Friday, February 19, 2010
Loving the imperfect person perfectly
I have this problem, I have these disastrously high expectations for people, expectations and standards no one has ever met, not even close, not that I should be surprised by this; but it's a big problem. I hold people in the highest regard when it comes to the choices they will make, who they are as people, how they will follow through on these decisions and when they fail, as we all do, when I realize that they are human just like everyone else I am heartbroken. I lost a lot of friends this way. I have a hard time swallowing peoples imperfections and failings and how disappointing people can be sometimes. And I generally hold these expectations highest for the people I am closest to.
As I've grown up though, I have begun to accept the fact that no one is going to be able to fulfill my expectations, this came to me when I realized that I was pushing people away hypocritically; that I too am not perfect and I will never be so (bummer), realizing its completely unfair to be shocked when people stumble and fall. When I began to stumble and fall myself over and over (there were some rough years, especially when it came to boyfriends) I started to take on a whole new outlook. Some call it negativity, I call it realism. I embraced the total opposite of my past sentiments and almost expected people to fail, therefore when they actually did I was not nearly as surprised, shocked or upset by their failings.
I began to not expect much out of people, that way I was either not surprised at all when they totally sucked or I was totally and pleasantly surprised when they ended up being more than I expected of them (which frankly wouldn't have been hard with how low of a standard I gave people sometimes). But this can lead to very little quality when it comes to the human life forms you find yourself spending time with and you end up being disappointed anyway. I've now started to embrace not expecting anything, good or bad from anyone and just seeing where it all goes.
So one can imagine I was surprised when I read this in Committed in reference to the marital outlook of the Hmong women, "A Bride whose expectations for happiness are kept necessarily low to begin with is more protected, perhaps, from the risk of devastating disappointments down the road."
IS this the answer? Have I just been embracing the attitudes of the Hmong all this time and not even knowing it?!
Of all the people we would like to think are wonderful, beautiful, perfect people, we would like to hope that the one we choose to spend our lives with, share our most intimate of selves with would be somewhat close to perfect right? I mean its one thing to hold relatively low expectations when it comes to an acquaintance but our life partners?! Really?
So whats healthy and what isnt? We don't want to have such low expectations for the person we love, that might be insulting (to both us and them!) and with low expectations might come repeated failings that may not necessarily be healthy to continually overlook. But we also shouldn't expect perfection because that will surely lead to unbelievable disappointments when we realize we merely married a human being, a perfectly imperfect person.
So do the Hmong have it right? Should we set our expectations for our lives with someone low, so as not to be disappointed in the end? Or should we want more than that for ourselves, potentially setting ourselves up for failure? I know we like to think we deserve so much more than imperfections, we've been told our whole lives to hold the bar high, very high because we are princesses, but is this the right attitude?
Photo by CKSum via flickr