Always assume she is different

19 Dec

It’s a wonderful thing when you meet someone and find there is much in common. The connection is amazing, and you begin to thinking about where to go from there, and wonder about the possibilities.

This is where the trouble often starts.

Some men have very strong ideas about the kind of women they want to meet. You know who you are. For some reason, you believe you’re are not into “superficial” things, like appearance and attire, and you have very clear ideas about your “values”, or about where to take their career, etc.

You may have made the mistake of prematurely fantasising about the future, right when you find someone who seems to be of the same mind as you. After a few months of dating–or, after just two or three dates–you suddenly discovered something about her that you didn’t expect. Sure, the connection’s still great, but one or two things about the woman suddenly stuck out at you.

Say, you preferred someone who didn’t smoke, and you never thought to raise the subject because she’s never smoked in front of you–until the day she pulled out a cigarette after a stressful day.

Or you may be of a specific religious or political persuasion. You didn’t mention it because you thought it odd to raise it out of the blue–she seemed such a good match in all other areas it felt safe to assume she was in line with you on this one. Suddenly, when you least expected it, the subject cropped up.

Did you suddenly feel worried? Or disappointed? You had thought you’d finally found someone exactly like you, but it turns out that she is… different from you.

I don’t intend to talk about how to manage disagreements in this post, but if many “perfect” matches for you have, in the past, turned out to be different from initial expectations, you may need a reality check:

People are different. Upbringing, education and career are variables that create infinite permutations for personalities, beliefs and values. This sounds like a banal truism, but many guys make the mistake of disregarding this principle whenever they make a strong connection with a woman. “This girl–she’s different from the others. She’s just like me.”

Yes, she may well be more similar to you than many others. But realise this: there’s no way she’s just like you. Without exception, you will always eventually find something different about someone, especially if you initially thought was the same. Because of the simple fact that she’s not you.

If you’re disturbed by the idea that you can never find someone thinking and feeling the same way as you do, stop. Relationships don’t comprise two identical persons–the opposite is true, even if we disregard the cliche that “opposites attract”.

If you’ve just met a woman, and you find many things in common, great. Enjoy her company. Talk about your hobbies, beliefs, etc. But don’t just focus on these things in common, as many guys tend to do. Uncovering differences is an important starting point for developing a relationship. Assuming that she is different–even if you are strongly attracted to a person at the moment–makes it possible for a relationship to blossom.

In the bigger scheme of things, it’s also a starting point for discovering what kinds of people you get along with, and what kinds you don’t. If you haven’t had great results in dating, you may need to actively date outside of your usual “type” of people.

On the other hand, if you’ve been dating someone for a while, remind yourself there’ll still much to discover about the person. And never procrastinate a commitment because you think you “need more to know more about the person.” No one has ever gone into a relationship knowing everything there is to know about the other party. Also, no one has ever chosen to stay in a relationship once he was confident there’s nothing left to discover about the other person. Quite the opposite is true: a relationship ends when one is no longer willing to discover and explore differences.

If you are wondering why you can’t find someone just like yourself, or if you find yourself always meeting women whom you need to “fix”, start thinking of differences–be they in belief or behavior–as something for you to explore, not fix.  Accepting others’ differences is an important skill for dating and relationships. If you really need to talk about it with a woman, do so with curiosity as the main motive,  and judgement and correction as the last.

Remember that the world is full of different people, and not everyone thinks and acts the way you do. There is no need to be troubled about it. The sooner you’re comfortable with this fact of life, the better.

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