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?
Change is inevitable, and even with the best intention in the world, couples will grow closer and further apart because of it.
Are we taking on more than is reasonable when we couple-up with someone? Is all change acceptable? Are there better ways to make it work when we’re out of synch? What about discomfort created by one of us changing?
Kregg and I take a big-picture look.
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Finding someone is easy, but finding the right person is not.
A friend recently pointed out to me that she knows of women who have given up completely on the idea of finding that right person. They don’t date, look, go out or in any way make an effort to attract men.
It’s pretty easy to understand how this happens. Whether we have been priorly married or not, or had children or not, time has a way of insulating us against the invasion of outside influence. We get comfortable; content in our habits and less able (willing?) to see the advantage of the new.
That’s what’s commonly called a rut. Meeting someone with intent to couple is all about acknowledging our own incompleteness, a bittersweet truth if ever there was one. Singlehood, if chosen deliberately, is about reinforcing the notion that we don’t need another to fill in the missing parts of us.
No question about it, relationships are work. They require us to change, and they also require us to process new ways of thinking and doing things. You’d think that we’d want to always have someone with whom to explore life, but that is often uncomfortable in the short-term, even if rewarding in the long.
Whether from fatigue, exasperation, boredom or sheer lack of engagement, the intellectual progression is easy enough. What’s more difficult is silencing the inner voice. Yes, we can live alone and surround ourselves with family and friends, but the specialness of being with someone drives much of our lives. Blocking that part of ourselves sounds horrid.
The question remains: Is a life lived without coupling as good as one lived in couplehood? Furthermore, can we just block out the possibility of finding someone and call it good?