Our Perspective Is Everything

 Although we may find some routines and routine behaviors annoying, when it comes to the people we care about, we are willing to overlook these annoyances.

I anticipate some condescending feedback on my stereotyping, but I'd like to go into a topic that interests me and many of my friends and acquaintances. If you've ever ended a relationship only to find yourself quickly smitten by someone else, you know that it's not uncommon to find that your ex's worst traits are eerily replicated in your new flame. And it could not be because we're bound to make the same mistakes over and over again until we finally get it right (enough with that boring, old myth) but rather because they're associated with different sex@es.

This is exactly what happened to me when I ended a relationship of three decades. I quickly picked up on his extreme awkwardness around talking about his feelings for me or using the "R" word, his preconceived notions about the role he thought I should play in his life, and the deer-in-the-headlights expression he gave me. These are "simply manly stuff," as many of the ladies in my life have put it.

It goes without saying that there are always exceptions. But after experiencing a number of brief romances, I began to recognize a number of these tendencies among men my age; it seems to reason that my ex would have seen parallels in the woman he was seeing. We are both female, so perhaps we are more comfortable sharing our emotions than he is. Alternatively, we may spend an extra five minutes primping before heading out the door because we care more about our looks. Horrors. I sometimes wonder if he was originally troubled by these things or if he simply decided to ignore them, and I often wish I could have been a fly on the wall to see for myself.

Certainly, that is a thought-provoking query. And as my best friend often tells me, "perspective is everything."

My previous significant other found me to be excessively talkative, whereas my current and future companions have described me as reserved and solemn. According to what I've heard, my ex's new girlfriend talks a lot more than I do, and he seems to like it. Similarly, my ex was often telling me that I wasn't physically fit enough for him, despite the fact that I hike for larger distances at least three times a week, walk for an hour every day, and am still the same size I was in 1984, when we first met and he apparently thought me beautiful. He knows that the lady he's chosen to be his new partner isn't an outdoorsy type, and he's okay with it. In contrast to how badly I wanted to find a new camping buddy after we broke up, she had never owned a backpack in her whole life. It wasn't a dealbreaker for him, and they had been hiking together for thirty years, so he didn't see it as one. While I still hold out hope of meeting a guy my age who wants to put on a backpack and escape into the San Juans for a week, he now backpacks with our kids, and not as frequently as he'd like.

For the individuals we choose to love, we are willing to bend the rules. For example, if someone loves you, they won't say things like, "My God, would you put a sock in it!" when you snore.

We don't choose to love someone just because they don't have any of the characteristics on our "don't-like" list.

A few males I went with with recently have been in committed relationships with emotionally unstable women. It's frustrating that I can't find a loving spouse, especially because many guys I consider to be wonderful spend years with women who trash their possessions and credit without addressing the men's underlying mental health and addiction issues. This led me to wonder "why," so I began inquiring.

A shrug and the statement "We had a lot of nice moments, and when she was doing well, she was a lot of fun" was the usual response.

It makes me question if people who ask for "no drama" in their online dating profiles actually mean it. Absolutely, when it comes to those we care about the most, we can bend the rules. But don't we also need to establish certain safe limits?

The answer, in my opinion, is yes. Here is a basic truth I've discovered in nearly forty years of adulthood, though:

When we love someone really, we feel and develop a readiness to give of ourselves again and over again during the course of our time together.

We're just acting on our own will because we want to please the person we've decided to love. An advantage of being loved is that our spouse will not constantly judge us harshly for our flaws.

This trait is indicative of a loving relationship, and its absence tells us we are not valued: when we are held to an unrealistic standard out of fear of criticism or loss, we are condemned to disappointment.

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