If you continue to be two faced you’ll never be compatible with anyone!
Venus fly traps, of course trap flies and other insects, eat out their innards and spit out their exoskeletons. But they also play nice with them for pollination. Their nectared blossoms are on long stems a safe distance from the traps, a sweet shop run at arms length by the butcher shop across the way. The plant is of two minds, so to speak, about insects.
People are also often of two minds. We want opposite things, and like the fly trap, we often keep our opposite desires at arms length from each other, the right hand not knowing what the left hand wants, and not wanting to know either. Unlike the fly trap, we can be confronted about or two minds, like flies saying to the trap, “one minute you’re nurturing me; the next your eating me, what’s the deal here?”
Livestock, of course, could ask us the same, an inconsistency often noted by vegetarians, but our two-facedness runs much wider than that. For example:
“Just be yourself” vs. “Wow. That’s offensive.”
“Why can’t people just be honest?” vs. “Why can’t people just be nice?”
“Let the best man win” vs. “It better be me.”
“I want to have paid my dues” vs. “I don’t want to pay my dues.”
Or in dating and partnerships:
“I’m feeling suffocated here” vs. “Why don’t you care more about me?”
“I’m looking for love at first sight” vs. “Can I check your references, I’ve been so badly hurt that I can’t trust anyone.”
“Pay attention my best features” vs. “If you notice when my best features disappear I’ll be furious.”
“So I feel safe in relationship, you’ve got to want me more than I want you” vs. “Jeez, why can’t you be my equal?”
“I’ve got to be with someone hot” vs. “I just want my partner to be my best friend.”
“Why are you so sensitive?” vs. “Ouch. How dare you hurt me.”
Or at work:
“I need a secure job” vs. “I feel so trapped working here.
“Employees need to think for themselves” vs. “Why can’t they just follow orders?”
“We’re a team” vs. “Take it or leave it.”
“Other people are so closed minded” vs. “That’s a ridiculous idea. I’m not buying it at all.”
The list goes on, and if you call people on any of these opposites, you’re likely to get a reason why the problem is all in your head. They’ll tell you there’s no incompatibility in their desires. Other people are hypocrites, not them.
That’s meta-hypocrisy: Hypocrisy about being a hypocrite.
Setting aside the immorality of it, I’ll argue that life goes better and gets more interesting when we face our two-facedness. They say own your shadow. Here I’m talking about owning the shadow of not being willing to admit to wanting opposite things.
You can waste years looking for a compatible partner, job and lifestyle and never finding them because the incompatibility is in you. They say that if you don’t truly love yourself you’ll never find true love with others. I’m saying that if you don’t find true compatibility with yourself, you never find true compatibility with others.
Why? Because you’ll jerk people around. If you fake internal compatibility that you don’t really have, then you’ll give yourself the impression of consistency by always making everyone else wrong for being on the wrong side of your two-sidedness.
What then is true compatibility with yourself? It’s admitting your internal incompatibilities, owning them, embracing them, facing them. Inurning yourself to the news that you are of two minds, getting compassionate about your two minds, becoming one with the two-facedness implicit in the human condition, and then lightening up within that reality, which is the point of healthy irony.
As the flytrap demonstrates it’s not just the human condition, it’s the living condition. Life addresses tough judgment calls from the get-go, simple things like needing to stay open to nutrients and closed to toxins. Insects have to get close to nectar but far from traps. Life tries to guess right. Adaptations like the trap’s arms-length blossom stem are solutions that reconcile to the extent possible opposite aims. In genetics it’s called pleiotropy—many pulls. A gene can produce two opposite traits, one adaptive the other maladaptive and persists by finding what balance it can.
With humans the many pulls just become more plentiful. So many options; so many upsides and downsides.
You can’t reconcile all of your incompatibilities but you can negotiate with yourself, deciding what you want to do about them. If you’ve been looking for a partner who needs you more than you need that partner and then find yourself frustrated that your partner is not your equal, decide which you want more, and take ownership of the disappointment that comes from surrendering the other desire. It’s not your partner’s fault he or she can’t live up to your double standards.
There may be no better definition of what it means to grow up than facing our two-facedness.