You Can't Love Who They're Going To Be

I have a very close friend who is experiencing girl troubles. These aren't new girl troubles. These girl troubles have been the same girl troubles for nearly a year now. I don't mind talking about these girl troubles with him. God knows he's heard enough of my troubles to fill a book... Or three of them. And more.

It's probably a really familiar situation if you've ever, you know... Known anyone who has ever been in a relationship ever. It goes something like this:

  • The two are incompatible, but "love" each other
  • One does something to set the other off (in this instance, she took a very long time to decide on a menu item at a restaurant, he rolled his eyes, but caught it before it was a full eye-roll. She caught it anyway, and they fought and didn't speak for several days).
  • They try to talk it out, but end up fighting more
  • They agree to just let it go
  • They realize they are incompatible, but "love" each other

I don't lie when I give people advice. I won't remove the truth from the equation just to make them feel better. I am honest and direct, and I have told him several times that they are incompatible. "But I love her," he will reply, adding on that perennial super mega favorite of unhappy people in relationships, "I can change her."

I sigh. He hears it. He knows what's next. I explain to him that no one can change anyone else. People can decide to change for the sake of another person, but you can't MAKE them. All of the changing I've ever done in my life (and believe me, it's a lot) has always been my own decision. I've sometimes thought that someone made me change, but no. No one can make you change. If you change, it's because you decided to.

He explained that, yes, right now they're incompatible, "If she could just be the person I know she can be..."

Then, during this particular conversation, something came out of me that really hit me hard. It's something I've always known, but have never put into words, and it's something I wanted to share with you.

I told him "You cannot love what she will or might be. You can only love what she is. Love with conditions isn't love. So the question is, do you love her?"

I haven't heard a reply.

But I will tell you it put into perspective quite a number of decisions I've made in my life, and have yet to make. This applies to everything -- marriage, dating, friendships, jobs, careers, missions...

If you don't love what it is right now, you don't love it. To claim otherwise is either a lie or a delusion.

So the question you have to ask yourself in this situation is really "How long am I going to trade long term misery for periodic, short term happiness?"

Or, more directly, "How long am I going to keep wasting my time hoping the situation adjusts to my desires, instead of finding a better situation?"

If you love someone, you encourage them to be the best they can be and to be happy and to aspire to greatness. But you don't wait until they become those things to love them. That's not love. The same thing goes for your job -- if you're miserable, but keep holding out for "but maybe it'll get better" you don't love your job. You love your aspiration. You love your dream. You love your imagination.

In other words, you're delusional -- likely as a self-defense tactic to justify the pain of being in a situation you hate.

When you realize reality disagrees with your perception, you have one of two choices: accept it and change yourself or your surroundings, or attempt to bend the whole of reality including the wills, desires, thoughts and actions of other people, to meet your needs.

The second isn't impossible, of course. But I will say that entire nations have fallen and millions, if not billions, of people have died because someone decided to do the second thing -- and throughout history, none of them have ever gotten what they wanted. Even Alexander wept when there were no more worlds to conquer. I'm pretty sure your attempts to climb the corporate ladder at your job so you won't hate it will probably suffer no better fate.

However, everyone -- every single person -- I've ever met who has done the first has been happier and better for it.

If you're in love with what could be, by definition, you are not in love with what is. Decide if you'd rather be lazy or happy and act accordingly.