Are you the perfect match – except for one not-so-little thing…? The issue here is not about trying to find someone perfect – and a good thing, since there’s no such person on the face of the earth. The issue is about you being clear about what shortcomings in a partner you can live with and which you can’t.
You’re dating someone who is right in so many ways, but wrong in one significant way. Perhaps it’s a personal habit that drives you crazy: total lack of manners at mealtime or constant interruptions while you’re trying to talk. It could be a character issue that signals trouble: drinking too much but shrugs it off as “no big deal” or pouting and sulking to get their way. Whatever it is, you wonder if this “fatal flaw” might kill the relationship. What should you do? Well, maybe you should ask yourself these questions…
Is this a learned behavior that can change or a personality trait that probably won’t?
Everyone has a bad habit or two that can be beat with willpower, accountability, and encouragement. But relatively minor irritations are in a different category than ingrained personality traits, which are usually difficult (and sometimes impossible) to change. Clearly identify which types of issues you’re dealing with – one that’s possible to modify or one that will likely stay the same.
Does this shortcoming appear on your must-have or can’t-stand lists?
If you have carefully identified the ten things you can’t live with and the ten things you can’t live without, then these lists should serve as a screening process. And if your partner’s flaw shows up, this could be a clear signal that this person isn’t right for you. That may sound cold hearted, but what good are your must-haves and can’t-stand lists if nonnegotiable items become negotiable? What’s more, we can only imagin the number of divorces or troubled marriages that involve people who thought, “This one thing really bothers me, but it’ll go away.”
Is this a fault you are willing to live with?
Making plans for a long-term relationship with someone you assume will change is a recipe for trouble. Sure, people grow and improve, but you should not base your future happiness on the assumption that your partner will be able to (or want to) change enough to satisfy your wishes. Of course, you may ultimately decide that you can live with your partner’s fault, but in doing so you’re making a deliberate, conscious choice.
So are you going to do? Do you already have your 10 can’t-stand and 10 must-have lists?