Think about this:
Is there any relationship you have ever had (with another human) in which you have NEVER disappointed the other person, NEVER hurt their feelings, and you have ALWAYS known how they feel and how to help them?
Let me qualify that. The relationship has to have lasted for more than two months, and you have to have had relatively intense and near daily contact with each other. So don’t think your superficial relationship with your librarian or barista counts.
Yet somehow you expect that other person in a relationship will never really hurt you. You expect them to always be willing, to always be understanding and to always be aware of not upsetting you.
Perhaps this comes from an unrealistically optimistic view of relationships that you got from your perfect mother. Perhaps from fairy tales you read, or fantasies you maintain. In any case, it’s not reality.
In reality, the people we love sometimes hurt us, sometimes betray us and sometimes don’t accept us. That’s part of being human.
Of course those things are rarely our intent. Still, they happen, because, like I said, we are human after all. So we make mistakes.
Also, we can’t read minds.
When (not if) we are disappointed by our friends and partners, we have several choices. We can hold that disappointment in our hearts and use it to create distance between us and the other. We can cling to our feeling of being offended. We can tell others all about it and recruit them so they are on Our Side (this way we can continue to feel like we are Right).
Or we can let go of the offense and look for ways in which we can create a connection with the other person that is based in common understanding and tolerance. (Please note, this requires that you have appropriate boundaries — don’t create tolerance with people who you cannot say no to or who are invasive when you cannot defend yourself).
One way we deal with difficulties like this is by becoming controlling.
We’re going to talk about that next time in part 5.