There was a time when I believed people were either All Good or All Bad.
That there were nice guys and bad boys. Good hearts and crooked ones. People whose bloodstreams were laced with compassion and people whose hearts were made of arsenic.
And by that logic, I myself must be a good person or a bad person.
I let this consideration bleed into my relationships (of every nature). I was constantly searching for evidence that the people I was with were good people. And that I was a good person in kind.
Some people appeased my fears – they saw the best in me and consequently brought out the best in me.
Others did the opposite.
And in time, here is what I learned the hard way: there are going to be certain people who are firmly committed to seeing the worst in you.
There are people who go searching for the bad in others, with an almost insatiable bloodlust. They are the masters of emotional entrapment: goading and antagonizing situations – either knowingly or unknowingly – in order to bring out your ugly parts. In order to prove to themselves that you are, in fact, the monster they suspect you to be.
And here’s the thing about those people – the ones who are always seeing the ugliness in others: they are the ones who cannot see anything else in themselves. They’re the ones with demons that are bigger than you, bigger than your relationship, bigger than you will ever be able to battle on their behalf.
The people who are looking for the worst parts of other people are doing so because they want company in the way they see themselves.
And here’s something I wish I had learned very early on in life:
If someone only sees your ugliness, leave.
Don’t be with someone who is searching to expose all your dark parts. Don’t give yourself over to a person who is committed to believing the worst in everyone they meet.
Because there is absolutely ugliness inside of you. There’s ugliness inside of all of us.
But there’s also goodness. And compassion. And honesty. And integrity, and strength. And which parts of ourselves prevail just depends on which parts we call upon.
So be with someone who calls upon your strengths.
Date someone who sees your potential for ugliness. Who knows that it is buried inside you – but who doesn’t need to bring it to the surface.
Date someone who sees your capacity for ugliness but also your massive potential for goodness. For tenacity. For love. Date someone who understands that you’re a volatile mix of good and evil – just like every other human being – and who tries, every day, to inspire the good in you.
Don’t date the person who tests your virtues, who pushes your limits, who tries to break you down to expose the worst parts of you. Date the person who pushes you to bring out the best.
The one who encourages you and supports you and makes you wake up genuinely wanting to be the biggest, most magnanimous version of yourself every day.
Date the person who understands that they themselves are dark and twisted and filled with landmines of vices, but that they’re also compassionate and patient forgiving – and that’s the part of themselves they’re working to grow. That’s the person they’re working on becoming.
Because the truth is, there’s good and bad in all of us. But which part of us grows depends on which part we feed.
So be with someone who feeds the best parts of who you are.
And as a result, you’ll both grow into the biggest, most magnanimous versions of yourselves.