Seems great, right? Seems like the kind of advice you get after a break-up to bolster your self-worth. Damnit – you deserve to be treated better than some ordinary schmuck. You are special.
And I get the gist of the phrase. It means you should be with someone who thinks you’re great. I agree with this. Please all people everywhere befriend, date or marry someone who thinks you are great.
Not ordinary, but special with sprinkles on top.
If you shouldn’t be with someone who treats you like you’re ordinary, then the opposite is to be with someone who treats you like you’re special. The sentiment is good – that’s not my issue. My issue is that sometimes how we define special is kind of unrealistic, and the people that expect especially special feelings of specialness are demanding (and not usually welcome at my dinner parties).
Special should mean that your partner spends quality time with you working towards a common goal of living together or having kids or getting married – whatever your relationship goals are together – and treating you with love and respect. And this happens because you are compatible as a couple. That’s special because not everyone is compatible.
Special should not mean your partner must treat you like a princess or a chosen one whose needs must be met at every turn and whose wants must be attended to post-haste. Special does not mean your partner must devote their time and energy to all things you.
Why not the me-me-me show? I thought we agreed that I’m special!
Dr. Margaret Paul, Ph.D., wrote an article, The Need to Feel Special, which states the difference between wanting to feel special in a healthy way (making yourself feel special, rather than relying on others to do this for you) and wanting to feel special in an unhealthy way (assuming someone else is responsible for making you feel special by demanding their attention, compliments and time). The likelihood of having successful romantic relationships is low if your expectations are unrealistic, and asking someone to treat you like you are exceptional all the time is definitely unrealistic.
If I may translate into layman’s terms: Making others bow before you is pure crazy time. Stop it.
Do you see, hear and read what I see, hear and read?
The flip-side to my concern is that we seem to be hating on ordinary. What’s wrong with ordinary? And why are we so hell bent to be anything but? L’amour, folks. Movies, music and popular fiction tell us that without being special, we will not be loved.
Let’s start with the movies. Does the ordinary girl or guy get the guy or girl? Yes, but not until she gets a make-over and he accomplishes some sporty/brainy coup. Before the transformation, they are typically ignored or bullied. So that tells us that ordinary isn’t good enough, and if ordinary isn’t good enough then we can’t reasonably accept being treated as such.
Let’s look at music. Does the ordinary person inspire lusty lyrics? No. Unless in video form, she gets a make-over (think of the emblematic librarian undoing her bun to release a sex kitten) and he accomplishes some singing or dancing coup. Again, ordinary isn’t good enough.
Let’s look at popular fiction. Do ordinary characters instigate adoration? In The Hunger Games and Harry Potter, both main characters are normal looking. They are pretty much ignored and taken for granted, until she (Hunger Games) gets a make-over and he (Harry Potter) accomplishes some magic coup.
So I get it. Everything we see, hear and read tells us that ordinary isn’t good enough.
But at the end of the day …
You are, like me and most other people, ordinary. We are not movie characters, song inspirations or novel heroines. We are just ordinary folks with ordinary jobs eating ordinary meals with our ordinary family and friends. And there is nothing wrong with that.
I am ordinary. I do not have extra limbs, super powers, or skills that make me above average. I am not royalty. I have never accomplished a coup of any kind. I’ve never even had a make-over. And I don’t want to be treated like I am some extra super-duper magical piece of exceptional specialness waiting to be unwrapped and fawned over. It’s naïve and unsustainable and creepy.
I want to be treated with love and respect. I want someone to enjoy my company and look forward to spending time with me. I want someone to love me for who I am – my highs, my lows, my quips, my quirks. I want someone to laugh at my jokes and not care when I wear my ugly green shorts that I should throw away but won’t because they are too comfortable. And I’ll return the favour.
For a regular ‘ol non-special human being, I think that’s pretty special.