• October 27, 2020

Just Because You Love Someone For Who They Are, That Doesn’t Mean They’re Perfect For You

I often see folks suffering from this kind of confusion. You can get confused here in at least two basic ways.

Here’s the first. You have peak experiences with someone. There is an enticing chemistry. There is a particular way this person can see you that you haven’t experienced before. You share a passion together like art, music, spiritual practice, or a love of nature. There are moments when everything drops away to reveal love. You imagine that one or more of these things is enough to sustain your relationship.

These experiences are an important part of a lasting partnership. Unfortunately they are not enough to sustain a relationship long term. There is the practicality of daily life. Here you need to have some basic things in common like lifestyle values (e.g., daily priorities, how to handle money, long term goals, relationship to stuff and home, use of mood altering substances, etc.) and some sense of agreement about how to handle difficulty. You can deeply love someone, yet if these things are not in place the road ahead will likely be very difficult.

For the second basic confusion, you have some of the peak experiences listed above, and you even have in common many lifestyle values, and yet there is something major missing. There is some way you want your partner to show up that she or he isn’t.

Often this has to do with a level of vulnerability or personal growth. You see so much potential in your relationship and in this person. You keep making requests of him or her hoping you can bring forward this potential or this willingness to be more vulnerable. You have the sensation of longing and sometimes pulling at your boyfriend/girlfriend. He or she may be saying things like, “You want me to be someone I’m not.” Or he or she may attempt to make you the problem, saying that you have too many needs or that you ask too much and that you should just be happy with the way things are.

Tragically when I encounter this in couples I work with, I can hear that one partner is sending the message (albeit indirectly) that she or he cannot come forward in the way the other is asking. However, the attachment to having it work out is so strong that these messages aren’t heard.

You can love someone for who they are and still make many requests to have your needs met in new or different ways. If she or he is responsive, the two of you can learn to love and support each other in ever more subtle and deep ways.

You can love someone for who they are and know that he or she is not a good partner for you. You recognize that there is a lack of commonality in some fundamental approaches to life.

Lastly, you can also love someone for who they are and make many requests that are really asking for a lot of personal growth or vulnerability which he or she cannot access at that time. Understanding this you can let yourself grieve and lovingly leave the partnership or examine whether there is a way you and your partnership can thrive without this change.

The message I am hoping you hear is that your ability to love someone is not in conflict with your hope for personal growth or behavioral change. There is only for you to get clear about which is which and act in harmony with what’s true.

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