A few thoughts about relationships, dating, and love…

… from someone who doesn’t claim to be good at relationships.

*** This has nothing to do with art (or does it?) but Jessica’s post yesterday inspired me to write this:

Back when I lived in Seattle, I used to walk past a large mural, part of which read:

“I will always love the false image I had of you”.

It took me 20 years to really realise what that means.

I see a woman, and she’s gorgeous. We connect, start talking, start seeing each other, and over time we build a relationship.

But at some point, things start to go sour. Bickering, annoyances, less sharing and less communication…

And at some point we realise the ship has foundered, and we move on.

So what happened there? Weren’t we madly in love?

Thrilled and grateful to have discovered each other?

We were, so where did it go wrong?

I’ll tell you where.

Right at the very first moment, right when we noticed each other and were attracted.

Now, don’t misunderstand.

I’m not cynical about love, and love at first sight can happen.

But in my experience (personal as well as what I observe in other people’s relationships), we generally tend to make a big mistake.

It’s this:

We meet that person, feel this attraction because of outer aspects — can be looks, or mind, or their laughter or accomplishments… whatever it is that attracts you to someone else.

And then we start to look for confirmation of our notion that this person is really awesome.

We notice more and more things that really fire us up.

The conversations, the sex, the things we share, like hobbies and interests and friends and talents…

And by and by, we build our own version, our own perception, of who that person is.

And that view?

Is not that person. Not at all.

That doesn’t make it wrong, per se.

But if we allow that to blind us to the aspects we don’t like, or that don’t match our own way of being, we’re fooling ourselves.

I’ve done it too, over and over again.

I fall in love, and then I construct my own perfectly lovable version of that woman.

And the poor girl then has to live up to it… which is impossible, of course.

Before long, she’ll fall off her pedestal — not through any fault of her own, but because I created an image she can’t live up to.

Previously invisible annoying habits or mismatched values start becoming issues, and…

That’s how many relationships founder.

People fall in love for all kinds of reasons — it can be physical attraction (one of the easiest ones).

But really, anything that’s awesome about your, or remarkable, can be the reason someone doesn’t fall in love with the real you.

In my case?

I’m a recovering monk, 12 years in a monastery.

Imagine what a woman might think of that, how that might shape her perception.

“Oooh… how exotic! He must be such a special person!”

Which I’m not. I’m just a regular guy, a nice one (I think) with an unusual background.

But I get put on this half-saintly pedestal, and then I have to live up to that stature.

Which I can’t, because I’m as flawed as the next man, and more flawed than the one after that.

Which is why I’ve learned to not exclusively look for the way I feel about a woman — I also need to know, rationally, that the match is good.

I’m not advocating rationality — I just want to make sure it makes sense, as well as feels good.

I don’t think we should be with anyone who puts us on a pedestal, or be with someone that we put up there.

From up on a pedestal, the only way to see the other is looking down on them, and no man, woman or other ought to look up their partner in an idealised way.


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