Whenever we get angry, upset or disappointed about the state of our love lives, it is the optimist in us that gets frustrated. What we hoped and what it is have less in common than a unicorn and a donkey.
The writer Alain de Botton, founder of the School of life, considers that what will improve our love lives and general happiness is to stop looking for the right person. We have to look for the good enough person.
We tend to think that when a relationship fails is because of the other person’s flaws, moral shortcomings and incapacity to recognize the wonderful persons that we are.
In reality, we are all difficult persons to live with. The less we know ourselves and accept our own flaws, the less chances there are to have long and healthy relationships.
We can agree with Alain the Botton when he says that love is so difficult because it forces us to do something we really don’t want to do: say to another human being “I need you”, “I’m vulnerable in front of you”.
People tend to have 2 types of reactions when dealing with their partners, both of them learned during childhood.
We can become anxiously attached to our partner. This means that instead of truly and sincerely asking about their feelings, we get upset about trivial details. The fact that he didn’t take the garbage or that she was late becomes a catastrophe.
The second type of response is avoidance. Instead of revealing our need for our partner’s love and understanding, we chose to become distant and inflexible.
One current misunderstanding is to believe that love is an instinct, that it just magically happens. In reality love is an art. We all need to learn how to love.
And mastering this art begins with accepting that none of us are perfect. To truly love somebody means to tolerate his or her weakness, to be able to teach the other and learn from him/her.
Even the best of partners is not a soul reader. But we tend to believe that if they love us we won’t need to explain what we think, feel and need.
And if they don’t, we are disappointed and act as if they betray us.
In reality, we need to know how to explain ourselves. In return, we have to try to be generous with the explanation we give for other’s behavior.
When they are doing something strange, morally suspicious or just annoying, we should make the effort to find the kindest explanation possible and assume they are not doing it just to hurt us.
Because we tend to idealize our partners, we inevitably get disappointed when they end up being just like us, human beings.
So the wisest thing we can do is to stop ask for perfection where perfection is impossible. To learn to negotiate our shared imperfections.
Love is an achievement, an art that we develop in time, not a given.
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