capturing the beautiful calamity of healing in therapy

Your Partner Deserves Your Best Self

“..But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”

We have all heard this trite cliche. It’s plastered everywhere on social media, taunted as a cutesy threat towards potential suitors who may be showing interest. Supposedly Marilyn Monroe said it first, though this is more of a rumor than proven fact, but regardless of the original owner, it has morphed into quite the beloved quote.

And, yet, I despise it.

Yes, people who truly love us will typically see and handle us at our “worsts.” When we commit and stay with someone for a long enough time, we will typically endure highs and lows with him or her. This is a beautiful and natural test in love. My problem isn’t with if you can’t handle me at my worst; my problem is with the implicit message resting behind it.

I think too many people use it as a watered-down excuse, as a tempting free pass to be at their worst whenever they deem it appropriate to do so.

I will be bold in stating that I believe it is often used as an excuse to settle, an excuse to act out of laziness, an excuse to mistreat our partners, an excuse to let ourselves physically, mentally, spiritually, financially, and emotionally, an excuse to feel safe to “be the true self” absent of any of the hard work needed to often maintain that.
While I do believe all of us humans have inherent worth, I also believe part of what makes our human evolution so exciting and so captivating is our strive towards ambition, growth, and self-actualization. We are not attracted to mates randomly. A Connection Cannot be Random. We all have intrinsic needs, and we emit energy that consciously and unconsciously engages those who can potentially meet those needs.

Very simply, we are drawn to certain elements in people. Likewise, people are drawn to certain elements in us.

The best me makes the best us and the best us is unstoppable. 

Among other promises, this was a line in my vows to my now-husband. It’s a line about wholeness, about promising to continue towards growing and enhancing myself, about recognizing that the best me makes for the best kind of relationship. It recognizes that I deserve to be the best version for myself, and that he deserves the best version of me.

I do believe the healthiest relationship embodies two wholes- rather than two halves- who have chosen to unify their strengths, emotions, and experiences together and create an even greater existence.

My partner deserves the best me. I deserve the best him. To believe anything differently moves us into a territory of potential settling, which moves into potential resentment, potential distancing, and potential conflict. Because I value the sacredness of our relationship, I consciously choose to take accountability in being the best person I can be for both myself, my husband, and the greater relationship we both share. By taking care of myself, I naturally take care of the other things that matter in my life.

He deserves to be reminded why he fell in love with me, and why we chose to get married. He deserves to be reminded this frequently, as do I.

 

 

It is hard to love someone, harder to be in love with someone, and hardest to stay in love with someone. If all we can really control in this lifetime is ourselves, don’t we deserve to be as amazing as we possibly can be? Don’t our partners deserve that as well?

I don’t believe in “putting up with someone.” I don’t believe in justifying toxic energy or just “letting myself go.” At its best, stagnation is simply annoying. But, at its worst, it moves into deeply-rooted resentment and unhappiness. Being stuck stunts us. We need to grow into new mental spaces; we need to adapt and grow.

When we expect entitlement, when we expect love, adoration, and passion despite how we treat the other, when we refuse to take action or accountability to make positive change within our control, we just cannot be surprised if the other person’s opinion on us changes. We cannot be surprised if interest starts to wane, resentment starts to grow, mixed feelings start to arise. And yet, we spew out this idea of unconditional love, as if this is an all-inclusive insurance for a partner to tolerate and even embrace any and all character flaws.

Nobody can be perfect, but I do think there is something wonderful in a continuous effort towards betterment, towards balance, towards mental health and well-being. Relationship or not, isn’t this what we are all striving for? Aren’t we all on this life path towards something and somewhere beautiful? 

When someone is continuously working to be a personal version of “best,”we are far more willing to tolerate him or her when “the worst” inevitably happens. Because, in our hearts, we know the other person has a natural inclination towards resilience and adaptation. Because, we are able to readily trust that the other person will likely be able to move through whatever “the worst is,” and come out of it with even more strength and character.

And that is attractive. And that is someone we all deserve to have.

But if we cannot or will not give it, how can we expect to receive it?