Uniqueness And Intimate Imperfections
May 24, 2007
This is the fourth post in a series “that will attempt to define relationships and how each of us, as men and women, have come to develop certain expectations when it comes to those relationships. We will look at the baggage we all carry, be it from the past or baggage that comes from certain expectations and assumptions about what the future holds.”
There is an entire industry and economy based on our obsession with perfection. The right clothes, the right makeup, the right car, and even the right laundry detergent are the secrets and necessary tools to finding that elusive happiness, fulfillment and love.
The obsession with perfection obscures a certain reality, one that is quite clear.
There is no such thing in nature as perfection.
In fact, more often than not, it is our own imperfections that others are attracted to and the imperfections in others that we find irresistible.
Each of us is unique. We each are blessed with certain character strengths and there are parts of our personality that are magnetic and can bring out the best in others. Sadly, because of the obsession with perfection, we have been conditioned not to see that best part of ourselves and sometimes, we are so blind to those traits, we cannot even see them in ourselves. We can and do see them in others (“If only I were more like him/her”), but we seem unable or unwilling to see those best parts of we are, in ourselves.
If you identify yourself by external ideas and trappings, chances are you have no idea who you are. If you have no idea who you are, you cannot possibly be a good friend because you don’t have the capacity to give a part of yourself you aren’t familiar with. You cant have an intimate relationship with anyone else if you aren’t intimate with yourself.
Any intimate relationship, be it with oneself or another, is founded on our understanding, accepting and appreciating those things which makes us unique. The ‘perfection’ that so many are obsessed with, is nothing more than an attempt to eradicate our own uniqueness by demanding loyalty to mass produced items or ideas.
We are all imperfect. We are meant to be imperfect. As long as we are imperfect we can better ourselves or our situations. We can wake up in the morning and see perfection and be satisfied, demanding nothing from ourselves or those around us, or we can wake up in the morning and say to ourselves, ‘what can I do today to make this day just a little bit better than yesterday?’ That question can be addressed to ourselves, our partners, our children or friends. Making today just a bit better than yesterday is fuel and the oxygen of happiness.
Of course, we can elevate those parts of our uniqueness that aren’t so wonderful. That is what ‘self improvement’ (or ‘self elevation,’ a far better term) is all about.
Therapists often note that the instinct we have to reject certain people within a group, to feel their disapproval or to completely dissociate from them, is often the result in seeing in them the things about ourselves we do not like.
If we reject people out of hand, by way of a knee jerk reaction, we deprive ourselves of finding and appreciating the qualities that make others unique. Put the shoe on the other foot: If others reject us because of our perceived shortcomings, they will never get to know who we really are and what makes us unique and worthy. We are each more than our perceived shortcomings. It may be that we might find others incompatible, just as others may find no connection with us. Nevertheless, we are all more than our incompatibilities. To reject someone out of hand is to reject something in ourselves.
When it comes to love, we all ‘play the game,’ of course. At the beginning of the relationship, we put our best foot forward and naturally want to make a good impression. Nothing wrong- and everything right- with that, unless we present ourselves as someone we are not. If we present ourselves with a nobility of character when in fact we are simply ‘good people,’ we will be found out. If we present ourselves as frugal when are in fact just the opposite, we will be discovered. If we present ourselves as loving young children when in fact we do not, that too will eventually be revealed.
We are more likely to find love and meaning if we stay true to ourselves. Looking for love is not auditioning for a Hollywood starring role. Looking for love is just the opposite. Meaning, context and real intimacy are required. Real love requires real courage. Playing a role requires detachment and distance, two things antithetical to a real relationship.
Defining real love and intimacy in Hollywood or ‘perfection’ terms is a heavy burden that cannot be borne for very long. That kind of love has no shelf life. Everybody knows that movies come to an end. There real ‘happily ever after‘ only happens in real life, with real people overcoming hurdles and obstacles and by way of real commitment.
Being who we are is not as hard as it sounds. Telling someone the truth, “I can be impatient at times, but I’m working on it!” and “I’ll bet that is something you can help me with” will make a potential relationship easier than by being deceitful and saying “I have the patience of a Saint!”
In those instances, being truthful is finding a happy medium. For example, there is no point in pretending money isn’t tight when it really is. Instead of resenting going out every week to an expensive restaurant, going out once every three of four weeks to that same restaurant becomes an enjoyable experience. When you share your realities, people are more likely to be drawn to you because sharing reality is sharing intimacy. A little bit of humor, open communication and willingness to be open about our uniqueness goes a long way in forging a strong intimate relationship.
No one has ever been really loved for being perfect. They are loved because they know themselves, their imperfections, uniqueness and their willingness to be intimate.
More to follow.