Our culture strongly inclines us to the view that genuine love must involve complete acceptance of another person in that good and especially in that somewhat bad science.
In moments of fury with our partners we may be tempted to dismiss their complaints against us with cry ‘just love me as I am.’
But in truth, none of us should want to remain exactly as we are in love and therefore none of us should too strongly want another person to love as opposed to tolerate or simply forgive what is warped within us.
Genuine love might be defined as gently and kindly helping someone to become the best version of themselves. Not accepting themselves precisely as they are.
It isn’t a betrayal of love for someone to try to help us to evolve, to teach us to become better people. In fact, it may be the highest proof of genuine commitment.
Unfortunately, under the sway of a romantic ideology that makes us suspicious of emotional education. Most of us end up being terrible teachers and equally terrible students in relationships.
We don’t accept the legitimacy let alone the nobility of others desire to teach us. And we can’t acknowledge areas where we might need to be taught.
We rebel against the very structure of a lover’s education that would enable criticism to be molded into sensible sounding lessons and to be heard as caring attempts to reject the more troublesome aspects of our personalities.
At the first sign that the other person is adopting a teacherly tone, we tend to assume that we’re being attacked and betrayed. And therefore we close our ears to the instruction reacting with sarcasm and aggression to the teacher.
Our stance is deeply understandable.
To the mother, everything about her tiny infant is delightful, they wouldn’t change even the smallest thing. Their baby is perfect just as it is. Our idea of love has taken this kind of attitude very much to heart. It’s what we grow up thinking that love is supposed to be like.
The suggestion that another person could want us to change grow or improve is taken as an insult to love.
The problem is, the mother never in fact loved us just as we were. She hoped we would keep growing up. And the need to keep growing up is still there.
Our bodies may be fully formed, but our psyches always have some growing up still to do. We should never hold it against our lovers if they don’t love us just as we are. They’re doing something far more generous wanting us to be a little better.