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Relationships • Compatibility

People Not to Fall in Love With

It may sound ungenerous to throw the emphasis on the negative but we can fairly say that people who are good at love know – first and foremost – who not to fall in love with.

Gustave Courbet, Self Portrait/Man With a Pipe, 1848-9

While they may have all sorts of friends and a wide sympathy for the vagaries of being human, when it comes to who they opt to tie themselves to, this is some of what they will avoid with determination:

— People who have no sense of how difficult they are to live with.

— People with a heightened belief in their infallibility.

— People who will, when something is pointed out to them, quickly chose the occasion to simultaneously inform you that: ‘It’s not as though you’re perfect either…’ 

— People who will label any criticism of them (however sensitively delivered) as ‘rude’ or ‘offensive’ and contrary to the rules of true love as they define these.

— People who deliberately drive you to the edge of frustration, then turn and say: ‘why are you getting cross so suddenly?’

— People who smile and say, ‘I get it completely now; I’m going to change,’ and then go and do whatever it was all over again a few days later. People who combine an exquisite talent for upset with an even greater talent for sentimental apology.

— People who will flirt with others, then call it ‘only a bit of fun’ and label you a prude for minding.

— People who will mess up your house and call you ‘anal’; people who will prioritise time with their friends over time with you and then call you ‘controlling.’

— People who tell you you are ‘imagining things’ a lot.

— People who harbour a background grudge against your gender.

— People who are furious with a parent and don’t realise they are.

— People who can’t forgive anyone who thinks better of them than they think of themselves.

— People who claim desperately to want a relationship – but are inwardly so committed to distrust, isolation and self-hatred that they are in no position to really have one – yet don’t know this of themselves. 

— People who principally associate love with the pleasant feelings they register when you are nice to them.

— People who don’t take your love as a substantial gift you chose to bestow every day and could take elsewhere. 

— People who don’t realise your time is very, very precious.

— People who are far too in pain to know how to want the best for you.

— People who refuse to do the necessary work.

Let’s remember; the people in the list above comprise some of the most charming, beautiful, vivacious, seductive characters on the planet. But their traits also mean that you will be headed for substantial challenges in any extended involvement with them. It may take years to work out that they use words like ‘love’ without knowing what they should entail or that they have systematically shredded your confidence in your judgement in order to avoid acknowledging a raft of their own difficulties.

Lovers who know to avoid them are not cleverer than the rest of us. They have just had the good fortune to be looked after early on by people who were tender and sweet and therefore now  know how to associate relationships with fulfilment rather than frustration and longing. Through immense good luck, they simply have no interest in suffering. They have via experience learnt one of life’s most important lessons: that the point of a relationship is to be mutually delighted by another person. As we may eventually realise, we aren’t alive long enough for anything else.

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