Funny thing about us humans… we’re constantly changing, adapting, learning, maturing from one day to the next. Yet we remain the same. We learn more facts, go though new experiences, visit new places and change our views on just about everything but basically we are still the person we always were when it comes to our temperament, moods, personality and such.
This brings me to a topic that seems pretty obvious, yet somehow gets lost in the midst of all the passion and flurry of a new romance. We want to be loved for who we are, yet we are expected to grow and mature in the way we relate specifically to the one we love. Conversely, we love the person we love “just the way they are”… but still expect them to put some effort into working out the wrinkles that come along the way. Perhaps it’ll make things a little clearer if we categorize ourselves by our “Habits” apart from our “Personality”.
In our Habits, I mean those more external aspects of our lives like whether or not we put the toilet seat down, drive fast or slow, fold the laundry or just wear it straight from the dryer. It can also include changeable things like learning courtesy, romance, consideration, or showing up on time. While Personality would be more like your lifelong temperament. Have you always been excitable, personable, easily bothered, meticulous, estudious, sociable, humorous, etc. as your normal “mode” of life without even trying? It’s those things within that are just simply You.
Okay, so now let’s say Joe meets Mary and they’re just crazy for each other. Joe has been a bachelor all his life and tends to be a bit sloppy, but cooks great, very romantic, but shows up late to work, emotional but doesn’t have a bad temper. Meanwhile Mary is meticulously clean, but very warm- hearted, very practical with money, but very intolerant of irresponsiblity, considerate but not prone to random acts of passion. As you can see, Joe and Mary may have a few wrinkles to work through. But all in all they are just crazy for each other, so they set to work on their relationship.
Does Joe love Mary for who she is? He says, “Yah!”. Does Joe wish she’d lighten up a bit and not be such a drag about what he considers “little things”? Again he says, “Yah!” And Mary, she just loves Joe to pieces. But she would feel Joe was considerate of her feelings and advice if he’d be a bit more responsible with his job and help clean up the house more often. Joe and Mary are set up to do one of two very interesting things here.
They have the opportunity to love one another as they are, while still expecting some level of “change” in consideration for each other. Doing this they can help each other as a great team with Joe becoming a bit more responsible and Mary a bit more loose and fun. The other possibility lying before them is to do what happens too often. They can try to “force” change from each other and find themselves bartering against each other in such a way that, to prove they are their own person.. become all the more Carefree-Joe and Uptight-Mary.
Of course, there is always the third option where where only Mary, or Joe, are doing all the changing and giving in the relationship while the other simply takes it easy and takes it all for it’s worth. But more on this in our conclusion.
When this second option comes into play, it won’t be long before the warmth and consideration that make love so grand soon grow cold and distant to some degree or another. So what might be the element that makes the first option work that is lacking in the second option? It would seem to be the issue of “giving freely”. There is a saying that “Love does the most, yet thinks the least of what it does.” Love is not 100% mushy feelings, it has to do with the way you “do” things in relation to the one you love. It gives unselfishly because it’s motivation for giving, or changing Habits, is not for what it -gets-, but simply what it can -give- to the beloved. Meanwhile, one maintains their original sense of who they are, their own Personality.
Unfortunately too many people have been justifiably hurt by giving to people who either did not appreciate it, demanded more or were simply unsatisfiable. And so the temptation is to prevent ourselves from being hurt that way again. But I view love much like my fourth sky-dive attempt. The first time was GREAT! What a rush! Second time, I crashed and hurt my back. Third time, I was so scared I crashed my landing again and not only hurt my back but accidently had a clip I’d overlooked dig into my leg the whole way down before slamming into the ground. But the fourth time, as I sat there with my gear waiting for my plane to be re-fueled, I figured going up again was just gonna have to be an “all or nothing” approach. I couldn’t go half-way and back out just because I’d gotten hurt before. I jumped, I landed fine and even rode my bicycle home with a stupid grin on my face.
And so it is with love. Most of us have past relationships where we truly gave and didn’t get the same in return. We were told “I love you”, but the actions just weren’t behind it, so we left. But when faced with a new relationship, if it’s going to work it’ll be because we are willing to believe once again, it’s “all or nothing”. This means giving love that expects to be heard and respected for our desires as well as willing to give in respect to the desires of our beloved. Meanwhile, we love them for who they are, even as we work together to smooth out some of the habits that grate on our very last nerve.
Henry Velez is a writer, traveler and vlogger currently living in the Philippines. He has written extensively on social issues, relationships and travel.