(Or get out!)

I know that we often talk about being real, about being authentic, about how we want people to be genuine, yet we aren’t always ready to accept people as they are. I’m not talking about the gamesmanship of dating: as far as I’m concerned, that’s about (or should be about) breaking your potential significant other to the real you in degrees. We are who we are. Dating shouldn’t be a time of hiding who we are (though we don’t need to give the full monty right off the bat – there’s no such thing as instant intimacy. Allow folks to ease into the joy of you. It’s similar to the principle of why babies are so cute: you get charmed by their cuteness so that by the time the terrible twos come, your stuck in love with them.)

We are who we are. So you need to consider a couple things at this point: you probably aren’t going to change that person; and you’re going to have to learn what you can accept and accommodate.

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People these days pay a lot of attention to the bedroom décor. Apart from the beds, there are additional things to consider like rugs, setting, tables, chairs and of course, home lighting, since there are so many lightings to choose from today.
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One of the “drawbacks” of waiting so long to get married is that there is extra time for a person to become entrenched in who they are. They become more used to doing things a certain (read: their) way and used to not having to answer to anyone else or make room for anyone else in their lives. Habits are cementing themselves. My wife and I were just discussing whether or not we’d get married again should something happen to one of us. I said that I could theoretically get married again, I just don’t want the headache of breaking in someone new (what we’ll call the lament of high maintenance folks). [it should be noted that my wife probably wouldn’t get married again because of the likelihood of her being in jail from having killed me.]

All this to say that you are dating the person you are dating. You aren’t dating their potential, or who they could be. You are dating who they are. Too often people fall in love with an ideal and divorce the reality. Neither can we go into the relationship blithely hoping that our good influence will rub off on them. Again, ask my wife: it’s much more likely for the evil to drag you down (or as my sister said, when I tried to run the “her goodness” will rub off on me scenario, “Tell her ‘welcome to the dark side’ for me.”).

You need to be honest about who it is you’re dating. If you are going out with a rude, obnoxious, crass lout, you will be married to a rude, obnoxious, crass lout. They may seem to change during the course of the two of you dating, but don’t be surprised when at some point during your marriage they revert and you roll over to find a … rude, obnoxious, crass lout. If the person is unambitious or bad with money, these should be warning flags. Petty behavior you see today will rear its head later in the relationship. That temper you see when they are stuck in traffic will be the same temper you will see when you get into an argument.

Here’s the thing: we may be piles of clay, but our Significant Others aren’t our shapers. They may change for a while (usually just long enough to get you), but generally speaking “changes” for the sake of the relationship don’t stick. Don’t get me wrong, people can grow (up) and change. Personal development has to be internal, them wanting to change themselves for themselves. Change shouldn’t stem from coercion, I mean, nagging, I mean, wanting to please you. True growth occurs over time and you are dating the person they are in the mean time.

So you need to examine yourself if you can live with who they are or at least work around their “faults”. You need to figure out if you can accept them for who and how they are, without lying to yourself about them growing and changing. You need to know how much you can put up with or get out, because, long term, it’s unfair to you as well as them.

Once that’s settled, then you can start training them, because the floor is no place for dirty underwear to be.

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