We fall in love with our partner because of so many things. Their attitude, their caring, their integrity, the way they make us feel. The list is too long to put here. But, what about those things we’re not a fan of? Or that our partner isn’t a fan of in us?
If you haven’t already, be sure to head over and read part 1 of this series of posts (this is part 7), in particular the Introduction section that puts this into a bit of a larger context, and gives a couple of disclaimers (like, for instance, assuming that I’m talking about a specific person or persons in these posts.) Even if you don’t read the rest of that post, read the Introduction. This isn’t just about a single person in my life, and it’s not about men or women. While it happened to a guy, and it’s being told by a guy, you can change “he” and “she” to any gender you like, and it still fits.
Why Can’t You Just Be Who I Want You To Be?
I think it goes without saying we should probably just accept people how they are, and call it good. I mean, really, we show up, come into someone’s life, and expect them to change. Well, I say “we” as to mean “some of you”.
Now, there are some things that are pretty much a given. For instance: if you give your word to do something, your partner expects you to keep that word. That’s just expectations of the idea of someone’s word being their bond. So, let’s take that out of the equation entirely. In fact, you could put a lot of things in that category – most people would expect their partner to be loyal, trustworthy, caring,
I’ll be honest: there are some people I’ve met that don’t seem to pick partners based on those attributes. They’ll go for “looks” or “good sex”, but ignore if the person has that whole loyalty thing going on. And then pitch a fit when someone who cheated on their significant other cheats on them. It’s like watching High School level drama playing out on Facebook when it happens. Because, well, it’s pretty common for that to end up playing out in a public setting.
Generally, though, we at least learn enough about our potential significant others to figure out if they’re going to fit the model of things we want. We don’t go out and get someone who’s know for being abusive, and then try and reform them. Though, again, I’ve seen people go out and get someone they view is “broken”, and try and fix them. Not a very healthy lifestyle choice.
Even if we do select the perfect partner who matches all those things, they’re not a static set of attributes. Over time, we all change. It’s part of human nature. Sometimes it’s big reinventions of ourselves, sometimes it’s small gradual changes. And if we didn’t change at all, that would be pretty sad. We’d expect our partners to be like we expect our politicians to be: always supporting exactly the same ideas, no matter what new information they receive. (Seriously – it’s always fascinated me that we expect politicians to support exactly the same stuff they supported five years earlier. I want my elected representatives to be able to process new information, and deal with platforms based on that. Otherwise, why do we even bother having discussions over topics like Global Climate Change except for when it’s election time?)
I’ve blogged before on the fact that we slowly change when we partner up with someone. Given time, we’re not quite the same person we were before. We learn our partners likes and dislikes, and our partner learns ours. We may not change drastically, but some of our edges smooth out was both parties desire to fit together just a little bit better. It’s a natural thing, and it’s cool when it works.
All that comes with the downside that we’re never going to know who our partner is going to really be in, say, 50 years. They could be completely different than they are now. Or they could have that same core values, but have learned and evolved based on external data. Or, they may have just sanded out all the rough edges so they fit better. It’s impossible to tell.
Even I’ve made this mistake before. One of the relationships I had that problem with I really wanted her to be less angry, and yell less frequently. Somehow, I thought she’d grow out of it, or that it was something I could help her with. Truth is, I shouldn’t have accepted that in my life if I had that much of a problem with it. Otherwise, well… I’m pretty accepting of my significant others. Yes, everyone has something they grouse about to their closest friends at some point, but generally speaking: I’ve been lucky in the fact that my significant others were people I accepted for themselves, flaws and all, and had no desire to change.
Now, I’ve once seen me accused of not wanting to be with someone because they were “fat” – also not something that I’m concerned with. If they want to lose weight, I’ll support and help them anyway they want. Otherwise, if they’re good with who they are, then why should I expect them to change for me? It’s just seems… logical.
All of that fluff up there to explain something very simple: this is one of those things I don’t understand. I won’t defend cheating, screaming and yell, and similar acts. But, in many ways, I can understand their origins. Yelling and screaming can come from anger, for instance. But… changing someone seems illogical compared to the rest of it. One of the reasons why my “who I’d build a relationship requirements” list keeps getting longer is because I continue to refine what I feel is most optimal. But, if I accept someone for who they are, and let them be part of my life, it doesn’t matter if they’re optimal, and I’m not going to ask them to change. If they want to change, and they want help, I’d do everything I can.
That’s a whole lotta words I used there when talking about abuse without actually saying anything was abuse. There’s two reasons for all this blather: First, in many ways, it’s me digging through my memories in each one of these posts, asking myself: am I guilty of this? Have I done this to someone else? And, if so, why? I know I’m no saint – but I want to know myself better, and make sure the things that have injured me don’t injure others. I have desired my partners to be happy – though, I realize that’s the wrong word: I’d like them to be content with themselves, or help them become content with themselves if possible. But, even that is asking them to change.
Secondly, this is one of those things where it, unto it’s self, isn’t really abusive. Abuse requires hurt and fear. But, it’s a reason for some people to be abusive. “If only you were more…” is something I’ve heard yelled at volume (well, usually something more like “Goddamnit, I fucking wish you were more…” is actually more appropriate), and something I’ve heard said as a small barb said in a conversational tone from time to time. One of those little papercuts, done over and over until it leaves a scar that you might not notice. It’s just another damned excuse – which segues into the next part.
I’m lucky, though: I’ve yet to encounter someone who wanted to change me completely, and set about doing it. There’s a part of me that knows, at one point in my life, I probably would have tried to do it. I did change things about myself for the sake of others, but not as drastically as it could have been. Now? Take me as I am, bumps, bruises, and all.