A student I was working with told me that he wanted more confidence—he wanted to do well with girls. When I asked him what he meant by “doing well,” he told me that most of the girls he approached at the bar didn’t seem interested in him. I asked him why that was a problem and he said that he was a young man and that he was failing if that didn’t happen. It was supposed to happen.
Okay. First off nothing is supposed to happen. What you mean when you say that is that you wanted and expected it to happen. But wanting and expecting aren’t forces that shape other people’s actions, so if you’re going to want and expect then be prepared to be disappointed. Secondly, I asked my friend why he got to order every girl in the bar around? He said he didn’t want to order them around. I said he actually did.
I asked him if he found every girl in the bar attractive. “Obviously not,” he said as he rolled his eyes. Do you think you should have to dance with every girl that thinks you’re attractive? More eye rolling. “No! Just because she likes me doesn’t mean I’m going to like her.”
So he’s not supposed to be hassled with the girls he doesn’t find personally attractive, but every girl he approaches is supposed to find him attractive? He thought about that silently for a second.
Blink blink. He got it.
He realized that the women weren’t rejecting him, they were simply looking for what they were naturally attracted to just like he was. He suddenly realized that the beginning of a relationship is simply when both people feel that attraction. And if that relationship moves forward it’s because both people naturally have compatible thoughts about what they would like to see happen after that. So nobody’s ever really rejected. It’s just that some matches are one-way and some are two-way.
Even if the two people enjoy an easy, mutual attraction, they still must maintain their awareness. Each will unwittingly have a definition of “the relationship” and they will wrongly assume their partner shares that definition. They probably overlap a lot. But never completely.
The people in the relationship are individuals. So a partner isn’t wrong if they don’t want the same things you do whether those things are material, social, intellectual or physical. If a someone’s worked very hard all week, then they aren’t failing anyone if they want to take their weekend to relax instead of doing home renovations. They are simply expressing what’s important to them as an individual. If the identity of the relationship starts to take precedence over each person’s identity as an individual, then the relationship will move to shaky ground simply because love or no love, we cannot sustain being someone we are not. And marriage does not change who we are. It simply means that someone has chosen to live alongside who we are.
Not everything is like the decision to have children or not. There are very few instances that are so absolute that a couple cannot agree to disagree. 99% of arguments could stop simply because they are entirely pointless. But we don’t listen for that. We don’t listen for opportunities to bring peace to our relationship. We look for opportunities to be right.
Let go of your need to be right. Relax into a beautiful world of differing views where you don’t need to spend any energy winning anyone over, or convincing anyone of anything. You can do it with your parents, siblings, spouse, children, friends and co-workers. You just have to change your idea that things are right when they’re the way you want them, and instead have it be that things are right when everyone feels free to express who they are without fear of a price being exacted. Even if that truth is that they don’t want to dance with you.
The next time you hear an opinion you disagree with just relax and let it be. It won’t hurt you in the slightest and it’s better for the other person too. This is particularly important in a society where we all take turns being the other person. So open your mind. Co-exist happily with those you disagree with. Do that and you will enjoy your days.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own over-thinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.