This Way Up

January 04, 2013 | | Comments 0


We all have flaws, quirks, and the things that set us apart both in good and bad ways.  Deciding to be in a relationship with someone means accepting their flaws, loving those quirks, and bragging about the things you most love about the other.  It’s easy to find things you like in someone else.  Think about it – you go out, you make eye contact with the opposite sex, and like what you see.  Conversation is initiated and, in my case, if the guy has quick wit, is employed, and doesn’t smoke, I’m willing to stick around another 5 minutes to determine if I like the guy enough to exchange phone numbers.  Easy.

The problem comes when we further get to know someone and uncover his or her “flaws” and quirks.  It’s the decision of whether or not you can continue with the things that irk you which determine if the relationship will continue.  Anyone who has ever dated me will tell you that one of my major flaws is being directionally challenged.  If there was someone who found this characteristic cute, I don’t recall.  Even I find this to be ridiculously annoying.  Just last weekend I was in Penn Station, a place that 500,000 people pass through daily using the displayed directions to find Amtrak, Long Island Railroad (LIRR), and the subway.  I followed the LIRR signs to the best of my ability for 10 minutes to find myself exactly where I had started  (an epic fail that didn’t shock me, but irritated the hell out of my significant other).  It’s this flaw that he takes into consideration when he weighs my flaws against the things he loves to determine if I’m worth the effort.

The good news for me, and really all of us, is that none of us are perfect.  Thus, the reason the term “perfect for each other” was coined.  The question then becomes how do we, as individuals, weigh the good and bad to determine what really matters and whether or not to keep a relationship?

Do not lose yourself!

If someone causes you to doubt your self-worth, become involved in things that are not aligned with your values, tries to turn you into someone you are not, or places you at physical or emotional risk, this is a major red flag.  Of course, in order not to lose yourself, you have to first know who you are as an individual.  Dating is part of the process of discovering ones self during youth, but when your gut tells you something is off or wrong, it usually is.  Learn to trust your instincts while discovering who you are and once you know your inner self, defend those instincts and don’t allow others to change your core values.

Have a Vision.

Know what your vision of a strong relationship is by understanding what you are looking for in a partner.  Are you family oriented?  Do you see yourself being with a smoker?  Does an income or job title matter to you?  There are as many people who don’t care if their significant other is honest and loyal as long as they can afford to provide them with a certain lifestyle, as people who couldn’t care less about status and titles as long as they feel loved and respected.  The choice is yours and the only people who need to understand your desires are you and your partner.

See the Big Picture.

Be aware that every relationship has its ups and downs, twists and turns.  There are times when communication can be difficult and require far more compassion, patience, and understanding than we ever wanted to give in order to maintain the relationship.  The beautiful thing is that life often has a way of showing us which direction we should go.  If life is showing you that your partner isn’t the person you should be with, allow yourself to experience the necessary emotions (anger, sadness, relief, etc.), learn the lesson the failed relationship is teaching, and move on – quickly.  On the other hand, if life is showing you to hang in there and providing you with multiple reasons of why your relationship makes you happy and will continue to do so, commit yourself to doing the work needed to have open, honest, and fair communication with your partner to overcome the problem at hand.  Allow both yourself and your partner the time needed to make necessary adjustments emotionally.  Some changes cannot be made overnight, but seeing active participation in reaching agreed upon goals is often times enough for partners to gain needed patience and offer additional support to the partner they’ve compromised with.  Regardless of how short or long the necessary time is, know that if you and your partner are committed to the change and both actively working towards it, your relationship is on a healthy and positive path.

Identify Deal Breakers.

Certain activities should be deal breakers in any relationship.  Examples of immediate relationship-enders are abuse and illegal activities.  These two activities should never be tolerated and require both self-respect and immediate removal from the relationship.  Other deal breakers for many people are infidelity, substance abuse, lack of respect, questionable hygiene, and extreme financial difficulties.  It’s important to know what your relationship-enders are and to remain committed to yourself when these are present.  Many deal breakers can be discussed and compromised on, but abuse or illegal activity are not discussable and anyone who loves you in a healthy way would never put you through either of these.  Ever.


Believe that you are worth someone overlooking your flaws and that you will find a partner who has quirks you’ll be able to overlook and build a strong, loving, supportive, and emotionally satisfying relationship.  Whether you compromise on accepting your partners continued tardiness due to directional challenges, differences in eating habits, fantasy football, or bathroom etiquette, know that every relationship comes with its own set of challenges that only you can decide if they are worth overlooking or working on to build the relationship that will ultimately fit your vision and bring you continued happiness.

–  Laura Casselman

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