I remember a time when meeting someone who was just as damaged was a bit of a relief. Everyone walking…
Like I have said before, there is a difference between what we need and what we want out of a relationship. And while those lists vary with each person, it is our job as a responsible partner to decode what those aspects are and how to identify them. See, the problem is that so many of us try and hold our boyfriends and girlfriends up to the same standards that we expect everyone else to live up to. And that simply isn’t fair. If only because every person is a new and complex list of insecurities, characteristics, and habits. Hundreds of forces that got to them before you did. Coaches, teachers, parents, grandparents, mean kids, untrustworthy fiends, disloyal girlfriends – they all scaled that wall long before you did and now you come in all late to the party and look around at the mess everyone else made and try to impose your expectations? You’re only setting yourself up for disappointment.
So what do you do then? Well, what you need to do is stand silently and look around at the mess and attempt to decode it and what you can’t understand, you need to inquire about. Because if you ever expect to help them clean up after the tornadoes of their past, you need to recognize and sympathize with their journey. You can’t just walk in and start barking orders for them to clean up the place because you don’t truly understand how that mess impacts their daily life. You don’t know if they don’t want to clean because they’re afraid of what they might find under the mess, or maybe the mess is so overwhelming that they don’t even know where to begin, or maybe they’re simply too embarrassed to allow you to see the mess out of fear that you might take off running.
And you might. But we all have a mess. A mess that came before you. A mess that you probably won’t understand, that is, unless you ask. And people who run away from a mess they don’t understand are lazy. Because if you ever want a real shot at healthy love, you have to put in the effort. No – you have to want to put in the effort. And it isn’t until you can make sense of the mess that you can accurately assess the damage. What looks like a huge mess might just be healed with a few extra hugs and a desire to listen. And what might look like a slight crack could be indicative of extensive therapy.
What I’m saying is that no one could possibly come into our lives and understand the extent of the damage that came before them and our shitty behaviors are all telltale signs of the mess we are keeping you from seeing. And maybe they don’t want us to see the mess. Maybe they’re not ready to expose the secrets. And maybe they never will be. But that is when you need to ask yourself if you’re ready, willing, and able to be a part of a relationship with someone you will never truly know. And if you’re okay with that, well then, hey, more power to you. Good luck. But if you’re like me and you absolutely need to get to the marrow of what eats the nights away from the people you kiss goodnight, then you understand how imperative that information truly is.
But two of the most important questions you will ask of a relationship are:
Do you have the ability to give my soul what it needs to thrive and are you willing to do you best at it?
And do I have the ability to decode your mess and am I willing to do my best to empathize with your broken pieces?
No one comes complete. No one comes fresh out of the package free of dents, bruises, or chips. No matter how hot they are, no matter how many degrees they earned, no matter if their parents are still in a loving marriage, no matter if they love the same bands and authors, no matter if they like the same music and fetishes – every last person you meet had their walls scaled by someone who came in and made a huge mess. And some of us have been doing our best to clean it up for years and some of us refuse to acknowledge it even exists.
But what you need to know is, you can’t clean up anyone’s mess. Oh, you’ll want to and dammit, you’ll try. But you’ll slowly kill yourself with frustration because no one will ever clean as fast as you want them to or as fast as you know they can. Because it is not your journey and if you try to fix someone faster than they want to be fixed, it will only lead to anger and resentment.
No one likes to be told to clean up their room. And when the new guy moves into the house and starts barking orders to get shit cleaned up, it only fosters animosity and pushes people away.
All we can do – all we should ever do, is ask what happened. Because the more people understand their mess the more they’re going to be willing to talk about the mess. And when you talk about the mess it has a funny way of slowly cleaning itself.
I have a mess. You have a mess. Everyone you meet and will date has a mess. And every healthy relationship consists of two people who understand the importance of communication and care about the happiness of the other.
You just need to figure out of you can be that for someone.
And if you will allow them to be that for you.