It always surprises me how many people proudly trot out this old chestnut. They wear their misery like a badge of honor, proud of what they’ve endured, anticipating the moment they get to chastise you for wondering if it really has to be so hard. “Of course it’s hard, honey,” they admonish. And shame on you for daring to question if life has to be so painful all the time.
This damaging myth was no doubt started because so many people made bad decisions (or were subject to someone else’s decisions) about who to spend their lives with, so they had to console themselves with this sad philosophy. But you don’t have to do this. It’s not the 50s. There are options now. You can choose to be with someone who makes your life easier, not harder. You can also choose not to be with anyone and make your life easier that way.
The real truth: BAD relationships are hard.
Good relationships are easy because you’ve chosen a person you actually like as they are right now and you’re not compelled change them. And your person feels the same way about you. How nice that is, being with someone who delights you, who delights in being with you and never asks you to compromise who you are to make the relationship work.
When a relationship is hard, it’s not a relationship – it’s a project. My relationship with Mr. Jerkface was so much work that I dreaded Fridays and looked forward to Mondays. If you’re in a bad relationship, you know what I’m talking about. Work should not be your respite from your life at home. It should be the other way around. But when you’re in a relationship with a Jerkface, life is upside down.
Here’s what I wish someone had told me when I was with him: your relationship is hard because he actually doesn’t love you. He CAN’T and he WON’T. Love means being true, real, and vulnerable, and Jerkfaces are scared to death of those things. Jerkfaces don’t want to be vulnerable. They want to have power and control.
Does that sound crazy to you? It would have to me, but it is absolutely what I needed to hear, even if I didn’t believe it right away. It’s so hard for us to understand the Jerkface mindset because we’re nice people who want to help. We believe love conquers all. We believe we’re different and that our love for Jerkface will make him or her feel safe.
Maybe some of you will succeed with this. People can change. IF they want to. But watch out for Jerkface saying you’re part of the problem because you complain about their behavior and that’s mean. That’s not mean. That’s normal. Objecting to being treated badly is not an example of you abusing them back.
Objecting to being abused does not mean you’re also an abuser.
When you’re in love with a Jerkface, what you’re usually arguing about is usually not where to go on vacation or which grocery store to go to tonight. YOU’RE ARGUING ABOUT HOW JERKFACE TREATS YOU. Right? The fight you had last night – was it because s/he said you’re starting to get fat? Was it something about your choice of words, or did you dare to laugh too loudly? And then when you ask to be treated with kindness, you’re a jerk, right? Well, despite all the complicated mind games that probably ensued in your last argument, no matter what Jerkface says, nothing you did or will do warrants abuse. Nothing.
Don’t you want to be in a relationship where you argue about music or chicken fingers instead? Don’t you want to dread Monday like those other people who aren’t getting pummeled emotionally or physically all weekend? It’s not a fantasy. Or at least it doesn’t have to be.
Summary: If your workweek is more enjoyable than your weekend, you might be in love with a Jerkface. Relationships aren’t hard. Bad relationships are. In an abusive relationship, you’re arguing about how Jerkface treats you. In a normal relationship, you get to quibble over silly stuff like dirty feet on the yoga mat.