Wednesday, December 13, 2006

one way to tell

I haven't quite figured out when you know that something isn't meant to be. Being what a friend recently described as a "hopeful romantic," I am sometimes tempted to lose site of the nuts and bolts that I know I'll need in a partner - or even the deal breakers that I sometimes try to talk myself around if there are other more attractive factors present. Still - there's a side of me that is unfailingly logical - and growing up in a house with two parents who took almost three decades to make peace with their compatibility (recognizing that it exists in certain aspects of their life and can bring great joy - and in other areas is decidedly lacking and will likely always be so) I recognize the need to let this side win out from time to time.

I do know of one thing that's like a light switch when trying to figure out whether something will work out or not. If you notice, and are annoyed by, a characteristic of the other person that is outside of their control - it's time to exit. If something as insignificant as a turn of speech, or a physical habit or trait drives you nuts - you're headed for trouble. Because these are the things that act as outlets for the other frustrations that are actually within our control - but are sometimes harder to recognize and address. So we focus on the things that are simply part of the package and wish they weren't so. And when that starts, it's time to move on.

18 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've struggled with that balance in all previous relationships.. obviously none were successful, I'm still single ;) But really, I have always had a hard time determining what I could and could not accept then came the difficult part of accepting what you feel and having the *ahem* guts to walk away. While the turn-around times are getting shorter since I'm recongnizing things quicker I still don't know what qualifies a "deal breaker." I know the no-brainer ones like drug user, really awful table manners and poor oral hygiene, but when do we know when we're not comprimising our desires and simply accepting traits about someone? How do we know when we're being too judgemental? How do we know when what we have really is great and why do we let a tic get in the way?

Thanks for posting this Meg... it's been on my mind for a while and I am only now beginning to find words to express what it is I need to start telling myself.

And as for posting comments - I'm on the new Beta. I have no idea what that means.

Eileen

12/13/2006 7:39 PM  
Blogger b said...

Uh Mood, I guess this is the hard thing about this thing called "compromise" - to what extent should one compromise.

And thanks to this posting, the answer is simple(r): for as long as you can stand it (instead of for as long as u want to).

hugs -b-

12/13/2006 8:59 PM  
Anonymous tiger said...

...unless you can make a joke out of it. depends upon how seriously that person takes him/(her?)self. for instance, j leaves the longest meandering voicemail messages on a daily basis. they drive me nuts but its hilarious at the same time, cos its such a part of his personality, he recognizes it and knows its annoying but it just cannot be helped! contrast this with ex: one major annoyance was tapping everything all the time (drummer). if he was sitting next to me he would tap my relex spot on my knee as often as possible. it used to stress me out and he couldn't see how on earth it could be annoying. see ya, then!!!

12/14/2006 9:07 AM  
Blogger Mac said...

Oh course there are two ways to learn of such thing, failures being the most instructive, yet also the most painful. I always choose the harder path.

In my opinion too high a premium is placed upon the Significant Other regarding our own needs, desires, goals. At best, they can be supportive, engaging, loyal and with some real chemistry (that will, by the way, wax and wane quite a bit).

The core cuplrit is the Romantic Myth which is the dominant motif in Western Civilization but has little correlation to reality or life beyond immediate attraction (which is a good thing within reason".

I wrote some articles in Blog form a few years back on this. As you might expect from me, they are fairly unrepressed, but then this subject of yours is a good one and is pervasive over our lives...yet we assume (wrongly) that if we find the "right person" that will be that.

The "right person" one year can turn into a wood chipper along the line, and so can you. So the question is really more about who you want to become.

In the meantime dating is fun (I've retired myself, perhaps for good...and am quite content).

I'll try and find that old blog.

12/14/2006 11:19 AM  
Blogger Arthur Willoughby said...

This will sound ridiculous but as a person on Marriage No. 2 I've found it to be true:

The things you find endearing while dating end up being the things that drive you insane after a lengthy period of time.

The way a person eats...the timbre of their voice...the little quirks that make them unique...these will have all the appeal of fingernails on a blackboard in due time.

I'm comfortable saying this because my wife has admitted the same about me. She once found my neurosis endearing. "His apartment is so clean." "He's never late." "He's very fastidious." In other words, a bona fide obsessive compulsive germophobic control freak. The ideal husband.

At least I don't hunt or watch sports.

12/14/2006 12:51 PM  
Blogger S'Mat said...

Mood, to lame-out some, i am in agreement with all the previous commentators. i think they've chiseled out all the facets of this decision-making spot. i think your brother's explication of this enlightens the murkiest of corners though: who do we see ourself as? who do we want to be?

i believe you are speaking about an early stage of relationship: the 'honeymoon' period, or tacit probationary stage, but i reckon it holds true throughout.. if we project our wants onto the romantic screen the other holds for us, do they fit with the ones they project onto us (B's compromise)? will they be able to see and dicipher and cope with our expectations? echo them back to us for ourselves to review and restructure? or will it be taken as affront?

personally, i am not at all worried about someone's physical habits (like Montreal Gurl, there's a few crucial guidelines, but considering I break them wantonly, I'd say I attend moderation as opposed to out and out rule-making). but more what they represent: giggling is great, unless it represents egregious amounts of flirtation. nail-biting is fine, unless its a code for suppressed anxiety. calling someone frequently is cute, unless it is out-and-out paranoia.

i think, ultimately, its the old 'know thyself' axiom that applies, and then finding the partner with the neuroses that most suit or complement your own. of course, this should be tempered with actual chemistry (if i am too relaxed and she is too high-strung, we could either raise or ruin each others lives).. anyway, all this to say: i'm with you on this one!

12/14/2006 1:53 PM  
Blogger Mood Indigo said...

such good thoughts and contributions from everyone. I love how people bring their own experiences, whether in or out of a relationship, to the table.

The hopeless romantic in me wants to say that when the right person comes along, something that was a hang up with someone else will somehow lose its importance. At the same time - I think it's important to acknowledge things that annoy us, simply because they can be used as ammunition when we hit harder times if we're not careful.

Eileen and B - good questions and thoughts. And of course compromise - the breakfast of relationship champions. And as to how do we know - I think sometimes we just need to trust our gut!

Tiger - Hi girl! That is a great way to look at it - and that's kind of what I mean, when the right person comes along - you're simply willing to put up with something that you might hold against the wrong person.

Mac - very good point about putting the responsibility on the other to fulfill needs. I think we often approach love very selfishly - "what can I get out of this?" The most successful relationships I've seen are those where each person asks first what they can do to make the other person's life better - rather than dwell on what they're getting in return. Would love to read more of your thoughts...

Apathy - don't say that! I don't want to give up the things that made me smile just because I get used to them! I think you are probably right though - and I bet this is especially true when you're attracted to characteristics in someone else because they are the opposite of your own. I imagine I could truly admire someone for their neatness, but having that put on me (a less than neat person) on a daily basis would probably get old quick!

S'mat - your second to last paragraph is where it's at. I think recognizing the motivation or cause of an action is critical when deciding whether or not it gets to you. Unfortunately there's some things that just grate at your nerves - those were mostly what I was talking about - and I'm not sure we can always control whether they bug us or not - sometimes they just do.

y'all are such good thinkers :)

12/14/2006 2:12 PM  
Blogger mysterygirl! said...

I think that's true-- it's easy to get too focused on those kinds of things if the relationship isn't working on the other more malleable levels, too.

12/14/2006 2:52 PM  
Blogger Eve said...

It's so funny, I was just thinking about this. A guy I am interested in sent me an email that said "thanks 4..." instead of "thanks for." It made me want to write him off. But I think instead of it being just a nit-picky thing, it is indicative of something else I sense, a gut instinct that things just aren't right with him. And I know it's important to trust that gut instinct.

My question is: when is it a gut instinct and when is it just paranoia?

Also, I am romantic, but if I'm not interested in someone, their actions which would seem romantic were I interested just come across as desperate and creepy. One person's romance is another's stalking.

And while I'm at it, what's with those people who are always in relationships? Is it because they have a need to be with someone and settle? Or is it that they are more open to that connection and don't freak out when they have it?

12/14/2006 3:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Part of true love is putting up with all that shit, n'est ce pas?

Remember one of the end scenes in Runaway Bride, when Julia is in Richard's apartment, asking him to marry her... one of the lines I never forgot was something like, "I guarantee there will be times when both of us will want to get out."

She said that at the same time she was proposing, for pete's sake, meaning that it's a sad, ugly truth. It's amazing how when you're single you long to be with someone, sometimes when you're with someone you long to be single, and we're all afraid of those cute l'il things becoming the bains of our existence later on.

Such is life.

12/14/2006 7:32 PM  
Anonymous k. said...

i don't know, i always had a suspicion that when you first meet a person, you are really meeting only who you want them to be. if you really want them to be mr. right, then that's what they become to you. then, over time, the person becomes less of who you want them to be and more of who they really are. and that's a frightening thing because that's when you realize that they are really their own person and--literally--not who you want them to be.

12/14/2006 9:31 PM  
Blogger Mood Indigo said...

MG! - yup!

Eve - trust the gut! And I feel somewhat entitled to speak to the question about people who are always in relationships because until a year and a half ago, I was one of those people for about 8 years. One of the best thoughts I've come across on this was shared by my friend Tiger (see above) who has also been somewhat of a serial monogomist - but who has managed to find her perfect fit in this last relationship. She said that we are people who see the very best in people from the get go. We look for similarities and somehow manage to take those we find and create bonds that we build relationships on. Sometimes the qualities or similarities we isolate though aren't enough to really form a lasting partnership - but being optimists and romantics we do our best to keep them going. That's why I knew I needed to take a break from the whole relationship game after my last break up - and I'm so glad I have! Every interaction I've had since - and especially those that gave my heart that initial charge have taught me so much about my own ability to adequately feel someone else out and what kind of a fit we'd be. I've made some misjudgements - and I've also confronted that even though I might see someone as a good fit for me, they might not see the same in me. So I don't know if that answers your question but there are some further thoughts at the least!

FG - I haven't seen Runaway Bride but I can't argue with that sentiment! The grass is always greener - but somehow I believe that with the right person - even when you want to tear your hair out because they didn't refill the toilet paper, the inner-gut is saying a silent thank you that this is the specific person for whom you can both tear your hair out, and make up with.

K - I think it takes at least a year to really get to know someone and get past those first images you build up. That's of course why it's so encouraging to see people after a year with the same sort of enthusiasm for each other :) Wise words.

12/15/2006 9:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are "deal breakers" anyway? It seems to me that looking for these "deal breakers" is a cousin to self-sabotage. Is being in love with someone as easy as finding the required "nuts and bolts?" Please indulge me a bit with an answer. I started reading your blog entries a little while ago and after taking them in a bit I have drawn a conclusion of you. It may be right, wrong or a bit of both. On one hand you seem to be a bit whimsy with all of the early stage wedding and life planning and that is beautiful in you. You go off to never never land and dream of Japanese themed weddings and of future love. You tingle with excitement just thinking of talking to the lucky boy who has your garnered your fancy. These things are amazing in you. That vibe you are in is fantastic and is where you need to stay. Then I read this "nuts and bolts" stuff and want to cry tears of sadness for you. I'm not sure why you leave never never land. It is like you are wrapped up in this budding whatever it is and then the vibe changes and you break out the ledger and scale to way out the nuts vs. bolts. That pretty lady is a grand shame. Love isn't a business or an arrangement that can be measured and weighed. It is not made up of "nuts and bolts." It is a thing of wonder that needs far more of never never land than it will ever need of nuts and bolts. Let the nuts and bolts hold your car together. Let never never land surround your heart.
Random Guy

12/15/2006 10:07 AM  
Blogger Mood Indigo said...

Random guy - thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. I think perhaps this post was taken a bit differently than it was meant (though I love where it's gone with everyone's comments). My point in recognizing deal breakers is that you need to be able to be yourself with someone - and for me, sure - that includes bringing my so-called sense of whimsy to the table. If someone I was with suddenly started resenting that - then I'd know it wasn't meant to be. Because as silly as I can be in my day dreams - they're a part of me, and they're coming with me into any relationship I venture into. I will say that while I am a dreamer I am also very practical - and these two sides battle within me constantly. I have made choices in love based on emotion and choices based on practicality. Neither has yet served me 100% - and thus I am confident I have yet to understand the balance completely. That said - I will say that one of the reasons this new person has excited me so is that even in one night of hanging out - I felt like I brought all of me to the table. I didn't edit out the whimsy, I didn't subdue the practicality. So hopefully you're not too worried about me - but please keep the comments and the feedback coming - I love the insight.

And don't forget - a true hopeless romantic is just that, hopeless :)

12/15/2006 12:00 PM  
Blogger S'Mat said...

and never never land also has its share of ticking crocodiles!

12/15/2006 12:44 PM  
Blogger S'Mat said...

ps. hahaha eve, hugh grant and john cusack would have such real-life restraining orders, they'd probably only have the ketchup counter in some minnesota KFC to trade pervo-hints.

12/15/2006 6:49 PM  
Blogger Mac said...

Well, first I am jealous...you have the best commentators around.

Nice answer to Anonymous Guy...but one phrase sticks with me...er..."meant to be"

Hmnnn...

To put it quickly, "meant to be" in my view, implies an overarching ethos for the relationship.

Never seen one.

Seen it as a catylist to be sure. But the few successful relationships I know of are driven by an inner intentionality after commitment is decided. They never assume they were meant to be anything they do not choose to create together. Also, they often do not see this as the end-all...but seem to be mutual pilgrims.

Hope that is helpful.

Oh here is the link to my alter-ego...please remember it is not me.

http://postmodernpensees.blogspot.com/

12/17/2006 4:16 AM  
Anonymous Me: The Sequel said...

Ultimately, for me, it is one master "deal-maker" rather than small, assorted "breakers" that act as the litmus test of love. It is this:

To be accepted for the parts of me that are not understood, and yet loved in spite of the ones that are.

12/17/2006 12:11 PM  

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