Relationships, especially intimate relationships, provide one of the greatest opportunities for us to learn and grow. For some this takes on a spiritual dimension, whether just in the sense of there being the spiritual bonding advocated by orthodox religion or through those relationships offering us a great context within which to build towards our spiritual objectives (a la Zukav or A Course in Miracles).
I have observed that our appreciation and understand for another person can be slanted in at least three ways:
- We can see people as they are,
- We can see people as they could be, and
- We can see people as they are not.
I’d guess that these are largely mutually exclusive within a specific context, though across a relationship they may vary. Their importance would probably vary by the stage of the relationship, and are likely to be impacted by the age and maturity of the parties.
Having done an MBA, perhaps I should find a way to create a two-by-two matrix. With that in mind, perhaps I could create an axis for “present” and another for “future”, with an either discrete or continuous scale for each. This would yield the following four alternatives:
- Future accurate, Present accurate
We see them as they are and how they will be.
- Future accurate, Present inaccurate
We understand where they are going, but don’t understand them today.
- Future inaccurate, Present accurate
We see them as they are now, but don’t understand who they will be in the future.
- Future inaccurate, Present inaccurate
We misunderstand who they are today and don’t understand where they are going.
Great relationships in the short term come from appreciating and valuing that other person in the short term… but a sustainable relationship demands congruence of values, purpose and direction in the longer term. This is always difficult – especially when we are young – and getting it wrong can be very expensive.
When I started dating one girl, we shared a lot in common. We had very similar values, intended a similar future and came from a similar background. After dating for a time we realised that our intentions had diverged – we had grown in different directions. We could characterise that as being “Accurate present, Inaccurate future”. This contrasted with another girl, where we shared a common vision for the future, but her impression of me was inaccurate.
To an extent, we see who we are. When we appreciate and notice anger and violence, we tend to bring that into our lives; when we notice peace, love and openness, we likewise tend to bring that into our lives and bring that out in those around us.
Ultimately, I don’t believe that love isn’t blind so much as it has a set of transition lenses on that gradually get lighter as the intensity of time, experience and openness with that other person forces us to face the truth.