Photo by Alex Stoddard
By Kayla Albert
“Love isn’t a state of caring. It is an active noun, like struggle.
To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly
the way he or she is, right here and now.”
There are certain things in life that we can’t master simply by memorizing a set of facts or figures. We must navigate our way using past experiences and current feelings, attempting to find what’s “right” when “right” is only a matter of opinion.
Relationships, especially romantic ones, are just one of these things.
Ever since I started dating at the immature age of 15, I’ve always evaluated other people’s relationships. I pay careful attention to the dynamic between two people, taking mental note of the things that other people’s partners do and don’t do for them.
I believe that the majority of us are on this constant quest to find the components of a perfect relationship, the formula that ensures that two people will fall blissfully into love and never know what it’s like to fall out of it.
Are there two personality types that can blend together seamlessly, ensuring that any conflict that arises is short-lived? Are there life experiences that can mold someone into being better equipped to handle the ups and downs that come with any relationship?
In my mind I believe that, yes, certain traits and life experiences can make a relationship more balanced and less tumultuous. But the right ingredients don’t ensure that the end product will taste the way we’d like it too — it’s the effort that goes into combining those ingredients that ultimately determine what the end result will be.
Growing up I was fortunate enough to always see mom and dad as a united front, believing that divorce was something that happened to other families. They bickered over bills and disagreed over who should be responsible for making meals, but I never questioned the stability of my foundation.
While this has given me something that many people don’t have — faith in the longevity of love — it’s also made me struggle with the idea that this kind of constant only happens for those who find their perfect match.
I’d like to believe that I am an entirely open minded and non-judgmental person. But this belief that I must find someone that fits my mind, my life, my personality perfectly has led me to operate from a place of analytical judgment, compartmentalizing and taking note of everything both big and small, dissecting a potential partner into parts that look nothing like their whole.
It’s made me discount things I know nothing about and place importance on things that I didn’t find all that important in the first place.
It’s made me forget that love is about the process, not the end result.
Unfortunately, by definition, perfect means that flaws and blemishes don’t exist. But people, and by default relationships, are filled with both flaws and blemishes.
And in truth, how can I expect someone else to always be kind when I’m not always kind? Or how can I expect them to be financially responsible when I don’t always want to be?
I’m not perfect. Therefore, my perfect match will be entirely imperfect.
If I were to judge my other half from a piece of paper, I can say with some certainty that we would have never met. I would have never chosen him for his political beliefs, his tumultuous upbringing or the sacrifices that come along with his choice in careers.
I met the person before I was able to pick the “imperfections” apart, and this is what that has taught me:
The bigger the differences the bigger the lesson. The bigger the lesson the bigger the reward.
As a society we like to see things in black and white, wrong and right. This gives us a false sense of security and allows us to make sense of anything that comes our way. Plus, it gives our ego a chance to shine.
But recognizing shades of gray and being able to let go of the “right” fight opens us up to a world of possibilities. It’s simply about being — not defending or preaching.
Love doesn’t settle and it’s not always pretty.
Relationships aren’t always a soft place to fall. If we are able to let go of the notion that they should act like a security blanket, we can see them for what they really are — a place to facilitate growth and encourage self-reflection.
We expect for everything to fall into place once we’ve met our match, but this is actually where the real work begins; we must plant seeds, water what grows and pull the weeds as they come up.
The Problem with Comparing Relationships
Comparing relationships is like comparing apples to oranges.
I have a friend who was always willing to share the positive aspects of her relationship. While I was extremely happy for her, I found myself comparing our experiences and feeling disappointed when it appeared that she had something I didn’t. In many ways it seemed too good to be true.
A few months later they broke up for good.
We rarely know the inner workings of another couple’s relationship, so it can be detrimental to our own to compare the two. In addition, what one person brings to another person’s life may not be what you need in your life — no two people and no two relationships are alike, for good reason.
A Work in Progress
I am a work in progress therefore my partner is a work in progress.
I have the money thing pretty well figured out. He can be an impulsive spender.
He is confident and stands up for what he believes in. I don’t always like to rock the boat.
If I blame him for his shortcomings, he can easily blame me for mine. Plus, these are the things that balance us out, and teach us to find balance within ourselves.
I don’t know if I’ve found my “perfect” match. All I know is that there is a deeper, more profound beauty in the imperfections and I treasure everything that this knowing has brought to my life.
> How about you? Share your thoughts and stories with us in the comment below. See you there!
Related Stories on Imperfections & Relationships:
- Secrets to Healthy Relationships
- When Couples Fight
- The Perfect New Year’s Resolution
- How to Find True Love
- The Secret to Self Loving
- Train Your Eyes to See Color, Again
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