Friday, December 29, 2006

The hazards of comparison

So. Here I sit. I’ve had the discussion with my ex over why he thinks getting married again is a great idea. They laugh a lot. She does _____. He doesn’t have to _____. And on and on. And I thought about it. He and I used to laugh a lot. The blanks could be filled in in numerous good ways – in the past.

What I’ve learned is that things change. The timeline for that change is different for most people. In the case of my last boyfriend it was far too quickly. You get used to each other. Stop doing the little things that make the relationship great and grand and wonderful. You laugh less because you spend more time in silence watching reruns. You take each other for granted. There’s always tomorrow.

I have my own lists. J and I laugh a lot. Yep. We do. Did T and I? Yep, at one point life was one big barrel of laughs. This is me we’re talking about. So I’ve revised my list somewhat. Sure, there can still be those things that are wonderful now that may change. I may not always come home from a trip to find flowers on my kitchen table. But for now, that’s a gesture that was missing from other relationships from the start.

In some ways, these lists are a comparison to loves past. He doesn’t hunt. There’s a big one. He curls and fishes and wants to do those things WITH me not apart. So yeah, I can look at my life and see what I loved about it with T. And J has those qualities. Then I can look at it and see what I didn’t like about that life. This is where it gets tricky. I have to keep in mind what the relationship was like when it was good.

It’s easy to look back and say, “at the end, it sucked, therefore J is better in every way.” Well…no. Not really. Sure, I had the rose coloured glasses on at first. I saw what I wanted and crossed my fingers that the bad would go away. That he would change. Gag.

I’ve done it again since. In some ways I see my choices as protection. Choosing someone with a laundry list of things that aren’t compatible with me as a way to prevent myself from falling in love and risking that great heartbreak. Yet, when that “acceptable” person doesn’t change, it still hurts. When that “acceptable, but not great” relationship ends, tears are still shed and there’s that empty spot in one’s life again.

In counseling, I had to make up a list of qualities I wanted in a partner. That list surprised me, as did the surprising lack of those qualities in my ex husband as well as ex boyfriends. Yet, women are trained to expect to compromise on that list. After all, we shouldn’t expect men to live up to our expectations. Mr. Perfect can’t be out there for all of us so we have to compromise and accept Mr. Frog instead.

It’s sad when we look at men and decide that they can’t be expected to behave well, that they don’t have to treat women well because, well, they’re men. They should be expected to snort and spit and walk all over us because we’re the weaker sex. No, this isn’t a rant about feminism. It’s a rant about treating people well.

I’m willing to forgive flaws. God knows I have my share of them. But it isn’t acceptable to compare me to the lofty behaviour of your 6 year old child. It isn’t acceptable to use all of your vacation every year to hunt. And it wasn’t acceptable for me to expect T and even G to read my mind. Yet, I’m more than willing to admit flaws and apologize for them. But if you can’t admit to the same, then it makes it difficult for me to forgive the flaw.

J has flaws. I’ve gotta get used to his bull in a china shop approach to life. In some ways it’s great – like negotiating on my new car (Toyota matrix in bright red, go me!). Heh…not sure it’s negotiation when we move up $100 and they come down $6,000. I’m too busy apologizing for bumping into people, while he’s mowing them down ahead of me. Yet he’s surprisingly giving as well.

We’re still in that honeymoon phase. Oddly enough. It’s been 4 months. Time has flown by. I see his flaws. I’ve forced myself to open my eyes to that rather than ignore it when things are good. 4 months without a single significant fight. I’ve accepted that if I want him somewhere at a certain time, I need to call him and remind him. He’s accepted I hate asking for things – kinda works in his favour that one. However, I sucked it up and asked a lot of him over the last 3 weeks and every time, he came through. Ok, he came through on every reasonable request and a couple not-so reasonable ones. He didn’t take me to the airport for 5 am on a weeknight, but he picked me up there at 3 am on a weekend when my flight was delayed for 2.5 hours.

So there ya go. It’s hard to remember the good at the start of a relationship once things go bad. It’s easy to compare a new person to the bad times, but not so easy to face the fact that at the start of the relationship, things were pretty much the same. So, I smile more now than I have in most of the last year. But I know I smiled a lot when G and I started dating so that isn’t my qualifier for J being a good match for me.

It bugs me that T seems to have forgotten what it was like with me when it was good. That he’s willing to risk another marriage on the same qualities that made him marry me, knowing he isn’t willing to change. I hurt for what he’s going through right now and hope like hell it goes away fast, without ruining his career or him. I hope the advice I gave him helps. But I know that there are reasons we didn’t reconcile and the more I learn, the more I know it was the right thing. That I am not strong enough to stand by him through this as his wife, but I can as his friend -as long as I don’t have to talk to him. : )


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home