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When we think of our friends and significant ones, we often find ourselves saying things like, “I love X about them, but wish they weren’t so Y.”
What we often fail to see is that these attributes — what we like and what we don’t — are not separate, opposing extremities of a dichotomy, but rather halves of an intimately linked pair.
Every personality attribute has a positive and negative aspect to it. Behaviors that are both rewarding and annoying emerge from the same river of psychological energy.
People who have strong emotional attachments are more likely to be moody and depressed. The good times… are usually shaky. When faced with a crisis, the person who responds calmly typically responds insensitively to sentiments. Whoever is unorganized in her personal life is likely to be unorganized in her work life.
You admire an adventurous spouse, but you are wary of some of the risks they take. You like their attentiveness… but you despise their ridiculous expectations for reciprocal respect. You admire their desire for adventure… but not so much that they get their dose from trying to be on time.
While individuals might perform a better or worse job of emphasizing the positives and minimizing the negative aspects of a personality feature, you can’t have one without the other. You can’t have all of the light and none of the shade of someone’s distinct energy; they’re two sides of the same coin.
So, rather than hoping you could retain X and get rid of Y, think of accepting Y as the price you must pay in order to enjoy X.
In reality, although it’s possible to love someone despite their imperfections, it’s also possible to love someone because of their flaws.