Do You Really Know Them?

I find it interesting that we say, “You never really know a person,” after some awful parting of ways or betrayal. It’s as though we believe that people live in a constant state of deception, clouding our vision from who they truly are. Such manipulative people exist, to be sure, but I don’t believe it’s the norm.

I think for the most part what happens is that people grow apart. So many believe that humans never change, but this is simply not true. It is part of our biology to change. We are constantly losing and gaining new cells, being remade, learning new things, stretching our minds. Change is the way of our lives. Routine may be a comfort, but growth is inevitable.

When we first fall in love with a person, romantically or platonically, we become overwhelmed with excitement for all their beauty and uniqueness, and in the ways their minds are so in tune with ours. We fall for a familiarity or a newness or both. But this fresh love is always full of spark and energy, and most of all a budding trust. And that trust will continue to grow until reason for doubt enters.

And it will enter. Humans are woefully fallible, and we will disappoint each other. For some it’s in small ways, others unforgivably large. But there will always be a fall from grace because no one is perfect despite what our rosy love has led us to believe.

And when that trust falters we say, “I thought I knew them,” as though the person they are now, flawed and changed from who they were when you met, has mindfully chosen to deceive you into believing that they would always be who they once were. This is just the lie we’re taught.

People do not remain the same. They will hurt you. And maybe it will be a transgression necessitating separation. Maybe it will be one you can forgive. But it will happen, and while their behavior is their responsibility, to say that they were planning to deceive you all along is just false. 

I think some people use this as a coping mechanism. If this person was never the great and amazing individual you fell for, then it’s easier to hate them and banish them from your heart. But if they were always earnest and suddenly hurt you, how do you reconcile those two things? Sometimes dismissal is easier than forgiveness, and I think we lean into that as social creatures. We find it better to cut out the problem than deal with it.

And sometimes this is the best move. And that’s fine. My point in all of this is simply that we should pause and consider who a person has been before judging them, and consider how they’ve become who they are. In so doing we can make better decisions about which loves are worth fighting for.

And, should you wish to take preemptive measures, make your best effort to grow with the people you deem most valuable. The closer you grow in unison, the easier their actions will be to understand and live with. 

Love as a verb is not easy, but it is worth it. 

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