Our culture strongly inclines us to the view
that genuine love must involve complete acceptance
of another person in their good and
especially in their somewhat bad sides.
In moments of fury with our partners,
we may be tempted to dismiss their complaints against us, with the cry:
“Just love me as I am!”
but in truth none of us should want to remain
exactly as we are in love and therefore none
of us should, too strongly, want another person to love
as opposed to tolerate or simply forgive what is warped within us.
Genuine love might be defined
as gently and kindly helping someone to become the best version of themselves,
not accepting themselves precisely as they are.
It isn’t a betrayal of love for someone
to try to help us to evolve, to
teach us, to become better people.
In fact, it may be the highest proof of genuine commitment.
Unfortunately,under this way
of a romantic ideology that makes us suspicious
of emotional education,
most of us end up being terrible teachers and equally terrible students in relationships.
We don’t accept the legitimacy,
let alone the nobility
of others desire to teach us and we can’t acknowledge areas, where
we might need to be taught.
We rebel against the very structure of a lover’s education
that would enable criticism to be molded
into sensible sounding lessons and to be heard as
caring attempts to reject the more troublesome aspects of our personalities.
At the first sign that the other person is adopting a”teacherly” tone, we tend to
assume that we’re being attacked and betrayed and therefore
we close our ears to the instruction reacting
with sarcasm and aggression to the teacher.
Our stance is deeply understandable. To the mother everything
about her tiny infant is delightful.
They wouldn’t change even the smallest thing; their baby
is perfect just as it is.
Our idea of love has taken this kind of attitude very much to heart.
It’s what we grow up thinking that love is supposed to be like.
The suggestion that another person could
want us to change grow or improve is taken as an insult to love.
The problem is,
the mother never in fact loved us just as we were.
She hoped we would keep growing up.
And the need to keep growing up is still there.
Our bodies may be fully formed but our
psyches always have some growing up still to do.
We should never hold it against our lovers
if they don’t love us just as we are.
They’re doing something far more generous— wanting us to be a little better.
If you want to learn more about love,
try our book on how to find love, which explains why
we have the types we do,
and how our early experiences give us scripts of how, and whom we love.