Sex columnist Dan Savage was at a speaking engagement and received this question from an audience member: "I can't stay interested in a guy for longer than two months. What is wrong with me? I find a flaw and can't get over it. For example, if a guy chews with his mouth open, I could never see him again." Here's his no-holds-barred response.
"There is no settling down without some settling for. There is no long-term relationship without not just putting up with your partner's flaws, but accepting them and then pretending they aren't there. And we like to call it, in my house, 'paying the price of admission.' ...
Your boyfriend who chews with his mouth open, you can say, 'Chew with your fucking mouth shut,' and hopefully he'll get there. But if he never does, him chewing with his mouth open might be the price of admission. ...
And you can't have a long-term relationship with someone unless you're willing to identify the things, you know, the prices of admission you're willing to pay, and the ones you're not. But the ones you're not, the list of things you're not willing to put up with, you really have to be able to count it on one hand. And it can't be superficial bullshit like chews with the mouth open.
When we were young, we had to say, you know, there's someone out there who's perfect for me. ...
'The one' doesn't fucking exist. 'The one' is a lie. But the beautiful part of the lie is that it's a lie you can tell yourself.
A long-term relationship that's successful is really a myth that two people create together ... and myths are built of lies. There's usually some kernel of truth.
My boyfriend and I have a relationship built on a solid foundation of lies and deceit. When you think about it, you meet somebody for the first time, and they're not presenting, you know, their warts-and-all self to you. They're presenting their idealized self to you. They are leading with their best. ... And then eventually you're farting in front of each other.
Eventually you get to see the person who is behind that facade of their best. ... And they get to see the person behind your facade. You know, your lie self.
And what's beautiful about a long-term relationship, and what can be transformative about it, is I pretend every day that my boyfriend is the lie that I met when I first met him. And he does the same favor to me.
And we then are obligated to live up to the lies we told each other about who we are. We are then forced to be better people than we actually are, because it's expected of us by each other.
And you can, in a long-term relationship, really make your lie self come true. ...
And that's the only way you become 'the one.' It's because somebody who is willing to pretend you are 'the one' that they were waiting for, 'the one' they wanted. Their 'one.'
Because you're not. Nobody is.
No two people are perfect for each other. Ever. Period."
This may come off a lot more grating than it actually is, but Savage's delivery makes a big difference. Here's a video of the full response: