“I can’t stand her!!” Then why are you with her? “Because I love her!”
The truth is, if you didn’t love her it would not have bothered you. In basic terms of reality she was just someone who was running late and was so caught up in her work concerns that she forgot say goodbye to you before she ran out the door. But because of your connection to her, she is suddenly a selfish person who puts her work before your relationship. And before that she was lazy because she fell asleep while doing the wash, and now all the clothes are still wet. And the day before, she was uncaring because she spent the night doing homework instead of hanging out when your friends came over. But despite her being so selfish, lazy, and uncaring, you still love her…somehow.
Here’s where it gets a little funky. You love someone so you unintentionally raise your expectations for them – you want them to be that person that you believe them to be, the kind of person you want to be loving. Your love puts an undue responsibility onto their shoulders that demands that they live up to your requirements for being the recipient of your love. It is because you love them that makes their actions so wonderful– or obnoxious. While some people do tend to act a certain way to be manipulative or gain attention (and hopefully you will be able to free yourself from this immature behavior), no matter what their motives are it is your choice to feel the way you do. If mom is always trying to guilt trip you for leaving the family behind in pursuit of your dreams, you can choose how you will process her words. You love mom and you will always love mom, but when she is talking about how you betrayed her, she is just a woman talking about how she wishes you felt – because in reality, that’s all it is. You can choose to process her actions negatively as manipulation, unfairness, and unloving– and feel bad about it; or you can see it neutrally and let her do her guilt-tripping until she runs out of steam. She is mom, but she is also a person whose faults that will not serve you: just as it is with anyone else. Love is power, but only in the places that you choose. You can still love but choose to be unaffected by things about them that don’t help you. That’s perfectly fine.
I know that there are habits and choices that people make that are truly detrimental to themselves and those they love, and proper measures should be taken according to case to see that they are given help and support, or left all together so you can find a healthier relationship. For purposes of this article, I am just focusing on the lesser (yet still seemingly big!) annoyances that plague human interactions of all kind.
In all romantic relationships, it is often the little innocent things that start to get to us over time. Such as how your amazing boyfriend who at one time oozed flawless charm suddenly develops a particularly annoying habit. Or you being to notice things that slowly grow worse over time: him talking about his hobbies, for example. Or the growing trash collection on his desk. Or his inability to say the right things. Could it be that these things were always there and you were so focused on his awesomeness that you failed to see them? Or is it that you became so acclimated to his uber qualities that they have diminished in your eyes, and you continue to demand more while you begin to notice his mortal weaknesses?
The truth is that if you had no idea who he was, he would just be another guy doing dude things and you wouldn’t be bothered by them. If he was just your buddy, you wouldn’t care that he happened to glance at that chick that you checked out just as much as he did. You choose to label his actions in a certain way because you feel a certain way about him. And let’s reverse it! You choose to feel a certain way about his actions because you label him a certain way. It’s a silly circle. To avoid getting drowned in this whirlpool, climb out of the water for a second and see what your love for him is demanding. He is just a guy who notices attractive women – just like all healthy guys (straight or gay!) do. He is just a guy that you have chosen to love; don’t ruin it by allowing your love to become demanding and distorted.
Is it possible that your “uncaring” girlfriend is simply a person who is concerned about finishing her essay on time? Or that your “selfish” boyfriend is a person engaging in a hobby he loves – something he’s always done but never seemed to matter until recently? Is your love for them is getting in the way of reality? Are you creating your own annoying reality for yourself? How are you reacting to something that you label as “wrong”? Do you walk out and slam the door, or give them the silent treatment, or act nonchalant and distant but claim that nothing is wrong when they ask? Could you be magnifying and creating drama out of something small that was always there?
Lots of questions, I know! But if you find yourself complaining about someone doing relatively minor things, perhaps it’s time to question yourself instead of them. You love them, right? So why do you? And why should the little things matter? They are their own self, just as you are a unique individual. Love doesn’t judge or nitpick or manipulate – only your own labels and expectations do.
So remember, essentially they are just a person doing their thing. Nothing more, nothing less. Love them anyway.