Today's Wednesday Factoid is: What mistake do you keep making again and again?
It's been a while since I had this problem, but I have repeatedly trusted other people to have the best intentions toward me when they did not.
Some examples are really obvious and totally excusable, like dating someone cringeworthy in high school. I did that. He used me for his self-esteem pump and tried to badger intimacy out of me, and though it didn't fall entirely in his favor, it wasn't fun for me. Seeing other people in pain is really hard for me, and I have a habit of sacrificing my time and my comfort to help them.
And in general, I don't mind sacrificing my resources if the person actually does have my best interests at heart. I've worked hard and paid dearly for it multiple times for people who deserved it, and those were not mistakes.
Which is why it's hard to stop making the mistake when it is a mistake.
Not that long ago honestly, I let someone get close to me and essentially groom me to accept abuse. I cared that the person's life was difficult and I cared that they weren't happy. This person was generous with some resources, and was unusually respectful in some senses that most people like them are not. But their jealousy made my social life a mess; their selfishness in areas where it actually mattered were not drowned out by the times they were considerate; they frequently created impossible situations where I felt like my access to free choice was limited by the consequences they would invoke if I went against their preferences.
Trusting that person was a mistake. And chances are I will make that mistake again in the future, only realizing in hindsight that it had become dangerous and limiting.
I do think I learn with each incident, and I do think I prefer to modify my process of creating nuance in these relationships rather than becoming less open to new relationships. I think I just recognize the warning signs earlier now and I let them get away with less.
However, what hurts more than these people doing these things was how much worse they would have been if they had fully "worked." If, for instance, I had been the kind of person whose self-esteem required approval and acceptance to the point that I could be talked into unwanted sex or who would drown out the truth of her own heart because someone else had convinced me their pain was more valid, more fierce, more deserving of my attention.
I react to people's pain with authentic desire to heal. I will probably continue to slip sometimes and burn myself with other people's fire while I'm trying to put it out.
The trick as I get older will be to learn to be more precise with my extinguishing methods and see the signs earlier if the fire is an honest blaze or if it's arson constructed to trap me.