On my phone’s weather app, I have saved the locations of my long-distance partners: Canadian cities across different provinces, and Iran (or sometimes the UAE, depending) . Although it shouldn’t surprise me much, my hometown of Winnipeg is currently the coldest.
Something that I’ve been learning more as I grow: a partner needn’t be my everything. I don’t have to expect my partner to provide every sort of thing I would want from human interaction.
I’ve known this for a while in terms of, like, romantic partners. But I’m finding it also applies to friends. I don’t need to be able to talk about math to all of my friends—though it certainly helps. But I also don’t need to be able to talk about work with all of my friends. Nor about my family, my past, my secrets…
One of the things I love most about meeting people and getting to know them is feeling out the shape I take on when I’m around them. One person may bring out some artistic nature; another might bring out cold, calculating judgement; and so on. No one person will bring out every aspect of me just by their own virtue—though being in different situations with them might. And that’s okay.
After writing that post, I kept thinking, and I think I’ve come up with a clearer way to explain what I was pondering about. Analogy time!
Getting to know a person is like studying a landscape.
Because we’re 3-dimensional creatures, we can only see the surfaces of other 3-dimensional objects. And if we want to see what’s inside, under, above, behind an object, we have to either move ourselves, or the object.
Grant inadvertently made an analogy and I loved it: Turning over rocks; inspecting something in finer detail to understand what else is going on in or around it.
So maybe as I grow as a person, when I meet people and metaphorically survey their landscape, I notice more rocks because my perception has grown with me. I notice that there are more things to investigate.
Turning over a rock takes effort; and depending on the size of the rock, could significantly alter the landscape.
Now the question becomes: When getting to know someone closely enough to care about them, how many rocks am I comfortable leaving unturned?
1. I have been seeing variations on this joke every month for years. I am so bored of them. I want them to stop.
2. Linguistic prescriptivism is stupid and offensive. Sometimes we make new words from roots that come from different languages, this is just how English works. For example: automobile, television, and homosexual.
3. Making it sound like you are attacking a kind of relationship or sexuality as the setup for a joke is just not the funniest sort of joke.
As I’ve grown, I’ve continually asked myself how much I care about other people’s baggage.
As I get older, it will take others longer to get to know me (even if just because I’ll have had more experiences shape me), and it will take me longer to get to know others (even if just because I’ll have to keep more stories in line). How much do I care to know?
Over the last two years or so, I’ve gotten much better at deciding when I don’t need to bother with someone. Some people, I just don’t need to care about pleasing or understanding—they don’t deserve any especial patience or time out of my day—because they’re bad for me.
So now this is what I’m wrestling with: How deeply do I need to know someone in order to interact with them? How deeply do I need to know their secrets to care about them?
When I was younger, I hungered for that knowledge. I wanted to be able to take perfect care of my partner, and that meant I needed as much information as possible.
I was younger, less experienced; so every new person I met was new. So getting to know someone meant learning everything explicitly. Now that I have a bit more experience meeting people, I’ve had exposure to more people, and I can understand people faster, because I recognise patterns.
But of course, no one pattern applies perfectly to two individuals.
So the struggle is in this: In how fine of detail do I need to understand someone and have them be a part of my life? How deep of secrets can I accept a partner having?