I spent all of this evening cooking Gado-Gado. Ratha scanned the recipe, and I was on the phone with her for two and a half hours, partly on the drive home and partly while pacing outside, but mostly while cooking so she could tell me what to do. It turned out pretty well, I think, though it seems questionable whether it's really worth quite that much time and energy to prepare food. (Granted, I am trying to stave off boredom, but spending that much time cooking left me with a good meal and little energy to do anything else this evening.) Nevertheless, I am proud of my accomplishment.
Today, it is one year since Ratha and I met. It's our anniversary, kind of.
I've realized something which I think is pretty fundamental to my relationships with other people. The one thing which I most deeply value in a relationship is acceptance. What I mean by this is not just tolerance (you can tolerate something that you dislike), nor even a wishy-washy “anything goes” attitude. What has been present in each of the relationships that I have greatly valued has been a deeply felt conviction on my part that the other person believes me to be fundamentally okay as I am, and that that person understands me enough for that belief to actually carry some weight.
Within the context of a relationship of this nature, I tend to notice things I could improve and work on them (although I can also become complacent), and I may even be responsive to an occasional suggestion, if I can lower my defenses for a bit. But outside of it, suggestions are either purely technical (informing me about means but not ends) or are alien—not necessarily bad, but without any real significance.
Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be such a thing as partial acceptance or partial trust in my head. And without that intermediate level, most relationships seem more or less meaningless. The most they can achieve is pragmatic benefit. I don't let them in to affect me at all.
The truth is that once someone is inside my defenses, they're really inside. Because I recognize this fact, and because any such relationship will be a life-changing experience, I heavily moderate and edit who I allow in in the first place. In a way it's amazing I've let anyone in at all. It's also amazing that I haven't really been burned by this… yet. [knock on wood]