"Wherever you are, whenever it's right
You'll come out of nowhere and into my life
And I know that we can be so amazing
And, baby, your love is going to change me
And now I can see every possibility..."
-- Michael Buble, Haven't Met You Yet
So here we are, gathered around our little campfire, with the logs of Love, Transformation, Expectation, and Compatibility all ablaze. And I'm trying to balance this equation: in a loving relationship, what is the proper mix of accepting of your partner as they are, desire to transform, acceptance of oneself, and desire to be transformed.
The short answer is, of course: Whatever works! But I'm audacious enough to suppose that there is a particular view of the equation that is more inclined to work for most people. To figure that out, you need to decide how much you support the following assumptions:
- Love, by its very nature, should transform people and situations
- People in loving relationships should care as much (or more) about their partners as themselves
- Everyone has things about themselves they would like to change
- No one likes to feel that they are being forced or coerced into changing
- People are always changing - whether they realize it or not
I know this will come as a shock - but I think there is a great deal of truth in these assumptions. So how does that end up balancing the equation? I would summarize it this way:
- People should enter into loving relationships accepting their partners as they are
- People should enter into loving relationships trying to be the best they can be
I find the attitude that "My partner should accept me as who I am, no matter what" to be an excuse for bad behavior*. It seems to me that, if we want our partners to accept us for who we are, we should at least be attempting to put our best foot forward. I don't feel that it is being dishonest to "be on your best behavior".
The danger, I think, is in trying to distort our "true" selves in the hope of making ourselves attractive to a partner. I don't believe that such a performance can be sustained over the long haul. I think this type of deception (of both oneself and your partner) is distinctly different from recognizing things about yourself that you would like to change - and looking for a partner that can help you make that change.
So where does that leave our equation?
Here's my opinion: The most stable relationships will exist where partners are most accepting of each other as they are. The impetus for change should not come from one partner desiring to change the other - but a partner who desires to be changed through the love and influence of their partner over time.
After all, isn't the amazing thing that people can sustain long-term, loving relationships at all? If, as I suspect, people are changing constantly (whether they notice it or not), how is it that all couples don't eventually become estranged?
Maybe it's because their love for one another is continually transforming them.
PS: I won ANOTHER iPad today. No sh*t. I probably should have played the Lottery too.
PPS: I did NOT compose this post on my iPad. But it is still really cool.
*It has long been my view that bad behavior can be understood or tolerated - but not excused.