Sometimes, we get exhausted when our partners aren’t as fixated and focused on us as we’d hoped. We want them to understand us properly and be hugely engrossed in the details of our day, but we are routinely disenchanted and let down because they’d rather talk to their friends or watch an American series.
The truth is, upon close-up inspection, our partner isn’t cruel to us in any noticeable way. We just perhaps, selfishly, expect more because we think love was supposed to be more enthralling.
This misery of ours has a paradoxical origin. We are unhappy now because, at some point in the past, we enjoyed good fortune. To better illustrate what I’m saying, we need to observe the earliest signs of love in our lives.
Our idea of what an ideal relationship is and what it feels like to be loved surprisingly does not come from adulthood, but rather, a stranger source — our earliest childhood.
We were basically comforted. There was this profound sense of security, and our needs were, effortlessly, understood. If things went well for us as a child, we were exceedingly satisfied as one. We didn’t need to toil. We felt absolutely safe. Our parents could perceive even our most subtle moods, and even though the details are too large to remember, the experience of being cherished and adored leaves an immense impression on us.
It’s been rooted deeply in our minds as the model template of what love is and how people should love us.
The sad thing is that as adults, our memory predisposes us to this notion of being loved. We then project some of these amazing experiences of our early childhood into our present relationships, a comparison of which, if you ask me, is profoundly destructive and really unfair.
The type of love imbibed by our parents is not a practical model of the love we should practice as adults. The reason is simple — we were babies then, and we are adults now; a dichotomy with major distinctions.
For a start, we didn’t need to reciprocate the love they had for us then. Our parents focused intently on providing for our needs, and they didn’t, for one second, think we’d be available at that young age to handle their troubles. They didn’t need us to ask about their day or why they seem angry. Our primary duty was gleefully simple — we just had to exist. Our most normal actions — including rolling over on our tummy, holding their ring finger with our whole hand — all greatly enchanted them. We were loved, and we didn’t need to love — a huge distinction between the different kinds of love. We were the privileged customer then when our loving parents were the exhausted, weary provider.
Secondly, our needs were simpler. Back then, we needed to be washed, cleaned, and put to bed. We didn’t need someone to be intelligent enough to discern even our most subtle concerns or someone to troll carefully through the troubled corners of our minds. Our parents knew what we wanted concerning certain emotional and physical requirements. But our partner is much more different. They stutter in the dark areas of our needs — needs that are far from obvious and difficult to comprehend.
Finally, our parents were probably nice enough to hide how difficult it was for them to raise us. They usually maintained a bright facade until they retired to their beds when the genuine strain of their efforts can be witnessed but by then, we were asleep.
They demonstrated their absolute love for us and bravely hid what looking after us cost them. But as remarkable as their actions sound, it did us one lasting disservice. It may, unwittingly, have created an impractical expectation of what it means for someone to love us — a false expectation of what love entails in the adult world.
Later in life, we might end up with lovers who may be brutish at times, who are often too tired to talk to us at the end of the day, who are not always amazed at our clever antics and romantic jokes, who sometimes do not even listen to what we are saying. And then, we might feel bitter and say, “this is not how our parents were.”
The ironic truth is, this is exactly how our parents were, just up in their bed when we were sleeping. The origins of our sorrow presently are, therefore, not the romantically inept actions of our partner. It’s us viewing the adult in the light of a different kind of love. We are unhappy not really because we are in love with the wrong person but simply because we’ve been forced to grow up.