|Babbling about relationships
||[Oct. 18th, 2003|01:20 pm]
I've been thinking about something that Ferrett said in his entry from last night - that his uncle always said that it's not bad if you're fighting as long as you don't have the same fight twice.
Wouldn't it be lovely if people could have a fight only once and get it out of their systems?
The truth, though, is that people do fight about the same thing over and over and with slight variations on the theme. Living together isn't easy - we're all selfish fucks who want our own way, and want our own way to be validated by those around us. It's hard giving up those things we want that hurt other people, and we're remarkably good at convincing ourselves that the problem isn't that we are being unreasonable but that it's the other guy who is being a dick. That things would be fine if only he or she would see it my way.
Here's where it gets tricky, though: sometimes you are right, and you need to stick to your guns, but that other person is just not going to validate your rightness. No matter what you do. No matter what you say. But you still want to make them see - if only you'd really listen to me, you'd know I was right.
And it's not going to work, because that other person has their own agenda and will just continue thinking you're a jerk for doing what you have to for yourself. And the fights continue because you can't be at peace with making the right decision if you can't persuade the other person of your viewpoint, and it's too painful to know that - even if she's being a total asshole, even if he's such a jerk that people don't want to associate with him - you haven't been able to convince them of the error in their ways.
So you engage in the fight again. And they engage in the fight again because the topic is still on the table. And that means that you might still be swayed to their viewpoint. If you're willing to fight about it, you might be convinced. You both expend massive time and emotional energy ripping each other apart in a frantic attempt to make the other one see.
(Now go back and reverse the situation. Sometimes you are the unreasonable ass, wrapping your self-centered worldview around you like a flag, and your partner is the one trying to convince you. None of us are immune.)
Sometimes we fight over and over again because the argument is only the surface, and it takes several forays against that surface to finally break through to the underlying issue and really deal. But a lot of times when you fight about the same thing over and over again it's only because you want to make right and make nice, and you just can't.
Don't try to find compromise where none will exist. Know what you need, and what you believe, and what is foundational and can't be negotiated. Your self-respect, your need to be treated well, your desire for security, your need for adventure, whatever it is, if you aren't going to change it, stop fighting about it. And be brave enough to not need validation from outside yourself. Be brave enough to let a relationship go if it's going to impact that which is foundational. Because if you don't, you will never be comfortable and secure, you will always be fighting to maintain your foundation.
The rest of the give-and-take of living together has enough argument and compromise in it to last a lifetime. Don't try to build it on quicksand.
Here's the interesting thing about figuring out what your foundations are. Once you have done so, you have three choices. The first two are two sides of the same coin: you let the partner know that the need must be fulfilled, and they will either learn to fulfill it or, if it is contrary to their foundation or they don't care enough to do so, you let them go - no fuss, no battles, because this is non-negotiable. If you take this attitude anyone who is worth being with will make the change, and if they won't they weren't worth being with.
But here's the other thing that can happen. You might come to realize that this deep-seated, foundational need of yours in wrong-headed and self-destructive, and that you need to change it. You might need to spend some time learning to love yourself and those around you better. But you can never get to the point of making such changes as long as you don't really look at and evaluate what's foundational for you.