When we love someone, we often put on “rose-colored glasses” and see them as much more wonderful and perfect than the average onlooker does. We only see the good, which makes us blind to major flaws and warning signs we might have otherwise noticed. “When you look at someone through rose-colored glasses, all the red flags just look like flags,” Bojack Horseman’s once-girlfriend points out.
Everyone falls victim to rose-colored glasses at one point or another. We’ve all heard similar stories of “He’s gaslighting me but I still love him,” or “He won’t commit but maybe he will one day.” My best friend growing up almost married a controlling, possessive, angry man. She never understood why I didn’t like him until she finally broke off the engagement.
Why do we have this blindness to flaws in people we care about when others can see them so clearly? Would love be impossible to find otherwise?
I had to take some time away from the most recent object of my rose-colored glasses’ affection to gain some perspective about why for every step we take forward, there’s another two back. Sometimes it takes space to remember that what you’re looking at is a living breathing human with flaws just like the rest of us, and not the perfect being our hearts want us to see.
For me, I knew it from the beginning. He was an emotionally immature borderline alcoholic manchild. But at the time, I excused it for “things he needed to work on” rather than see it for what it really is: a red flag for more issues down the line.
I moved out of my parents’ house at 17, and I had moved cross-country by myself twice by the time I was 24. I have a Master’s Degree and big plans for my future that don’t include slowing down at any point. I’m working on seeing the country and the world, and I continue to achieve every goal I’ve ever set out for myself.
When he turns 30, will he still be living with his parents? Will he still be at the dead-end job he’s hated for five years? Is that something I’m okay with?
I thought I was. I didn’t see them as red flags. There’s always room for change and improvement, and I would love to help make his life better. He’s important to me, and that’s how that works.
But it’s a bad sign that he would rather Snapchat risqué photos to girls from the internet that he has no intention of ever meeting in person than being open to a relationship with someone who really cares about him.
And it’s a bad sign that he handles me being mad at him by getting blackout drunk. And handles everything by getting blackout drunk.
“I have a laundry list of reasons why he’s bad for me logically,” I told a friend. But Nick Miller from New Girl is borderline alcoholic and never lives up to his potential either, and he’s still Jess’s soulmate. Everyone has their flaws. That’s okay, right?
Maybe one of my flaws is expecting relationships to work like they do on television. Real-life Nick Miller is probably not the ideal man.
Even with the rose-colored glasses on, I couldn’t ignore the fact that he can’t communicate with me. Does he even know what he’s feeling? Because I sure don’t. Maybe I should have seen the warning signs that he’s too afraid to move: the house, the job, the alcohol he hides behind. Of course he’s too afraid to be with someone who cares about him. That’s the scariest thing of all. I deserve someone who’s more afraid of losing me than being with me.
There’s so much more to life than the people who hold us back, and some flaws aren’t worth the tears. But we have to decide where to draw that line. Compromises have to be made in relationships once we take the glasses off and admit these flaws to ourselves. No one is perfect, myself included. I’m sure I’m reckless and overly-emotional and independent to the point of selfish, but I have to believe that one day someone will look past that. Love takes work. And while my experience may still largely be based on tv relationships, I’ll always believe it’s worth it.
Photo credit: We Heart It