Understanding isn’t a cure-all

2015-08-01 20.22.35.jpgThoughts for the week…

Most of us learn pretty early that love does not always equal compatibility. A trickier one to get is that understanding does not always equal compatibility or magic fixes either. How many times have you heard or said “If you just understood…” with the assumption that that would change whatever dynamic is in play?

Truth is, sometimes two people can understand each other perfectly and be in the unfortunate position of having diametrically opposed base needs. At that point one can offer sympathy and compassion, but still not be able to bridge the gap between those needs.

It doesn’t mean that either person is wrong for needing what they do or being who they are. It doesn’t make either person a bad person because they have to take care of themselves first.

If I’m drowning and you can’t swim, you can’t be faulted for not jumping in to save me. If there’s no way you can get me help in time, and you’d die trying to help me, I’d really rather you didn’t. An extreme example, sure, but it illustrates that sometimes there are no easy work arounds. A sad and all too common alternate example, two people in a monogomous relationship where one cannot bear touch for very understandable reasons, and the other needs it to be happy. There is all the love in the world but all the understanding in the world can’t make the situation stop hurting either party, or make things magically okay. In a poly relationship there might be an outlet in the form of a third party, but not everyone is wired for poly.

I’m so used to being able to fix things, to finding compromises and unexpected solutions, that I find myself at an utter loss for how to handle situations where mutual understanding reveals an apparently uncrossable divide. I don’t have a tool in my toolbox for that beyond walk away. There’s got to be something better. And I know each such situation probably has its own specialized tool, and its so frustrating when I can’t see it or find it. The sad thing is that sometimes, at least for a time, walking away may actually be the best answer. Time and distance can resolve a rather large number of things. I’m stubborn enough that I feel like I’m giving up rather than applying the correct tool, partly because for so many years my first instinct was to run away from my problems instead of working through them.

How do you know when to stay or go? Do we ever know which is the right call really?

Its easy when one person is clearly a manipulative asshole, but when both people truely care and are decent human beings?

I have no answers. Just a reminder. If you think your important person doesn’t understand because they aren’t changing their behavior in the way that you need… pay attention to what you’re expecting understanding to accomplish. It goes a long way, but its not a magic fix-it wand.

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