Previously, I mentioned the “buts” in a relationship. What are the “buts” I was referring to? Let’s talk about buts. Big buts, little buts and all the buts in between. No matter how you paint it, a but is a but is a but. We shall call him But.
Merriam Webster defines But as:
conjunction ˈbət—used to introduce a statement that adds something to a previous statement and usually contrasts with it in some way. Examples of but:
- That dog has done nothing but bark all day.
- There were so many aphids on the plant that I had no choice but to throw it away.
Veronica Tanzen defines But in a very different way:
conjunction ˈbət —used to justify the irritating or incompatible characteristics of a romantic partner. Examples of but:
- I know he gropes other women when I’m with him, but he does all the repairs around the house without complaining.
- I know that he gets violent when he’s drunk, but he brings home a solid paycheque.
Although both men and women are guilty of turning a blind eye to their respective Buts, women seem to be the worst offenders. I suppose it’s a part of our internal circuitry that damns us to be the constant givers-of-second-chances.
Am I standing on a soapbox right now, denouncing all men for their flaws? Hell no! Poll some men, and I’m sure they can tell you many of the she-Buts they have lived with. I am simply stating that we need to be true to ourselves and accept the fact that not everyone is compatible with everyone, and we should not sacrifice who we are for any type of relationship.
Prior to diving headfirst into a relationship, most people don’t seem to take the time to establish what their non-negotiables are. That lack of emotional due diligence, more often than not, results in hurt feelings, bitter hearts, and decimated relationships.
Currently there is no such thing as a “backbone transplant,” so we all need to find a way to strengthen our own.
“What? Stand up for myself and no-longer accept But in my life? That’s not like me at all. My life just wouldn’t be right if I wasn’t consistently sacrificing my happiness for the sake of having someone around who can open the pickle jar for me.”
When did I have my epiphany?
It was tied to the occasion I cried on the shoulder of my daughter’s godfather (my then-husband’s best friend) about my abysmal marriage, and he said, “Do you hear yourself? All I hear is but, but, but. When are you going to wake up and leave him?”
You’d think his comment would have made me realize that my Buts were the of the non-negotiable kind – well, it didn’t. It wasn’t until I began to repeatedly encounter But on my new life path that the light bulb above my head got brighter. As I recounted stories from one of my new relationships to my dating mentor, But no longer rolled off of my tongue. Instead, But threw himself melodramatically out of my mouth, cannon-balled into my cup of piping hot coffee, and sprayed my delicate blouse with the stain of his existence. After a handful of ruined blouses, I realized that But no longer had a place in my life.
I’m not saying you should toss him to the curb because he leaves the cap off the toothpaste tube, blows his nose in the shower, or tells the occasional off-color joke at your office’s annual formal dinner party. Small Buts can usually be rectified by simple communication.
“My love, there is nothing more invigorating than our showers together, but could you please refrain from blowing your nose while I’m in there with you?” Or, “Sweetheart, whenever you leave the cap off of the toothpaste, the cat hops up on the counter and sucks on it.”
Be careful of the latter, as you may continue to find a capless toothpaste tube on your counter, but dear Whiskers seems to have “run away.”
The bottom line is you should pick your But-battles and establish if they are “make or break” scenarios worth doing something about.
If admonishing his nose-blowing is going to stand between you and the erotic sudsy lovin’ you look forward to, decide if you are willing to live without it, or able to turn a blind eye and simply do your best not to be in the line of fire.
If But is of the breaking kind (like his frequent habit of groping Mrs. Noodlemeyer while she is tending her award-winning azaleas, followed by salacious comments like, “Mmm. Mmm. MMM! I’ve never tapped an octogenarian before. I bet she sure knows her way around the block!” Then stand up tall and say with me:
“Goodbye But… don’t let the door hit you in the…”