I have come to realize that we often put people in a square or a category when we first meet them, just based on what they say and/or do. It’s kind of like deciding for the other person the capacity in which they are able to be in our life instead of actually giving someone a chance to show us who they are and what they’re about, what role they are able to, and are willing to, play in our life.
I’ll be the first to say that I’ve done this. I think it’s a defense mechanism but it actually is a very fear-driven thing to do. We’re always intrigued when we first meet someone by whatever it is about him or her that caught our attention in the first place, and drove us to wanting to get to know that person. But then we place stipulations on them on what they could be to us, via pre-conceived notions we’ve formulated based on what we’ve been shown and what we’ve seen growing up, and in our personal adult experiences… (BTW, I am referring to any type of relationship here – be it platonic, familial or non-platonic.)
I think that, as individuals, we are all somewhat scared to be vulnerable with others. Yes, it opens us up to the possibility of getting hurt, but it also creates the potential of developing nurturing and mindful relationships with others. Yet the walls we keep around our Selves not only impede that, but also deflect the gifts the other person comes bearing (be it friendship, an opportunity to create, love, etc.). And so we end up getting stuck in this never-ending cycle of amazing people knocking on our doors and us never fully allowing them the opportunity to show us all these gifts they come bearing. Often we are so focused on who they could potentially be to us, what we could get out of such a relationship, the reason why we’ve crossed paths, trying to figure out if they’re a reason, a season or a lifetime, etc. that it distracts us from the present moment but it also leads to one or all of the following:
1) It puts people into a box with respect to the capacity they are able to be in our life.
2) It puts pressure on the actual relationship to be something other than what it is.
3) It creates a relationship with limited growth potential of either individual and of the relationship itself.
I do believe that a huge part of growing up is letting go – of viewing the world with the same set of eyes, of how we’ve imagined things should be, of ideas we’ve held onto since childhood about how things ‘should be’ – and actually focusing on what is. It is not necessary to have it all figured out when you meet someone. It is actually mindful to pay attention to that person – their habits, their needs…whatever it is that they choose to share with you – and create with them the type of relationship that is nurturing to both of you, whatever that means or entails.
Be open to more.