Stop expecting people to be perfect.
Trauma. In Greek, it means wound.
When it comes to relationships, romantic at most and close at least, people who have undergone a traumatic experience feel the need to allow space so the knife doesn’t cut them as easily as before.
We form relationships with other people but keep these at a certain distance we have so carefully measured. We hold everyone at bay, waiting for the time when they will show symptoms of HOPS (Hurting Other People Syndrome) and then when we confirm that they have it, release them into the sea. We don’t necessarily cut them off from our lives because we stay on shore, waiting for new catch, and we see our past relationships swimming and floating every now and then. We see them but they’re already too far away.
It’s normal to allow for error because human beings make a lot of mistakes, consciously and unconsciously. It’s when this room for error is greater than the room for understanding it that is quite troublesome. We expect people to be perfect for us, but it barely crosses our minds that our expectations of perfection tell us we aren’t perfect in the least. When people try to take possession of something, it’s because they don’t have it or what they have isn’t enough.
We fall into this suspect-victim mentality where only one person may be culpable and the other person deserving to be paid for damages. With this perspective, we go back to building walls between our relationships. Let’s save ourselves from the effort of building and tearing down when we can fully surrender in trust.
A relationship is not an end, it is a process and it takes both persons to agree that there is something wrong and that it has to be made right, not by one party but by both parties resolving to work things out.
We are free to form relationships and enjoy them as they are, without paranoia and without suspicion. We may acknowledge our trauma and the mental scar it left, but it would be a great disservice to the rest of humanity if we always expect everyone as capable of inflicting the same wound and leaving the same scar. Indeed they are but it is our prejudgements that we should leave at bay, and maybe let slip for a while, and allow a person to fulfill her relational potential by pulling her to shore and walking alongside her. And maybe then will we realize that the person who we thought could hurt us is actually also a person capable of loving and deserving of being loved.