[Author’s note: I’m being completely serious here. None of this is a joke except for maybe a sentence or two.]
I’m a glass-half full kinda guy. Only half a glass of beer? Sure, I’ll take it. (Particularly if I already drank the first half).
But while I’m a pretty positive guy, lemme tell ya, people disappoint me all the time.
Example: Sometimes I make plans with people to do social things, like drink beers together, but then they have to cancel because they have jobs, or families, or they don’t feel like it.
Or you know those people who always have to make a joke about everything? Like clearly it’s a defence mechanism they developed early in life and they’re probably not even aware they’re doing it? Well sometimes when I try to confide in them about something serious they just turn it into a joke.
Or sometimes I find out people keep their living spaces messy. Or they voted Green because “they’re the only party that cares about climate change” even though the NDP has been trying to fight that shit for years.
The fuck, people.
What am I supposed to do here? Accept the level of investment people are willing and able to put into me? Choose more receptive people to confide in? Only date tidy people and people who vote for the same party as I do, if it’s truly *that* important?
Horseshit. I’m on this Earth for a very short time amongst thousands of millions of other humans for one reason: To limit my choices to a small pool of people and try to crowbar them into being more like me.
It’s my favourite thing about monogamy, really. You take a broad range of domestic, financial, emotional, social, and physical needs, cram them into one person, and slowly chip away at their self-esteem when they can’t meet all of them at once.
So for good measure, here are a few handy ways of knowing when you absolutely *must* invest yourself in changing another person’s behaviour:
1. It feels pretty unnatural for them to change.
Maybe you’ve tried to get your partner to socialize more? Maybe they experience anxiety in large groups and so don’t want to go to parties with you? Perfect opportunity to make them feel “lame” and insufficient if they don’t go. I recommend any sentence that starts with “I’m not saying you’re weak, but”. This is far more effective than choosing another person to bring, and mountains more practical than admitting that in your case you should probably just date extroverts if monogamy is your bag.
Remember, the healthiest relationships are the ones that have a dynamic of one person trying desperately to meet the other’s standards. How else are people supposed to grow?
2. They’re really not at all eager to change.
Maybe they say toxic things about social issues, or they brazenly flirt with others right in front of you, or they generally act less excited to be around you than you’d like them to.
Choosing to stop investing energy in such people would be a powerful way to both assert your boundaries and teach them that maybe they don’t treat people as well as they think they do. It might not happen for them instantly upon your ending the friendship/relationship/somewhere in between-ship, but as they go through life getting increasingly ostracized for their shitty behaviour, who knows, maybe they’ll change.
Or not. But at least to you they’ll be a distant memory.
On the other hand, you know what would really show them? Years of close contact and passive aggressive comments that never sink in.
3. It’s not critically important to you that they change.
Okay, if someone behaves in a way that threatens your personal sovereignty, power to you if you stick it to them, and power to you if your reaction is as strong as you’re able to make it. Sometimes external factors impose a scarcity that makes it hard to react to massively disappointing behaviour in a way that feels empowering.
But if we’re talking about the amount of carbs your partner has been eating since you hooked up, then you *must* make them more perfect like you are. It’s a scarce world out there. There are only seven billion of us, which is a lot less than seven hundred billion, so why ask yourself what you’re really doing spending time with people you’re constantly disappointed in, when you can just project your disappointment in yourself onto others?
Follow this advice and you’ll be happy in all your relationships. Or, don’t follow it. I won’t be angry with you,