We should, in theory, be nicer to our partners than to anyone else in the world, a lot nicer than, for example, we are with any of our friends. We like the latter; we love the former. But, in fact, we're often monsters in love. What explains our bad behavior that there's so much at stake?
Friends are with us just for the evening. Our mutual challenges may go no further than the need to locate a half-decent restaurant. But the person we love has to be our best friend, confidant, nurse, financial advisor, chauffeur, co-parent, and sex mate. No wonder they can't succeed in every area, but that we expect so much from them.
In love, a problem that would not have to be maddening in and of itself, perhaps a towel on the floor or a chewing sound, can unleash catastrophic anxiety when we feel that this may be a more or less permanent feature of the one life we've been granted on this earth. At the backs of our minds driving our agitation on during domestic struggles is a simple explosive thought that the other person hasn't just done this or that thing we find problematic; they have ruined our lives.
We aren't monsters with our friends, because they have no capacity to do as much damage. We need to have invested a lot in someone before we'll be motivated to scream at them, slam doors on them, and call them an asshole when they let us down.
Paradoxically, love makes us feel safe enough to be horrible. If we were intemperate with our friends, they'd very soon make excuses to stop seeing us. But love lends us the safety to reveal our more disturbed emotions and show our partner who we really are. And that's a privilege we would, in truth, be wiser and kinder never fully to share with anyone.
To edge us away from self-righteousness and fury, we should, at moments of frustration, accept that we haven't come together with someone unusually incompetent. We're trying to do something unusually hard that everyone in the world fails at to some degree—not least us. We should blame the task, not our colleague. And we should at all times bear in mind, too, how hard we are to deal with. Nothing makes us into monsters faster than the illusion that we are on the whole really quite simple to be around. If we sincerely believe this, we haven't begun to know the very first thing about ourselves.
Asking someone to love you and be with you is a pretty mean thing to suggest to anyone you really want the best for. We should try not to make it harder than it needs to be.
- 「有風險」- At Stake
What explains our bad behavior that there's so much at stake?
- 「慢慢脫離」- Edge Away
To edge us away from self-righteousness and fury, we should, at moments of frustration, accept that we haven't come together with someone unusually incompetent.
- 「尤其是、特別是」- Not Least
We're trying to do something unusually hard that everyone in the world fails at to some degree—not least us.