The Watchtower of Destruction: The Ferrett's Journal - Love, But Verify
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Love, But Verify|
One of my best friends in town is pushy. He never means to be, but he came from a household where he was encouraged to ask, enthusiastically, for everything he wanted – so when you go out to a restaurant with him, he’ll strongly suggest what you might like to order from the menu, based on what he would like to taste.
Now, before you go, “What a jerk,” keep in mind that he is also the most giving, loving friend you could possibly ask for. Got a problem at three in the morning? He’ll be there. And, as a saving grace, he takes a strong “No” without complaint, so once you’re smart enough to go, “I’m not having the scallops, Ken,” he backs off without a word and never takes it personally. He just feels – and perhaps not incorrectly – that if he wants something, it never hurts to ask.
Still. It means you have to be aware of my friend’s foibles. If you’re going on vacation with him (as we have), you will spend every day doing what he wants unless you speak up and go, “No, I am not interested in another wine tour. We’re going to the docks instead.” And then everything is wonderful, as once he gets to the docks he will be cheerful and happy and probably buy you dinner.
You might think this is an indictment of my friend, having to act differently around him. But this kind of altered behavior is something I do for every close friend I have. Because they’ve all got their weak spots.
D means well when he promises things, but never follows up. K will disappear for months on end when she finds a new boyfriend. B needs to be the smartest person in the room or he’ll get pissy. N gets uncomfortable whenever you discuss deep emotional topics.
Hell, Gini has those warnings for me. F gets snappy when he’s neck-deep in a tough work problem. F has six weeks out of the year when he’s useless. F will argue you senseless if you concentrate on the logic of your argument as opposed to discussing how his action make you feel.
To be aware of, and react accordingly to, your friends’ negative traits, is not a betrayal of friendship. It’s reality.
Which is tough, especially for people in deeply dysfunctional families who were taught, “You never speak badly of us.” What gets internalized is this fucked-up lesson that “If you really love someone, you won’t notice their bad points.” Which is crazy! Everyone has soft spots in their psyche, where trusting them to do X will lead you to ruin. That lesson is basically saying, “You need to fall in love with an android who will never let you down.” That’s not going to happen.
So what they do instead is shove aside reality. They date someone who’s bad at paying the rent but act as though their partner was going to come through this time, then wonder why they’re living in squalor.
Look. It’s a more honest act of love to look at someone and say, “Yes, she’s terrible at paying the bills, but I love her.” Loving someone doesn’t mean slapping on blinders and running into things; it means going, “Okay, if we move in together, I’m going to have to make the sacrifice of taking control of the finances, because she can’t do it.” Which gets even more complex if your partner really thinks she’s quite GOOD at paying the bills despite the copious evidence otherwise… But that’s part of negotiating a solid relationship.
There’s this whole attitude of love where saying bad things about your lover means you’re a bad person – and yes, if you’re bitching more than you’re adapting, then you’re probably not that nice. But you can be realistic and be deeply in love. You can commit, wholeheartedly, to someone who’s not perfect . And it is not a betrayal to go, “Okay, this is something I know they won’t do, so I’ll either do it myself or find a way to get around that.”
Gini loves me more than any lover ever has. She also knows I’ve got a lot of bad points. Her real love comes not from ignoring those flaws, but in circumventing and reshaping them. Because I’m human, as is everyone we’re ever going to date, and flaws don’t mean you’re unworthy of love.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.
This entry has also been posted at http://theferrett.dreamwidth.org/220880.html. You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.
Oh gods yes. I love this.
My BFF is loud and talks more in movie quotes than I do - it gets old when you know certain things are going to elicit the same response every damn time. But I have called her at ungodly hours and she has been there. She has supported me through the most difficult times of my life and I *know* I can count on her.
I have another close friend who I know exaggerates most of what she says. I think of it as translating her speech to English. If she says, "it took us FIVE HOURS to do this thing," it most likely took two or three or she wasted time in the middle doing something else or...yeah. It's almost never as bad or dramatic as she makes it sound. But again, she has been there for me, is honest with me when I ask tough questions, and is an amazing friend.
I guarantee E would tell you how bitchy and judgmental I can be. And I would counter with some of her faults (though there are amazingly few of them). But I doubt that's the first thing she'd say about me and I certainly do not define her by her faults either.
To me, it's about priorities - I can deal with someone's faults if their good points outweigh the bad. If you've proven yourself to be a good person to me, you can get away with a lot and I will forgive almost anything.
I have _no_ friends who are not a pain in the arse sometimes. And that's fine, because they put up with _me_ being a pain in the arse sometimes.
Yup. I'm a catastrophic pain! Thanks for loving me, guys!
I live through this with every human and most animals who cross my path. The "putting oneself" in their shoes thing. It helps me empathize, and keeps my agita at a manageable pitch.
|Date:||June 19th, 2012 03:23 pm (UTC)|| |
Reminds me of two things:
1) It isn't whether you can trust someone or not. It is what you can trust them with.
2) I notice most people break up at around 'Year 2'. That is the point in time where couples begin to need to accommodate and make sacrifices for each other - it's the real test on whether or not a relationship can work out. Either you'll find that you can deal with each other's foibles and do a mental shift to work with the other, or you'll find out you can't, and you'll both be miserable if you push on.
Interesting take. It's been said that there are several breakpoints of a relationship - three weeks, six months, two years, seven years, and twenty-one, IIRC - and if you can get past all of those chokepoints you've got it made.
I wonder if anyone's written a book on that.
This is so damn wise, Ferrett, and so true. I wish more people got this.
thank you for putting what i've known for a bit into solid words.
oh so very much YES YES YES!!! i'm no perfect diamond, either, and even after 13 years knowing each other and four years living together, last night TheEngineer and i found a major miscommunication. he was upset about something, and i could absolutely see his point and didnt have an issue with it...but he had never SAID "i would like this" so i had no idea. and gently pointed it out that "yes, i could see that would be nice, but sweetheart, if you dont TELL me you want something, i dont know. as we both know, neither of us are mind-readers."
thank you. a LOT of people dont understand that part of loving someone.
preston and i are so bad about that with each other. you'd think after twenty years we'd have a clue. but we keep plodding on.
but if you love each other, that's WHY you keep plodding on. when things are fairly good except for occasional blips on the radar screen, you can just let go of a lot of stuff.
my mama says that's how she's made it to 50 years with my dad. :)
additionally one must decide id those flaws are ones they can or cannot get past!
Yup. Nothing wrong with a good solid dealbreaker. But you have to know it exists first.
|Date:||June 19th, 2012 07:02 pm (UTC)|| |
So strange that J and I had a conversation about just this last night--about how if you go into a relationship thinking the other person is perfect (i.e., 'super' human) you end up sticking yourself in this situation in which then you can't have faults or be human. Which has happened to both of us. But we've all got baggage and ugliness and stuff to carry around. I think real/mature love is looking at those faults and thinking that rather than run from the baggage, you help the other person carry it, and they help you carry yours.
Personally, I'm not even sure I'd call most of those things flaws. They're just qualities. So-and-so can't pay bills on time? If she lives on her own, it's her problem--if I've made the choice to live with her, then I'll be in charge of all the bills because I've decided her company is worth the bother. And anyway, at that point I'm the one taking care of the bills for MY comfort and peace of mind, not for her.
So-and-so exaggerates, or constantly make extravagant promises they can't keep? Again, I'm not even sure I'd call these "faults." It's just how they are, and a key part of interacting with them is simply knowing that when he promises to take you to Maui next summer, smile and nod and never give it another thought and make your own vacation plans.
They're flaws. The fact that you say "It's her problem" indicates that yes, it's a problem, and hence a flaw.
Now, "being flawed" isn't as terrible as it says, because there's this societal pressure that says "FLAWED PEOPLE ARE WORTHLESS," to which many react by saying, "Well, then these aren't flaws!" But they are. Flawed people are people. Perfect people are androids.
So true...I think I'll link this if that is okay with you. Honestly we all have faults and its just a matter of finding someone who loves us enough to be willing to work with those faults.
Linking is always okay, and especially from you.
So true--we don't overlook or ignore our friends' weak points, we love them anyway (and hope for the same in return).
Oh I am definitely that kind of ask-y person, I never was until I moved to LA, and realized that, yanno, there's a lot here for the asking, but you never see it if you don't ask. You also have to learn to take no for an answer and not take it personally (or rather, recognize when it IS personal and deal with it appropriately). But learning to be told no, it also kinda... made it a lot easier to take other people's quirks in stride.
I actually ended up thanking G the other day, I was like, "Thank you for just letting me be in a "bad" mood and not trying to cheer me up, because really, I'm fine, I'm just prickly and thinking about what I'm writing and when you try to make me act like a *normal* happy person, it takes brain power and then I really do get pissed off."
Gini and I have done that "Thanks for letting me pissy" thing a lot. It helps.
*nodnodnodnodnod* I SO SO SO agree with this.
I know C's blind spots, and I try to always help him avoid the pitfalls therein. He does the same for me. (My biggest issue being that I will drive myself into the ground to help those I love.)
a friend redirected me here with a link.
great post. :D
If you're going on vacation with him (as we have), you will spend every day doing what he wants unless you speak up and go, "No, I am not interested in another wine tour. We're going to the docks instead." [...] You might think this is an indictment of my friend, having to act differently around him.
This quote is seriously freaking me out. What do you do with your other friends? How do you ever get what you want if you don't just say "no, I would like to do [X] instead of [Y]"?
It seems like your friend is practicing the kind of communication that is fetishised in poly and BDSM communities, except you're calling it "pushy". So because that's also how I communicate, I really want to know--what the hell else should he do? He's telling people what he wants and accommodating other people's wishes gracefully.
He could start with "What would everyone like to do today? I'd like to go on a wine tour (but I'm open to suggestion)." I think it's phrasing it as an option, rather than a decision. However I don't know the specifics of Ferret's friend, I don't know if it is decisive language or if it's slightly more facilitation of options :)
|Date:||June 20th, 2012 10:45 pm (UTC)|| |
I may be quite the same way, but slightly different. I try not to push things, but have eaten at more restaurants in my town than anyone else and ordered across the menu so can guess what someone might like. So I offer a plethora of suggestions rather than two or three which makes deciding all the harder. Occasionally I mix an idea saying "the pizza three blocks south is much better" but I know what I like, and some days am willing to try to edge people into choosing my place.
|Date:||June 21st, 2012 11:47 pm (UTC)|| |
Completely incidentally to the main point of the post, the "argue you senseless if you concentrate on logic" is my problem too. Except in my love relationship, it's not an allowance my partner will make for me, but rather something I have to learn to stop doing.
Okay, maybe not so incidental to the main point after all-- when do you make allowances and when do you require the other to change?
Boy, if there was an easy answer to that one, I'd have written an entry on it by now. AND NEVER HAD A BREAKUP AGAIN.
|Date:||June 22nd, 2012 09:48 pm (UTC)|| |
Your life sounds like an episode of Big Bang Theory.