Love is Acceptance 11

If you don’t accept a person just as they are you don’t really love them.  That’s a strong statement but I said it and I’ll say it again.  Love is acceptance.  You can’t love someone you don’t accept and are bent on changing.

Acceptance doesn’t mean that you have to like everything about the person you love.  Acceptance means that just as they are, if they do not change a thing, you are content.

It is wrong, unrealistic, presumptuous, and just plain whack to marry a fat woman and expect to influence her to be thin; to marry a shopoholic and expect him to become thrifty; to marry a conservative and expect her to become liberal; or to date a short man and wish he were tall.  If you can’t accept someone as they are, without edits, you don’t love them.  You may care for them but love them – I don’t think so.

You cannot make adults change.  You cannot love someone into submission.  I don’t think you should even try.  It’s hard enough to control one’s own being, why try to control someone else’s?

Sometimes love motivates someone to want to change for the better.  The change happens internally even if it is influenced by external forces.  Nagging someone won’t make them exercise, save, or go back to school.  Nagging in fact shuts down communication and stymies action.

We can support our loved ones in their efforts to accomplish their goals but we cannot force them to accept our goals for them or to achieve their goals.

I have noticed the love as change agent urge in many women.  They meet a free spirit who loves them the way they want to be loved in terms of romance and sex, but they want to change him to be more responsible in terms of money and try to get him to act like the corporate climber that he never claimed or wanted to be.  They didn’t really accept who he was.  I have known women make a gamble and marry a man who they planned to substantially change or “upgrade.”  When it works out, they feel self-congratulatory.  When it doesn’t, they bemoan the fact that the man they married remained who he was when they met him.

I have found that people always show you the truth about themselves very early in a relationship.  Too often, we pooh-pooh the warnings, dismissing them as little things that we will change or that our love will change.

I’ve had times in my life where I loved a person down to their toenails but realized  later that they didn’t really love me fully.  They wanted me to be a different woman than I was.  I also loved a man who I almost married some years ago until it was clear that he was who he was and there was not enough love in the world to change what was essentially (for me) a miserly spirit.  I had to let the relationship go and even suspend all contact for several years so that he could be free to find someone who could love him just as he was, without any need to edit, influence, or usurp him.  It was a wise, if painful decision for both of us, who to this day remain who we were then.

Love is acceptance – that includes love for yourself.

About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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