Loving someone for who they truly are requires a whole lot of work, trust, and vulnerability. It is a depth of emotional intimacy that requires a conscious choice.
Many of us unconsciously choose to fall in love with who we think they can become. It’s so much easier because our focus is always on the perfect future just around the corner and therefore we can willingly ignore what is right in front of us, that is, the true and complete nature of our newly chosen partner.
We see only what we want to see and that vision is intently focused on the tomorrows that may never come. They sparkle with such allure!
This is called falling in love with someone’s potential. We employ creative and obstinate deafness and blindness in our effort to avoid reality because reality can be hard. We have a dreamy idea of what we think we want and set about cramming our new love interest into that unyielding framework.
We insist on viewing our prospective love through the lens of our own perception which, by its very nature, is skewed, singular, and unique. Our perception is rarely 100 percent aligned with reality. We hold onto all the wonderful things we’ve learned about them and combine that with all the things we see them capable of becoming.
The facets of their being that make them flawed—and therefore human—are adroitly ignored. We become victims of our own optimism. You know what I’m talking about, “If he would only…” or “when she finally…” or “someday soon…”
When we meet Mr. or Ms. Right and they tell us that they sometimes become inaccessible, or that the longest relationship they’ve had has only been three months, we suddenly develop selective hearing.
We believe that we will be the one to change them. We are their one, true love! We are the medicine they need to cure all their ills. If they would only listen to us they would then achieve the perfection that is always just around the corner. With our firehose of loving trained on them we can cleanse them of all their flaws. They will finally have the support they need to fulfill their potential. All they have to do is believe, right?
Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” It took a while to learn the meaning of this axiom. For example: if someone lets you know they are perpetually late through words or action you don’t necessarily need to kick them to the curb. It is knowledge from which you can now make an informed choice. You may decide that you can cope with their lateness habit and agree to make certain compromises, or you may call it a day and continue your search for Mr. or Ms. “Always On Time.” There is no blame, shame, or judgment on either side when the truth is on the table. It is simply information.