Someone’s motivation completely matters in relationships. Someone’s motivation can also be completely irrelevant.
I’ve hurt or disappointed a lot of people in my life.
You probably have too.
Sometimes I didn’t realize the damage I was doing until much later, far, far too late to do anything about it.
You probably have too.
Most of those times, I understand why I acted the way I did. Even – perhaps especially – the times I now regret. The times where I later realized where I found out I was wrong, or where I was unconciously reacting to a trigger or stuck in a pattern I couldn’t even see at the time.
It makes a difference when you understand the other person’s motivations and circumstances. When you know that it’s not malice behind their actions, but a misunderstanding, or a different point of view, or just cluelessness.
But that understanding don’t excuse my actions. That doesn’t get me “off the hook”.
At the end of the day, there’s still the effect those actions have.
And in relationships – romantic, professional, and personal – that’s part of the price of admission.
She doesn’t like to kiss because of past bad experiences? I get – and respect – that, but that’s a big problem for me in a romantic relationship, and has figured into my decisions whether to date someone, because I really like kissing in romantic relationships.
The freelancer couldn’t meet deadlines multiple times because of chronic pain? I can understand the why, but that’s going to have an effect if I need the work done quickly.
His anxiety led him to cancel over and over again after we made plans? Totally understandable. Also going to figure into my decision of who I make plans with for the weekend; getting stood up (even by friends) really does a number on my self-esteem.
In all these cases, there’s a point where understanding the other person’s situation and reasons is not enough for me to deal with the problems or damage caused.
In lots of cases, there’s a point where it doesn’t matter how much the other person understands my reasons and motivations; it’s not enough for them to want to deal with me.
And that’s okay too.
Because – as long as their motives aren’t evil – it isn’t about fault, but just what the people involved are able to deal with and accept – and what everyone needs to do in order to take care of themselves.