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Are you Difficult to Love?

Self reflection is the key to life

By Ash MartinPublished 8 months ago 4 min read

The idea that one is, in many ways, an extremely difficult person to be in a relationship with may sound rather improbable and even, at points, offensive. Yet, fully understanding and readily and graciously admitting to this possibility might be the surest way of making sure one is an endurable proposition over the long term. There are few people more deeply insufferable than those who don't, at regular intervals, suspect they might be, so we are all of us invariably hugely tricky characters. We don't need to know anyone in particular to know this about everyone. We have all, in some way or another, been inadequately parented. We have a panoply of unfortunate psychological traits; we're beset by bad habits; we're anxious, jealous, ill-tempered, and vain. We are bringing an awesome amount of trouble into someone else's life by agreeing to be their partner. We tend to be shielded from this unwelcome news prior to a big relationship through a mixture of sentimentality and neglect. Our parents loved us too much to tell us; our friends don't want to get bogged down in detailed critiques of our personalities—a pleasant occasional meal is all they want from us, and our exes were too keen to escape from us to offer up a helpfully detailed critique of our personalities; they simply told us they needed a little bit more space or needed to take a long trip to India. Furthermore, when we're on our own, we just don't notice how annoying we might well be in the eyes of others. Perhaps we were in a sulk for the whole of Sunday, but no one was there to be driven crazy by our self-pity and our passive fury. We may have tendencies to use our work as an escape from intimacy, but so long as we're not permanently with someone, we can pass off our eccentric hours without comment; our peculiar eating habits won't be real until there is another person across the table to register our challenging chewing sounds and ingredient combinations. Eventually, a partner will call us out on these traits; it feels like a horrible personal attack which a nicer person wouldn't put us through, but it's no such thing; it's an inevitable response to our failings, which anyone would need eventually to bring up. Our partner is not really doing anything odd; they're merely holding up a mirror. Everyone seen close-up has an appalling amount wrong with their characters; it's not us, it's the human condition. The specifics vary hugely, of course; people are nightmarish in different ways, but the basic point is there, whatever we think or feel about ourselves, we will be revealed as sorely defective upon close-up prolonged inspection. Sadly, it's not that our partner is being too critical or unusually demanding; they are the bearer of an inevitable bit of bad news—that we are a nightmare. Being asked to acknowledge one's flaws isn't a request to admit something very strange; what would be strange would be to think that one was without major defects. Of course, we have some delightful qualities as well, but it does mean that we are unavoidably going to be very hard for another person to live around. We need, therefore, to ask ourselves, in as candid a manner as we can manage, what specifically might be slightly crazy or desperate or undeveloped in our characters. Maturity involves having quite a detailed answer to the question, "How are you difficult to live with?" A presumption of one's own innocence is at the heart of self-righteousness and cruelty. Because our minds may go blank at this point and remember only our tender and beautiful sides, we should lean on a set of prompts. For example, when I'm annoyed, I have a tendency to... when I feel hurt, I... when I'm tired, I... around money, I can be a bit difficult because I guess I worry really quite a lot about... I suppose I might be a bit of a handful around sex because... The point of prompting greater awareness of our questionable patterns of behavior isn't to feel guilty or ashamed about them, just to see how easily they could be confusing, disturbing, and annoying to another person. We need, before we commit ourselves to a relationship, to get fully acquainted with all the ways in which we are going to be a serious challenge to live around. Our relationship reboot cards inspire conversations that can help to rekindle love between you and your partner.

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About the Creator

Ash Martin

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