Finding Joy Through (Perfectly) Imperfect Relationships
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | March 2015 (edited 4-1-2021)
Faulty expectations destroy healthy connections. When grounded in reality, we can enjoy the imperfect bonds of love.
Relationships are a curious thing—full of give and take. Any relationship, the bonding of two imperfect and different people, encounters a few bumps and bruises as the couple acclimates to each others peculiarities and preferences. Loving partners adapt and adjust, accepting rather than fixing. Successful relationships do not demand perfect harmony, but, rather, successful managing of differences.
Social connections, at a party, at work and at home expand the experience of living. We need connections. I am a bit of a recluse, much like my father. But I still need connections. Some, naturally gifted, easily connect; others, like me, struggle.
My shyness creates a natural sensitivity. Small gestures can ignite painful ruminations and fears. Yet, I have learned through the years—and heartaches—that these emotional reactions are more about me and my sensitivities than the triggering event.
Imperfect Bonds is the inevitable discomforts of intimate connections. Relationships provide many wonderful benefits but closeness comes at a cost.
Over the years, I have forcefully pushed past the natural shyness and created new connections. The shyness still exists. Inner forces of shame cripple, but I march forward despite the disabling demons.
Working against our nature is like keeping a misaligned car from running off the roadway. We keep our hands on the wheel; our sights on the goal; and engage in the demanding work to get there. Our minds interfere, making excuses, projecting blame, and denying realities but ultimately, it is our lives. We must live with the consequences whether stuck in a ditch on the side of the road or happily parked at home. We can't expect partners to placate our oversensitive natures. Overbearing and unfair expectations strangles relationships.
We must accept that part of an intimate connection is heightened emotions—both joyous and frightening
Through casual introspection, we fail to see a clear picture. The mind seamlessly distorts reality to conform to subjective beliefs. Past pains and pleasures bias current observations—especially observations of the self. If we struggle with shame, the slightest imperfection becomes an uncrossable gulf. Self-appraisals, instead of instructive, bombard our senses disturbing equilibrium and prevent sleep. Our automatic response seeks to calm the storms, implementing safe-guards that maintain homeostasis—distorting reality to keep it manageable.
Perplexingly, we speak rudely but fail to recognize the rudeness. Through our blindness, we lose friends, destroy romances and limit business opportunities; but remain dumbfounded to the cause of these losses. The world appears crazy. Unrecognized internal disruptions create the conditions for blame.
A destructive mindset misdirects thoughts, instead of soothing momentary emotions, we react, harming our futures, pushing us further from intentions. This poisonous approach to experience expresses an internal hostility; the unknown forces wreak havoc and we are befuddled on how to resolve the repeating failures. We hate life and eventually hate ourselves.
Through our blindness, we lose friends, destroy romances and limit business opportunities; but remain dumbfounded to the cause of these losses.
Personal Responsibility in Relationships
In relationships, we excuse our harsh damaging words with psychological mush. We find a quotation, take it out of complex, and use it to support our sociopathic dysfunction. During an argument, we belittle, shame and hurt but then sooth our guilt by saying, “They needed to hear that" or "If they can't accept me as I am, then it is their problem." Both arguments—on the surface—appear legitimate; but disguise the tactless approach to connection that contributes to the repeated failing relationships.
See the Intent to Hurt for more on this topic
We protect self-image by limiting awareness. The immediate benefit of soothed emotions comes at the cost of continued disruptions. By dodging responsibility, we never change the damaging behaviors. Happiness doesn’t require the introvert to become an extrovert. I never will. We can leave the party entertainment to natural extroverts. But we are social creatures. A rich satisfying life requires healthy social interactions. We must catch a glimpse at our inadequacy, grab a hold of the wheel and keep the car on the road.
We don't need perfection for happiness. We don't need to be perfect nor does our partner. We can find great joy in imperfection.
We must examine a little closer, looking at patterns, identifying growth-limiting projections and the damaging dodging of blame. We’ll still feel shame; but we can giggle at the intrusion, realizing the feelings come from ancient programming. It’s easy to identify fault in others; they are imperfect. But fault finding is unproductive, misdirecting focus, destroying relationships.
In our imperfections, we can connect with imperfect others. The imperfect bonds will challenge and bless. Our skills, with effort, improve. We find ways to calm our emotional woes and move towards healthier and happier connections.
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