Sometimes, the deep root of a big problem is the little “something” that seems minor at first glance. Something like, “He didn’t get my humor.”
I was weeding out my email box recently, and came across a set of email exchanges from years ago with someone I used to know. In the subject line of each of my emails, I had crafted a great pun or one-liner that related to something we’d recently talked about, done, or experienced. Even now, I find them funny, and some of them still make me laugh out loud at my own humor (Sometimes, I just crack myself up, even if I do say so myself).
But in re-reading his responses, I remembered again how my humor consistently fell flat at his feet. No LOLs, no humorous return ball, not even a “ha!” Just a total ignoring of my (perceived) cleverness. I tell myself that I wasn’t looking for validation or approval from him, and I still believe that. Or at least I feel that there’s more to it than that.
I’m going to belabor the point for the sake of this post, but I like my silly sense of humor, and I love it when I make someone laugh. I feel it’s something that makes me, me.
Now, with clear hindsight, I think, No wonder that didn’t last. Back then, I told myself that something like that was minor in the grand scheme of things. So what if he failed to find even marginal humor in the things I said? So what if my way with words escaped him, or he couldn’t do a snappy comeback in kind? We saw other things in each other that made up for any lack of spontaneous jocularity.
He sometimes referred to me as “Your Hotness,” and I ate it up. He liked my attitude about fitness and health, and respected that I was hard-working and self-employed. He recognized that I am a kind and honest person. And, I told myself, he was a good person, too, and (this sounded impressive to me then) he had climbed “Kili” (as in –manjaro).
So my puns didn’t make him laugh. So being silly and playful wasn’t a “thing” for us. What did that matter, really? Well, it mattered a lot more than I had realized then. It wasn’t exactly a character flaw on his part, and it didn’t even mean that he didn’t have some sort of sense of humor. It was that he just didn’t get mine.
But the fact that I could barely make him chuckle, that we didn’t do much laughing together, was just a symptom of a bigger problem: He didn’t get me. And in hindsight, I didn’t get him.
I had been trying to have a relationship with a wall, and at the time, it felt, very subtlely, like my frustration at it was because of my failure, over and over again. No, it wasn’t the failure of “why can’t I make him laugh?” It was, “Why can’t I just be satisfied with all of his other stellar (or so I thought at the time) qualities? He’s such a catch.”
Oh, there were other subtle signs that I chose to ignore, like the first time he came to my house and saw my filled-to-the-brim bookshelves (one of my favorite things about my space).
“Think you’ve got enough books there?” was his first comment, followed by what sounded like a lecture, bordering on bragging, that he had very few books in his house – only the ones he really needed. (Frankly, I feel like I need every one of my books – all several hundred of them.)
Predictably, the relationship, such as it was, was short-lived. I didn’t recognize why at the time. He claimed I “wanted more than he could give.” I didn’t understand what he meant at the time, and maybe he really didn’t, either. But looking back, of course I wanted more than he could give. I wanted him to get me, and he couldn’t give me that.
He was more than happy to let me take responsibility for the failure, and I let him off the hook. I spent far too much time thinking I had failed, rather than just accepting the fact that it was my relationship that had failed, not me.
And now, a number of years later, chuckling at those emails, I think again, “Damn, I’m witty.” And I think, even more loudly, “Why did I waste so much brain power there?”
Why do we waste so much of our brain power, our heart power, our super power, on relationships that our heart recognizes just don’t feel right somehow? Just because someone is a “catch” doesn’t mean they’re your “catch.”
Certain big things are essential to a relationship that lasts – things like honesty, forgiveness, physical attraction…and, yes, some compromise, and some putting-up-with. But at the same time, some of the seemingly smaller things are also really the big things.
Those little things are the things that make you click with someone, that make it all work during the times that other things may not be working as well for a minute – the things that make you get each other.
Be with someone who gets you, who unwraps and loves that magical quality about you and the energy between the two of you that can’t be described in words. Don’t waste a minute on someone who doesn’t recognize in you those wonderful things that make you, you…Or, at the same time, whose magic you don’t recognize. Those are the things that make a relationship more than just a set of check marks on a list, and we deserve no less.