Have you ever heard the phrases “turning a blind eye” or “seeing through rose colored glasses?” This means that someone chooses to see only what they want to see, and overlooks the negative factors. However, the negative behavior still happens. The other person just chooses to overlook it. No one is perfect and we live with their imperfections, just as they live with ours. The important factor is knowing the difference between what we can truly live with and what we cannot.
What Happens When You Overlook the Negative?
Negative behavior will eventually affect the relationship if it goes unchecked or you don’t address it. Let’s take the example of Jane and Bob. Jane is responsible for the bills, but she never seems to meet the due dates, and begins to rack up late fees. We most often choose a person who balances our qualities, and Jane and Bob fit this profile. Bob resents her for the impact of the recurring late fees and subsequent declining credit scores. If Bob overlooks this negative impact, Jane will form a habit that conflicts with his value system, eventually causing serious harm to the relationship.
Bob and Jane can provide other example problems: Perhaps Jane is consistently late and Bob values being on time, and especially does not want to negatively affect others involved. Or perhaps Bob has a pattern of clearly lying to Jane. Jane will find it impossible to feel emotionally safe with Bob if he continues to lie to benefit himself.
Often we fear of losing the relationship so we choose to avoid addressing an action in our partner that contradicts our own values. Or perhaps we fear hurting their feelings. Choosing to address the problem does not necessarily mean we are judging the other person. It is about living our life according to our own values. And when we live with someone we are more easily affected by their values and they are affected by ours. Not addressing the issue builds a wall of resentment or vulnerability. And of course, the negative behavior will likely continue. Eventually the relationship will decline in emotional health and value.
“He (She) Ain’t Gonna Change”
We often pick someone with the hope of changing them. In reality, their core values and beliefs work for them, just as ours work for us. Therefore, they have no need to change what has taken a lifetime to build. When you choose a partner you must accept all of their qualities and accept the probability that they will not significantly change.
We do what we want to do and we don’t do what we don’t want to do. That is why I always look at the end result of everything. If something works for someone they are more likely to continue doing it. If it doesn’t work for them, then they will choose to fix it or not. Either way, it is out of your control.
What You Can Do
Make sure you truly see the person and how they function in their life. This forms the second of the 4 Pillars Of Dating And Relationships I addressed in a past article.
- Pillar #1: No Agenda. Do not enter a relationship with an ulterior motive ie: being married by 30 years of age.
- Pillar #2: Eyes Open and Willing to See.
- Pillar #3: Skills and Concepts that create a healthy relationship
- Pillar #4: TIME. If you practice the other three pillars for at least 6 months you will know the true nature of the person you are dating.
Talk to the person about the negative behaviors that make you feel uncomfortable or emotionally unsafe. It is not about judging the person, but explaining how you feel and why you feel the way you do. Is he truly willing to work on these behaviors? You will know over time.
See if the person continues to work on those issues for at least 6 months consistently. (Pillar #4.) It doesn’t mean they need to be perfect, but both of you will need to continue your ongoing discussions regarding the conflict in your different values. As a result of these ongoing talks you must determine if the issues are fixable and if the partner is truly willing to work on improving them.
Some behaviors or practices are more significant than others. Consistently failing to take out the trash is less significant than cheating or habitually lying . The latter behaviors reflect their values, which often do not change over time.
If you are truly invested in this relationship you may want to consider seeking professional guidance in couples counseling. However, it takes both people to make it work.
Habits or Values That Are Unacceptable
Violence, being disrespectful to a mate or others, breaking the law, being habitually unfaithful, even in a past relationship, are all very serious signs of an unhealthy relationship. In addition, you cannot feel emotionally safe with someone whose actions do not match their words. Your partner must consistently come through with their words and commitments. Think very carefully before committing to someone who practices any of these unacceptable and hurtful behaviors.
Hopefully by now it is clear why you can’t pick and choose those characteristics in someone you deeply care about. That’s why I recommend creating a Must Have List before beginning a relationship. We all have qualities that we cherish and believe in. We also have those qualities that don’t work for us or do not help us to feel good about ourselves. However, when choosing a mate, you need to distinguish between those things you can truly live with, and those you cannot. When you choose a mate you must take all of the person because those negative qualities and behaviors may never change.