Know it all, liar, messy, neat freak, indecisive, needy, homebody, world traveler, party girl, party boy, lazy, hyper organized, cheater, sarcastic, tactless, short tempered, pushover, confrontational, controlling, spendthrift, uber frugal.
Imagine if we all wore our flaws where potential mates could see them. A la “The Scarlet Letter,” you would write your top few flaws on sign with a string around your neck and potential suitors could decide whether to stop or keep walking.
I’m not a relationship expert, psychologist or matchmaker. But, I spent 16 years with someone I was truly ill-suited for, five years talking with a therapist on a weekly basis and have a group of like-minded women with whom I’ve walked through divorce and singledom and into coupledom with. What 16 years with my ex, five years in therapy and my girlfriends helped me realize is that we all have our shit. And one key to a successful and happy relationship is determining if your shit can work well with his shit. Or her shit. No one, no couple is perfect but two people can be a pretty perfect match.
After years of unsuccessfully twisting myself into a pretzel to try and be what someone else wanted, I’ve unraveled myself and instead have spent that energy figuring out what truly does and does not work for me. Now I’m making (what I hope) are better choices. I’ve made a concerted effort to show the real me to my man and he’s seen my good, bad and ugly.
I’m organized and in times of stress and chaos I organize more. This results in emails and calls to confirm plans and coordinate our schedules down to the minute. He indulges me best he can. I have high, at times unfair expectations. He communicates clearly when I have jumped the shark into unrealistic territory. When I get on my soapbox he kindly pushes me off and when I land on the ground with a thud, he offers to help me up. When I get bristly, my edges sharpen and my words are my swords. He knows it’s more about me than him and offers love instead of a counter attack. And when I start spinning too fast he listens and slows me down. He handles the moments I’m at my worst with grace, which ultimately brings me back around to my more ideal self.
It’s not because he is superhuman or a pushover. It’s not because he is perfect (sorry babe). It’s because, for whatever reason, my flaws aren’t kryptonite to him. The same holds true in reverse. His less than perfect self makes me want to help and not punish, aid not chastise. His shit is ok with me.
Still, even when your shit works with his (or her) shit, it doesn’t mean everything will be prefect. You’ll still have ailing kids and aging parents. Taxes, jobs, illness, stress, life! But when your stuff works together, you can laugh, make mistakes without making war, enjoy sexy sex and argue kindly.
I’m guessing wearing our flaws on signs around our necks is not a movement that’ll gain traction. I’m not holding my breath waiting to see throngs of singles walking into happy hour with personal placards. But, it’s worth solo investigation. Recognizing what your shit is takes a healthy dose of self-awareness and the ability to check your ego at the door. Take a peek at yourself and determine what usually trips you up with friends, family and former loves. Recall that which you most often apologize for and what, when someone else points it out, makes you defensive and upset. Those are your flaws.
Successful relationships aren’t about making sure some “line” isn’t crossed. Life is lived everyday in millions of small moments and it’s the peace and synchronicity in those small moments that counts. Years go by fast and one regret I’ve got is the time I wasted trying to stuff a round peg into a square hole. Not every relationship is meant to be an epic love story. There’s nothing wrong with short and sweet. It’s better than long and miserable.
We all want to put our best foot forward and you don’t need to start off a first date by prattling your list of sins. But life will get in the way of pretense so maybe by date three or four; let your true, imperfect self shine.