Aug 20, 2012

deep thoughts brought you by ikea

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it over and over again: people’s priorities are revealed by their actions. People do what they are.

And yes,  to be fair, a lot of people are pretty dysfunctional and suffer from a lack of self knowledge. So sometimes they do and say counterproductive things.

But still…still I find, as often as not, that one of the biggest mistakes people make when entering a discussion is the presumption of shared values and goals.

I mean, you’ll notice it even in the most basic ridiculous misunderstandings. I once heard a couple fighting about curtains in a store. They kept confusing each other and picking out weird shit the other did not want and the compromises were getting less and less satisfying and finally, and after a while they weren’t even picking out things they wanted themselves. When the poor sales person started asking some basic questions it turned out there was a very basic issue at play: one person felt comforted by small, dark, womb like spaces, and the other one wanted every room to be a sun palace. They had come to pick out curtains to make the room more comfortable. But, for some reason this couple had never had a real conversation about what that meant. Or maybe they had begun that conversation and walked awy not truly believing that the other could want, what they wanted, or that they could sway taste and prefence with just the right shade or color.  But I could hear them NOT GETTING IT over and over again: Didn’t she understand that sunlight and air were good for her and that she would just feel better if they opened up the space and made it more comfortable? Didn’t he understand that she felt exposed and couldn’t relax in the sunny day room with all those hard spaces he was constructing?  Why did she want to hole up in a dark dusty room and ignore the sun? Why was he so cold, so opposed to privacy and real colors?

I mean, here you have this girl holding up lush velvet drapes stroking their comfort and here you have this dude holding these cheerful clean linen curtains and feeling their joy and somehow, not only could they not accept that one could want what they other did not, but they even still seemed to think they could share a common aesthetic goal.

You know, people are different. And I think one of the biggest mistakes couples make is fearing difference and wishing they were more alike, or even better, thinking they can wish eachother into being more alike.
But ofcourse, the first make is not checking in first place to find out what the other really, truly wants.

Presuming love means agreement. Presuming love necessitates agreement.

Because, no doubt, in many cases, compromises can be made if everyone’s needs are acknowledged and respected. You can construct a quiet dark sumptuous  room and a big sunny room in the same house if you can afford a home with more than one room.

But not if your goal is to also live in a studio.

Not if one of you wants to come home to a dark womb in the suburb among pets and kids and friends and the other dreams of a big open sunny flat downtown where there is a few scan fish bowls and limited contacts and obligations.

This is the thing people sometimes forget: if you love someone, you need to respect what they want, without value and judgment.  And you owe it to the people you love to encourage growth towards their desires, even if their desires seem unfathomable to you.

And you also need to truly consider if your wants are cohesive with your wants.  Because sitting around waiting for someone to change into someone far more like you is a long, frustrating and fruitless game.

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