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We love truly when we open our eyes

We love truly when we open our eyes

When starting a relationship, one of the strongest mutual desires is to be true to each other. Without keeping silent and hiding skeletons in a closet.

Already at the first encounter, I want to tell the other more than I need to reveal – to lay out all the cards and open my soul. To avoid wasting time on slowly discovering the other's personality if it suddenly turns out that some of the details of the potential partner's past or present life are unacceptable: divorce, conviction, children, chronic illness, or religious beliefs. Especially at the age of thirty, when fuzzy stories with vague rules and open finals are no longer of much interest – if you don’t have a clear intention at the very beginning, why even start?

Here, the disarming openness of the first conversations also arises – look, I was injured here, I have a burn here, but here, a deep cut scar that occasionally opens and bleeds, and then I tend to turn on myself for several days, shrug my forehead and don't want to be touched.

If we are not afraid of what a potential partner has discovered, the relationship moves to a new level. Every moment, we witness each other's actions that reveal both the beautiful and the wrong in each of us. In each particular case, we decide whether we will develop the relationship further or whether this is the point to turn to and walk away from.

It is normal for us to realise after a while that we have made a mistake and the connection needs to be broken. Unless you suffer from a chronic inability to stay in a relationship, there is no need to try nurturing something rotten in the middle. By chronic inability to stay in a relationship, I mean the habit of running away from them at the first difficulties.

The smallest problem, a hint of conflict, a superficially raised eyebrow or not the right intonation, and you run away without giving the other one a chance to explain. In such a lifestyle, love must be trouble-free and a partner – understanding and accepting of everything. Because this is what the myths of “perfect” love teach us. But you know what's wrong with expectations like this? There is no partner. It's just you.

It is normal to want to be comfortable and enjoy the relationship, especially if it has been sad and hard before. But expecting your partner to meet your desires perfectly and one hundred per cent means expecting the impossible from them. Even if they change for you with the greatest pleasure, they won't wake up as another person the next day and won't change with a snap, even if they want to.

And that's where one of the most difficult adaptation tasks in a relationship comes in – removing the veil from the eyes so that you can see without fear, idealization and anticipation who's next to you and see their differences. To see them now, not in a few years, when it will “suddenly” turn out to be an unpleasant surprise.

Yes, your partner is different, for example, if only because they are of a different gender. Because they grew up in a different family. Because there were other people around them. It's normal for someone you love to read different books (or not read them at all), laugh at different jokes, dislike holding hands, or talk a lot. However, if this person is important to you, then these differences should also be treated with respect, without trying to redo the other to your liking.

Love is not about the perfect contour. On the contrary, it's about growing and getting out of line creatively.

There are a few recommendations that will help you not to hurt yourself and your partner when it comes to differences:

  • Do not think that your partner, because of the expression on your face or being silent, will understand that they are doing something you do not like, and they need to stop it and do it differently. No one can read thoughts, and neither is it necessary. If something is caught in the eye, it is better to say it gently and tactfully than to accumulate internal irritations and resentments.
  • Don't belittle each other's needs that make them feel loved. If a woman feels loved when she receives flowers, don't say: “Are you serious? Flowers are the dumbest gift, it's just money thrown out in the wind!” On the contrary, notice what pleases the other and express your love through these things. Also, share exactly what pleases you the most: “I love how you cook dinner!”

  • Don't compare your partner to your ex, especially loudly. “Karl never did that” or “Linda was a goddess in the kitchen”. Not only is it painful and unpleasant but it also creates the feeling that you are not two, but three in a relationship. And the third is like an uninvited guest who can't go home and sit and drink tea in the kitchen, even though it's long past midnight.
  • There is no need to speak contemptuously about what has appeared in your partner's life before you. You may not like all this, but you don't necessarily have to tell your partner. Give yourself a chance to get a closer understanding of their choices. Try to go deeper and find out, why this friendship is so important to the partner and why they are fascinated by this occupation or this hobby – it can tell a lot about their essential needs.

At a young age, it seems that a normal relationship is when both want the same thing, think the same thing, treat everything in the same way, and even cockroaches in the head come from the same kennel. But then it turns out that it doesn't work like that – you meet a person with whom you feel very good, but they are not you. And never will be. They will be around, but they won't be the same. And it's awkward.

Any effort to change a partner is a strategic step to improve your own life.

I will underline – not to improve my partner's life, but my own. Because if we add a little bit here and remove a little bit there, we will get a fairly convenient copy for a comfortable cohabitation. With whom to celebrate the holidays, go on trips and visit mom’s garden. But it seems more like violence than love.

Each of us chooses and sticks to those ideas with which it is comfortable to live at a particular moment (then everything can change). It can be imagined figuratively as choosing a blanket on a cool evening – one covers with a wool blanket, another with a fleece blanket, the third throws on a jacket, while the fourth declares that all these blankets are illusions and freeze on the principle. Being offended that a person hasn't chosen the same blanket as you is a waste of time. 

If they are warm under it – very good. As long as they don’t try to push you and your vision of the world under their blanket – let them cover themselves with whatever they want. After all, you have your own experience, head on your shoulders, and value system. The world is multi-layered, diverse, and unpredictable, but it can and should be interacted with without the need to break yourself or anyone else. Break the system, templates, beliefs, habitual patterns of behaviour and response – but not each other.

We each live with ourselves not for the first year and are used to ourselves. It hurts us if someone taps in and requests an immediate change. Nobody likes the phrases “lose weight”, “read at least one book”, “earn more”, “become more feminine”, “become softer”, “be quieter”, and “inspire me”.

 It is frustrating to hear about where we do not reach any norm in another person's head or to the mythical “it is generally accepted”. It creates protest, resistance, rebellion, and alienation. Even if we are told something that would be valuable to listen to, we will still shut up and pretend that we do not understand what is being advised to us – on principle. This is how we defend our right to make decisions about our lives.

It is or isn’t necessary to change the name of the relationship – everyone decides for themselves because it is a matter of personal choice and taking responsibility for the consequences.

Not wanting to change is normal. Especially with age, when it becomes increasingly difficult to be flexible.

There is a piece of mixed psychological advice – if you can't change the situation, change your attitude towards it. However, it doesn't work on matters of relationship well-being. Don't try to convince yourself that the partner’s traits that irritate aren't irritating. Denying your feelings will not lead to anything good. But you can continue to live together – with a partner and with irritation, allowing yourself to feel and experience both sadness, anger and regret. 

If you share the most important values and needs with your loved one, but the secondary needs are different, then look for how you can fulfil them another way. I do not intentionally decipher what are the most important values and needs because they, like the secondary ones, can be anything – it is every personal affair to put in your life the most important priorities.

For example, for someone, a very important value is physical attraction – their own and their partner's. They will suffer if their partner is not fit. For another, time spent together is much more important. The quality of life of such a person will diminish if a loved one refuses to travel together. Even in a seemingly obvious matter like sexual trust – for some, it is fundamental, while others are open to experimentation and do not restrict each other.

But this does not mean trying to understand and accept absolutely everything and any opinion of the partner, repeating the mantra: “It is acceptable to me, it is acceptable to me, it is acceptable to me that they think this way.” No! Accept your reactions if the particular discrepancy of opinion is not critical for you, then move forward, gradually teaching yourself not to die inside each time you encounter a different vision of the world. Unless a person perceives every hint that something in themselves should be changed or somehow adapted for the sake of the relationship as an attack on their freedom and walks with a raised flag of individuality and “complex character” bravely protecting their flaws.

“I'm an artist, and I need alcohol for inspiration (or to relax), and I don't care what you or anyone else thinks about it”; “I've been impulsive and jealous since I was a child, but the fact that I break plates is just my passionate nature”; “I'm not going to clean – I haven't held a dust cloth in my hand in life, and I don't plan to, I'm made for beauty.”

In such cases, it can be shown to the partner that it can be different, you can tell about alternatives. But persuade, remake, pray, threaten, blackmail and engage in a deal with an uncertain benefit – for what?

While we make endless repairs in someone else, we slowly begin to crumble – parquet dries, plaster brushes, wallpaper peels off.

You can go to a couple’s therapy with a favourable goal to save the relationship, but if only one is on the way to change, miracles will not happen. If everything satisfies the other and they don’t want to change, unfortunately, it is not going to work out. If a partner refuses to make concessions or change something once in a while (knowing that it is hurting you), you always have the choice not to put up with it and leave. Choose other relationships. Or, in the end, choose yourself instead of agreeing to suffer the pain. This is a bitter truth, but if love requires sacrifice, it will receive it.

It is good that relationships are not slavery for life, and going out (especially today) is a familiar practice that is neither shameful nor reprehensible. “Take what is, otherwise it will be too late after that (no one will want you)” – this is an old-time philosophy. We've grown out of the restrictions of choice. Of the unions where one is right and the other is always foolish.

No one has to pay for the rigidity of others who are hurting. The choice of a partner is one, and yours is another. The consequences are as follows. Just remember that there is a relationship where there is no need to make yourself a shock absorber. And, it's normal to want the same thing for yourself.


Author: relationship mentor Zane Ozoliņa

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