An odd thing happens when we start recognizing that our newly cherished partner has flaws or, more realistically, when we begin glimpsing their human disarray. But the problem isn’t at all that they have flaws; it’s that we want to believe that we’ve somehow finally found someone close to perfect, who won’t have the problems we’ve encountered before. But, on the contrary, I prefer to help people see that here’s the pith – and the potentially best part of the relationship – the person as he is and interacts with us. It’s exciting because it’s here where the work and deepest hope for connection can and needs to begin.
The realization of imperfection can come over the smallest thing; we notice that our partner gets withdrawn around our smart friends. We notice that he avoids paying for meals or eludes contributing the small donation at the museum. We see that, though he’s the epitome of warmth and friendliness around others, he becomes short or at times irritable when we’re alone. Or you see that she gets uncomfortable when she’s not the one getting her way.
So far, no alarms necessary, though we often start foreclosing; labeling something as an intrinsic part of her as opposed to being one of the areas in which this person may simply have never had better learning models. And so we may mistakenly decide ‘we’re not compatible’, ‘we have no chemistry’, ‘he’d never be able to care enough about my needs’, ‘she’s too selfish’, and so on.
In certain instances, those assumptions may prove to be accurate. But in the majority of cases, they simply reflect our differing humanities, the differing ways we’ve failed to learn better attitudes or behaviors. The key factors as to whether there’s more to be explored and simply worked through are:
– Do both people have some readiness/desire to look at themselves as well as the other, and
– Are they willing to start to talk about what they’re noticing in ways that are cleanly honest, non-assumptive and non-accusatory.
When people can do this, and when they’ve already got the basis of affection, care and attraction, it’s fundamentally true that any relationship can and will grow from there.
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