Wednesday, October 7, 2009

the love-blind

Do we ever really know the people we love?

I frequently stalk my ex-boyfriends online. That isn’t quite as harsh as it sounds. I just like to have a picture in my head of what everyone’s doing now. Through my online searches of names and email addresses, I’ve come up with the following information about people that I’ve dated: One ex moonlights as an escort, one is apparently a member of some sort of circus-slash-fetish vaudeville troupe and one of them, who lived at home until he was 30, finally bought a house- right next door to his parents!

I bet he still strolls into the kitchen every morning calling out, “Ma, what’s for breakfast?”

All of the bits of information I’ve found online (except for the last one) threw me into a state of confusion. I thought I knew these people. I thought I knew them fairly well, actually. But now I have to wonder: do we ever really know the people we care about?

A dear friend of mine was shocked to find out about her husband’s secret credit card debts. Even more surprised to see the number of charges that appeared to be from strip clubs… while he was supposed to be at work. Their marriage fizzled and his hidden drug abuse/various other addictions started all coming to light. It was pretty gruesome; thankfully, she got out in time and managed to make a new life for herself.

But how is it possible that she didn’t know?

I don’t mean that as a criticism. I place the blame for everything that went wrong directly on him, where it belongs. But where was my friend’s radar for lying, for cheating, or for deception? She isn’t slow. In fact, she’s one of the most dynamic, intelligent people I know.

But when it comes to relationships, do we love ourselves blind?

I know that there were things I chose to ignore in my past relationships. Flaws I was willing to overlook. Messages that I just didn’t want to receive. But when you ignore the small things (and ok, some of the medium-sized things too), after a while, do you start wearing blinders? Because I have to think that must be how we miss the big deceptions. By starting with the small lies to ourselves, first.

And if I’m being completely honest I know that sometimes, someone has tried to tell me something… And I didn’t want to listen. I shut down and shut them out and pretended that everything was fine. I want to have adult relationships that enrich my life and deepen other peoples’ lives, too. But I know I need to get past this hurdle first.

Do we choose to make ourselves love blind?

And how can we take the blinders off?