Warning: naughty language ahead!
A friend of mine emailed me with this recently, adding, “After naming my great qualities, he says he’s just not attracted to me anymore.”
She listed some of her more than valid value points as well as a list of his flaws that she’d (in my opinion, more than graciously) accepted.
My initial reaction was, “You deserve better!” silently cursing his cruelty and superficiality.
It bothered me and I wondered where that fine line is between the familiar comfort of being ourselves with our partner and letting ourselves go. (Not just physically.)
My friend admits to gaining some weight during the relationship. I didn’t ask if he had, too, or if he’d developed his own “unattractive” qualities during their getting (too?) comfortable phase.
Where is that line, anyway?
It’s natural to go through that peacock-feathers courting stage where we mostly show our best plumage.
The reality is: we’re attracted to people for various reasons, and whether or not one thinks it’s shallow, physical appearance is part of that. And that’s not to say everyone likes the stereotypical movie-star-or-similar-facsimile beauty.
We are all individually beautiful in our own ways. The right person for us will see and appreciate that beauty if the rest of our package—personality/values/goals/hobbies/whatever—is also pleasing to him (or her). And if what they’re offering seems to match our desires, hello butterflies! And, good-bye logic.
The honeymoon phase doesn’t last forever and we eventually show our other true colours. Colours that may not be attractive to the person we wooed in.
This predictable path from wooed to woed is the part where I wonder why anyone gets married anymore—or at least why they insist on reciting the words “for better or worse” because Lord knows few unions honour this promise. But I digress.
I used to be a wooer. Now I’m just me. Warts and all. That’s a metaphor. (I don’t actually have warts. Not that there’s anything wrong with that if you like warts.) But I am beautifully flawed. As in, I’ve embraced my imperfect self.
There’s no bait and switch. The right guy will love my flaws, both physical and non-physical, because they are what make me me. (And likewise the other way around.) It doesn’t get worse, but we can get better together if we accept and appreciate each other for who we are today and who we want to strive to be in our future…That is, assuming life is predictable.
Life throws shit at us from all directions. Sometimes it’s good shit and sometimes it’s I’ve-been-in-two-vehicle-accidents-this-year-and-my-brother-died-and-my-job-is-at-risk-and-I’m-a-single-mom-and-my-body-aches-and-I’m-dead-tired shit. Does this count as for better or worse? Shit, yeah.
There’s a difference between I got crapped on by life and need some leeway and I got too comfortable to care anymore (cough) lazy.
Unless we like lazy in our lover, it’s not an attractive quality in us, either.
Relationships are give and take and they’re also a lot of work. There’s no room for lazy. Some couples may seem seamless, but they do what it takes to make it work. They accept that as part of the program.
I don’t know the details of my friend’s relationship woes or both sides of the who-did-whats, but I do know that what we sign up for in the beginning of a relationship can create an unrealistic expectation of continued sameness.
Sameness = Stagnancy.
But getting too comfy in a relationship where we let ourselves go in a way that we don’t even like (yet have control over) is also a turn-off—to ourselves, if not our partner.
We owe it to ourselves to grow into our best potential, however that looks on us—or on the scale—and if that doesn’t work for our partner, then maybe we have different ideals of what “for better” means and that might mean we’re no longer ideal for each other.
If we’re going through a Life Shit Storm and we’ve slid a bit from the path of best self and our partner isn’t supportive, then yeah, I still think we deserve better. Or different, at least.
But if we don’t even like who we’ve become, then maybe it’s time to take a breather, set pride and ego aside and ask for some help to get back on track to (re-)becoming our better self, whatever that looks and feels like for us given our current circumstances.
Because we all deserve better than worse.
And despite my own divorce and the statistics and the logic, I still believe in butterflies, and yeah, I still believe in marriage.
(Published with permission of said beautiful friend.)
At Home in My Body
How to fall in love with yourself:
Author: Anna Jorgensen
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Theresa Thompson/Flickr