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  • Sometimes, we are not only left in love; we are left for someone else – a rival who

  • comes to assume a large, indeed monstrous position in our imaginations. The torture

  • comes down to one essential question which pursues us into the early hours: What do they

  • have that we do not? Part of the agony rests on a basic feature of human psychology; we

  • know ourselves from the inside, in great and dispiriting detail, whereas we can know others

  • only from the outside, from what they choose to reveal, which may be almost nothing, aside

  • from an attractive face and a charming manner. As a result, we may feel that the person we

  • have been left forand whom we know only on the basis of having briefly met them at

  • a party or stalked their online profileis wonderful in every way. Where we are shy,

  • they will be confident; where we are chaotic they will be well-organised; where our sexuality

  • is complex, theirs will be simple; where we're too domestic, they will be excitingWell-meaning

  • friends may try to bring us back into contact with our good sides: they will speak of our

  • kindness, intelligence or sense of fun. But this may not be the best way forward; the

  • point isn't to rehearse how decent we are. Properly to get over the pain of a love-rival,

  • we need to realise how mediocre pretty much every human who has ever existed tends to

  • be. There is not, in fact, ever any such thing as a 'perfect person', there are merely

  • differently tricky ones, as time will inevitably reveal to our idealising ex. Our failings

  • or defects may well be real but the picture we've got of ourselves as compared with

  • our love rival is skewed by undue ignorance. Recovery does not involve the denial of our

  • less admirable sides: it requires a more nihilistic, and therefore more balanced sense of what

  • people in general are like. Of course the rival has qualities we lack. It is true that

  • they have better hair, or a more impressive salary. But at the same time they have an

  • enormous number of very serious problems which we can be assured exist, not because we know

  • them, but because we know human beings in general. No one examined from up close is

  • ever anything other than disappointingand every person one has to share a life with

  • will prove so maddening over time, one will at points wish they had never been born. Whatever

  • attraction a new lover can offer our ex, they will also supply them with a whole a new set

  • of irritants, which will end up frustrating them as much we ever did, indeed more so,

  • because they so sincerely hopedas they packed their bagsthat such flaws would

  • not exist in their next partner. Our ex-lover has not entered the gates of paradise, they

  • have merely exchanged one imperfect relationship for another. We should never compound our

  • grief with the thought that our ex will be uncomplicatedly happy. The deep lesson of

  • being supplanted is not that we are so bad. It's that we have been left because of a

  • common delusion: the belief that if only one was in a different relationship, one would

  • be substantially happier. And yet, the truth is that more or less every human relationship

  • has its own special and beautifully distinct forms of acute unhappiness. That there is

  • much wrong with us is, of course, true; but this dark fact invariably sits within a far

  • larger, grimmer and yet strangely consoling truth: that every person has much wrong with

  • them. In future relationships, once we get over abandonment, the person we need to find

  • is not the one who thinks we are perfect (and will never leave us on this basis) but rather

  • one who can quite clearly see our failings and yetthe key advantageknows how

  • calmly to make their peace with them. The lover we need is not someone who stays with

  • us because they think we are irreplaceably marvellous but because they've wisely realised

  • that no-one is as attractive as they seem at firstand that to smash up a relationship

  • generally involves nothing much finer than a prelude to novel encounters with frustration

  • and disappointment.

  • Our perspective cards feature tools for a wiser, calmer perspective on life. They help

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Sometimes, we are not only left in love; we are left for someone else – a rival who

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B1 rival lover relationship human attractive reveal

How to Cope When You’ve Been Left

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    Summer posted on 2020/10/30
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