them.
Intellectualism and fantasy are the enemies of a good life; let’s not indulge them, shall we?