"You have the gift of being able to see people for who they could be; just don't mistake that for who they are."
I knew he was right when he said it, and I also knew I was already making that mistake.
My history with love is not one with a happy ending – though “endings” I have had quite a few of. My track record with choosing relationships is not great…and by “not great” I mean it’s pretty horrific. In both myself and my friends I’ve seen a range of relationships that go from good to mediocre to straight-up abusive.
See, not all relationships need to be abusive to be “bad” sometimes it’s just not the right person or it’s just not the right time. And yet people still want to rush things, and, more importantly, people still want to stay.
When I talk to people about why we stay in bad and even abusive relationships, at some point the conversation inevitably leads to: “Love is blind.” I used to believe this to be true. But recently I’ve had some problems with it. See, if love is blind, that would mean I would have seen these guys for what they were in the beginning, and then, once falling in “love” with them, love would have assumingly made me “blind,” which would explain why I stuck around for all the abuse.
However, if I’d seen them for who they really were from the start – before being “blinded by love” – why would I have stayed? Would it not be assumed that, had I been in a position of being fully aware and had not yet put on the “rose-tinted glasses,” I would have pegged these guys as aggressive/distant/insensitive/dangerous and would have run as fast as I could in the other direction? But I didn’t run. Instead, I stayed. And it’s not that I knew who they were but stayed anyways; I didn’t know at all. I didn’t see it. In fact, from the moment of meeting them I really only saw what I was hoping to see and didn’t acknowledge any of the negative, which in hindsight is really quite obvious now. It would appear I was blinded all along. And this is what led me to a new conclusion:
It is not love that makes us blind, but our desire to have love that blinds us.
I always was the type who didn’t like being alone; I always wanted to have someone. And I think, deep down, we all have a natural desire for a partner, someone to share life with, someone to make us feel loved, protected, and, most importantly, wanted. I know I do. And in some of us (especially when we are in a vulnerable place) this desire becomes a need, and when we need something, we will do anything to get it, and our mind may even begin to play tricks on us. It’s like the cartoon character trudging through the desert feeling thirsty and hopeless until on the horizon he sees beautiful palm trees and a hammock next to a crystal clear pool of fresh water, but as we all know, this vision isn’t real; it is imagined – it is his thirst that makes him susceptible to such a mirage, his desire. Unfortunately for us, by the time we realize our oasis is nothing but a pile of sand, we are usually already in too deep.
And even if we somehow are awakened and our eyes are opened to the truth, and we even get the strength to leave, that doesn’t mean we suddenly are “healed” from our blindness, because as long as we don’t deal with the actual issue (which is never actually about the guy or girl), we will still possess that need to be wanted, and we will still chase after it blindly. Why do you think so many people return to the same bad relationships? Or bounce from one bad relationship to another? (and I am speaking from experience, here) It’s because they never dealt with the real issue, they never dealt with their need to be in love.
If you don’t address your need to have someone, then you will remain blind – not by love, but for love.
I know because this is what happened to me. I never dealt with the underlying issues that made me feel incomplete without someone to attach myself to, and so I remained blind and I didn’t see things that were glaringly obvious to onlookers: the emotional roller coasters, the exploitation, the verbal abuse. And, instead, I saw only what would keep me hanging around, the things that would justify in my own mind why this was someone worth falling for.
We blind ourselves to many things, not all of them as serious as abuse, yet still things that shouldn’t be ignored. We blind ourselves to the reality that maybe the other person just isn’t quite ready for a relationship, or maybe we aren’t, for that matter. We blind ourselves to the face that he/she really hasn’t changed and is still repeating old patterns of behaviour. We blind ourselves to the fact we disagree with the other person on things that are of great significance – spiritual beliefs, feelings about marital counseling, or core values. And we even blind ourselves to the compatibility of the relationship itself, pretending that everything is just great, meanwhile you have no mutual interests, you think his taste in movies sucks, and you can’t relate on any deep level – this is when we tend to make the other person’s interests our own, attempting to morph our own identity with his/hers.
And it is all done subconsciously because instinctively we will do whatever it takes to acquire that which our body or our mind believes it needs to survive.
And our mind is telling us we need to be in love.
I told my friend I understand why people stay in really bad relationships (“We accept the love we think we deserve, Charlie” *) and I obviously understand why people stay in really good relationships, but what I don’t understand is why people settle for mediocre. But I think now I do: We settle because we don’t even realize we are settling. We settle because we are blind. And we are not blind because we are in love, we are in love because we are blind. There is a difference.