Love’s Greatest Irony
I had an epiphany about my love life not long ago. I discovered that I tend to be more difficult when I’m with someone I truly have feelings for, and more easygoing when I’m with someone I don’t care about that much. Why is that?
In the sordid and outrageous ride that has been my dating life over the past decade and a half, I’ve been with the woman who is absolutely smitten by me and thinks I am the perfect man for her. I’ve also been with the woman whom—in retrospect—I should be grateful towards for putting up with my *ahem* crap. So which woman do you think I last the longest with? Ironically enough, it’s the woman who gets a healthy dose of my *ahem* crap, not the woman who idealizes me. Again, why is that? Here is where the epiphany begins….
The woman who thinks I’m a Greek God… sadly, I’m just never that interested in her. (And it’s not because I think she has a sick and twisted notion for who constitutes a “Greek God.”) As it turns out, it’s not because she thinks I’m perfect that I lose interest in her. It’s because I’m not all that interested in her in the first place that she ends up thinking I’m perfect.
With this woman, I just don’t feel the need to be myself. When we first start dating someone, we all put up façades. We want to charm and to impress. We want to be perfect. So, we hide our faults and keep our idiosyncrasies in check. Well, I’ve had over three decades to uncover my own idiosyncrasies, and I certainly know how to hide them. I love to debate controversial topics, but maybe I choose not to engage her when she makes a passing comment that I disagree with. I can’t stand perpetual tardiness, but maybe I just smile when she shows up twenty minutes late for our date. I hate getting dirt on my furniture, but maybe I ignore the fact that she’s lying on my bed with her shoes on while we’re making out.
These are my idiosyncrasies, and I may not necessarily be ashamed of them. But, I also know that they don’t paint me in the best light. So, if I find that I like spending time with someone, but am not particularly interested in establishing a long-term relationship, I don’t feel the need to reveal the real me. It’s only once or twice a week that I have to act a certain way. As a result, this woman only sees my best side and may start believing that I am indeed perfect for her. Oops.
What about the woman I actually develop feelings for? Why am I more difficult around her? Well, I’d like to believe that it’s not because I’m trying to be difficult, or even that I’m a difficult person to begin with. I’m just not perfect. I do have my faults. I do have my idiosyncrasies. And with this woman, I need her to know the real me because I’m hoping to see her more than once or twice a week.
I know I’m falling in love when I catch myself daydreaming about spending the rest of my life with someone. Well, I certainly can’t maintain a façade for the rest of my life. So, I have to be myself around her. If she continues to broach controversial topics, I start responding with my own opinions, hoping that she will respect them. If she continues to be late every time we go out, I start pushing her to get ready sooner, hoping that she will understand my desire to be punctual. If we spend almost every night together, I start asking her to take off her shoes before getting on my bed, hoping that she will accept my dirt phobia.
With this woman, I have to stop hiding my quirks and weird habits because I am hoping that she will love me for who I truly am. She gets to see the real me, and if I’m lucky, she’ll fall in love with the real me.
And for me, that’s love’s greatest irony: the woman I fall in love with is the one I sometimes torment.
Now, I will acknowledge that I’m speaking for myself here. But, I’ve also been around long enough to believe that many people act this way. After all, we want to be attractive, so we build façades. And some of us have pretty damned impressive façades.
Of course, there is the chance that we might actually meet someone who truly is perfect for us in every way, and they’re not faking it. But, I liken that to winning the lottery: it can happen, but don’t count on it. So, we just have to accept reality and be willing to love the person we’re with for who they are (and hope that they will do the same for us).
If we truly love someone, we accept that they’re not perfect. And if we meet someone who seems perfect, it might be wise to delve a little deeper and try to discover who they really are and why they continue to maintain their façade.
So, I think the lesson here is quite simple. If you and I should ever become romantically involved, and you find that I have quirks and strange habits, or that I may be difficult at times, please understand that I’m hoping you will learn to love me for who I am. On the other hand, if you find me to be everything that you’ve ever wanted in a man… be careful, because I’m probably just not that into you.