Are you too judgmental of your partner? Do you think you're not compatible with your partner?
We've heard from some people who really liked our response to M.L. in Ann Arbor, but others are wondering: "But what about compatibility? Isn't it important for me to choose who is a good fit for me, and who isn't?" And the answer to that is: Yes, of course! So please continue reading!
Just as a reminder, M.L. wrote that she struggles with noticing "imperfections" in every woman she dates—"She's overweight, she's not happy enough, she drinks too much, she's too messy, she's too neat, she's too rigid, and she looks too gay (I know that one isn't supposed to bother me, but it does."
M.L. added, "I know I’m not perfect either—believe me, if I could break up with myself, I would!" It was that last sentence that really led us to focus on self-acceptance as the key to help M.L. get over her habit of honing in on imperfections. So many of us struggle with harsh self-criticism, and that can really get in the way of creating love with others—both because of our poor relationships with ourselves and because turning that same critical lens outward makes it almost impossible to build trust and intimacy with anyone else.
As some of you brought up, when we are first dating someone new, we absolutely do need to assess our compatibility with them. Lesbians and queer women tend to bond quickly, so sometimes breaking up with someone can be a huge deal even if we've only been dating for a few weeks! So, if there are clear signs that it's just not a match, it's better for both parties to stop without going further down a dead-end road.
Yet how can we know we're not being too judgmental, cutting things off at the pass too soon? On the other hand, how can we make sure we're responding appropriately to those "red flags" that give us legitimate cause for concern? It's a slippery slope!
Self-acceptance is good medicine for everyone, though — so working with the practices we recommended for M.L. can't hurt you, and may help you. The truth is, accepting ourselves with all of our imperfections does make it easier for us to accept others with theirs. The surprising fact is that self-acceptance can also make it easier for us to recognize when someone is really not the right fit for us, and communicate that to her with clarity and compassion. How can that be? Read on!
It's time for some self-disclosure here! In my past, before becoming a Conscious Girlfriend, I often felt overly eager to be in a relationship. My pattern used to be that as soon as I was single, I'd be out there looking for the next woman. I felt so hungry for connection, intimacy and sex that even when I saw the proverbial red flags, I chose to ignore them.
For instance, I quickly noticed that the ex, I'll call Jessie, drank wine every single night—and although I really wasn't comfortable with that, I was far too crazy about her to pull out. A few months later, when she specifically told me she'd call me later and then never called, it turned out she stayed out till 5 a.m. drinking with her ex-girlfriend, I cried for 12 hours, yet kept on seeing her.
The truth is, people show us quickly who they are. I’m not attempting to prescribe what anyone else should or shouldn't accept—but for me, Jessie's wine habit and unreliability were a problem. If I hadn't bonded with Jessie so deeply and quickly, I could have spared myself a lot of pain by pulling out. If I hadn't been operating from a scarcity model, I could have used my head as well as my heart in assessing my compatibility with Jessie.
Assessing compatibility doesn't have to be, and shouldn't be, about judging someone else or finding fault with her. It can and should be about setting our own boundaries, saying what's OK with us, and what's not.
Fast-forward ten years after my relationship with Jessie, when Deana showed up. We took a nice walk on our first date, though I did notice Deana talked most of the time, a red flag for me. Still, I liked her well enough to invite her over for dinner. She showed up with a bottle of wine, set it on my table, and announced, "I drink wine every night, and have for many years. I’m probably an alcoholic."
Guess what? That was my last date with Deana! Hooray for becoming able to learn from experience! So yeah, assessing what you want, and holding to it, is important. So is being able to accept yourself exactly as you are and accept each woman you date, exactly as she is. But how can you know if she's "the one"? That's a topic for another column...or many!