"The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them." - Thomas Merton
In the past week I have had several mini conversations with people in rocky relationships – at stages varying from brand new to eighth time around – and in each case the person claims to be committed to the relationship while simultaneously considering ending the relationship if something does not change. And of course, the something that needs to change is the behavior of the significant other. The funny thing about all the mini convos I had is that each person instead having the conversation with me suggested that I write about it. So, first of all, thanks for the lead. And now, my thoughts.
You are not committed. Own it.
You may be exclusive. You may be monogamous. You may even want to be committed one day. But if breaking up is an option then you are not committed. When you are in a relationship and you are committed. Like seriously committed. Like “committed committed” then unless there is cheating, beating or Decalogue 6-10, breaking up is not an option.
You are committed. That means you are determined to stay together and weather every storm. You accept the behavior that you appreciate; you tolerate the behavior that you do not appreciate; you reject the behavior that is detrimental to the foundation of the relationship and you press on. Worse case scenario, you wake up one morning to the realization that your significant other is a dud and you accept that you are committed to a dud and you work hard to make the best of it while secretly hoping that they disappear mysteriously one day. But breaking up is not an option.
But breaking up is an option.
Because you are not committed. And that’s cool. Just own it. Own the fact that you have chosen not to fully commit. Own the fact that you have chosen to be in a relationship with an exit clause. Own the fact that you have chosen to make your likes, dislikes, desires and/or vision of how things are supposed to be greater than the relationship itself. Because once you own your lack of commitment, then the questions can begin. Like…
Why are you still dating a dud?
Why haven’t you broken up already?
Why are you trying to change this dud instead of moving on?
What’s really going on with you?
The short answer to all these questions is thirst. You need to own that too.
I remember going into work one day parched as hell and going into the fridge, I found an orange drink juice box. I grabbed it, took a sip and almost gagged because the drink was nasty. It was like orange flavored aspirin. My coworker saw me and was like, “those are nasty as hell.” I agreed, then proceeded to drink three of them. Cause I was thirsty. And as I held the third drink box, I realized the analogy. For many people, their current significant other is very much like this drink box. Nasty and undesirable but doable because of an extreme thirst. (Of course there is always water but in this analogy water would be like being single, right?)
If you’re thirsty, that’s cool. Own it. Own the fact that it’s you who wants something so bad that you’re willing to date a dud to get it. Own the fact that it was you and your thirst that got you into this position and now it’s you – not the dud – that has to get you out. Because in my opinion, it’s not the dud’s fault. Duds exists.
Duds date. And the truth of the matter is that this person may only be a dud by your standards. You know the whole one person’s trash is another person’s treasure thing. I also think that if your significant other is a dud now, there is a good chance they were a dud when you met them. And chances are you saw the Red Flags of a Dud, but you ignored them because of your thirst. And so the reality of the situation is that now you are exclusive and monogamous with a dud and you want to the dud to change when this whole situation is your doing. Now that’s not cool. Furthermore, the dud will not change as long as you’re exclusive and monogamous. Why would a dud do more for that which they already receive? Why buy a large cup when there’s free refills?
My advice is poop or get off the pot. Fully commit or move on. And no matter what you decide to do, own your thirst. Mange your thirst. Stop letting your thirst get you into relationships to which you cannot fully commit. Stop letting your thirst find issues with someone that might be alright. And if your thirst is so great that you are willing to drink LeBron James’ bath water, tell your significant other all about it. Make it very clear where you are, what you want and that you want it right now. That way the dud has a chance to make the conscious decision to fully commit to you AND your thirst and own that decision.
Ownership is key.
Remember. No always. No never.
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