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Re: T advocates ending my relationship Tabitha

Posted by Dinah on June 19, 2008, at 10:29:48

In reply to T advocates ending my relationship, posted by Tabitha on June 19, 2008, at 1:42:09

Hmmm..... This is a tough one.

My therapist is probably more directive than most. He never tells me what to do precisely. But I am rarely left in doubt of what he thinks. And frankly, I don't always listen to him. Some of his ideas are rather unworkable in the real nontherapy world. I'm sure they word great in his world.

As far as relationships go, I guess I'm less optimistic than your therapist. From my observations of nearly every marriage I've ever seen, even the most successful work around major flaws. And my rather cynical viewpoint is that even in those handful of homes that seem blissfully happy and straight out of Ozzie and Harriet, there are probably things going on beneath the surface that just aren't acted out in public.

I figure that in relationships you work on finding "good enough". Yes, it is true that smart and high functioning often coincides with not terribly emotionally available. (You can see where my personal preference lies here.) But it may not be realistic to see one person as meeting all needs. My husband meets some of my emotional needs, but not all of them. I meet some of his needs, but not all of them.

I figure there are some basic minimum requirements. A belief in at least some reasonable level of mutual respect and civility, absolutely no physical violence, no cruelty, and a firm belief in committing to work through problems. And some personal preferences, because we do need to find each other appealing. For example, I'd find a sense of humor and a fair degree of intelligence a bare minimum. And crinkly smiling eyes an added bonus. The requirements for different people are different, of course.

After that, one merely looks for flaws and strengths complementary with one's own. I can't think of one perfectly ideal mate among my acquaintance. But I can think of several acceptable mates with flaws and strengths that I either could not personally tolerate or that I could.

It's not terribly romantic. But building a life together is both not terribly romantic and an incredibly romantic and quixotic venture, IMO. The idea that two people who come from different family cultures and might as well be speaking two different languages because of it, can meld into a unit of their own is immensely romantic, don't you think? It might not be climbing tall mountains, but understanding and accepting differences seems just as venturesome.

So... I don't know whether I'm right or your therapist is right. But I'd say set your minimum standards and then compromise for anything above that. Because I think you're both right. The best of both worlds probably doesn't exist, and moreover emotional availability is not the only criterion - so the right amount of emotional availability plus the rest of the package might be a hard thing to find. But she may be right in that you don't set your minimum standards with regard to your actual worth. I don't really know the whole picture.

And that's just my own pragmatic view of relationships. I'm no expert. As you know I have been with one guy since high school. I may be totally and completely wrong.




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