I have always thought it interesting how much we all take for granted. Our human nature seems to be very well wired for the over-looking of the very things which are most important.
In relationships, people may over-look their partners, especially when they are always loyal, always reliable, always trustworthy and always ready to “catch a grenade” for the one they love. On the other hand, there are countless others who have lost weeks of sleep over a partner who won’t come home at night, who won’t declare their affections, who won’t take things to the next level or whose ardor has just suddenly cooled.
This phenomenon stretches beyond romantic relationships, most notably; it has been studied in the context of classroom environments especially with regards to young children.
Take a trip down memory lane, maybe to your kindergarten class…can’t remember that far? That’s understandable, so how about primary school? Or even secondary school? That’s better right? Good. Now imagine this typical classroom where the teacher is regarded as an authority figure, but one that is both loved and respected (in other words not one of the dictatorial tyrants that many of us encountered growing up… who I love, by the way). In this setting, you’ll notice that there are quiet kids who have no problems obeying rules, sitting still, doing schoolwork and doing as they are told. You’ll also notice that there are a few other kids who have trouble doing every single one of the aforementioned things.
My question to you intelligent readers is this; which group do you think will ultimately receive the most attention from the teacher? If you said, “The second group!” or “The rowdy and disruptive kids!” you would be correct! If you said, “Those hell-raising little runts from hell!!!” or “Those out-of-control, son-of-the-mask, baby-demons!!!!!” you are also correct (but may I respectfully suggest anger management classes and lots of therapy?).
Indeed, studies have long concluded that disruptive kids and kids with behavioral problems tend to command the most attention from teachers (and in the home as well). The next question is; Where does that leave the “good” (I use quotation marks because this word is very subjective) kids? What happens to the quiet kids? The intelligent kids? The obedient kids? That’s right! They get a lot less attention from the teacher and therefore, they receive a lot less praise and positive reinforcement. They also receive harsher criticism when they fall short because they are expected to do what is right all the time. Naturally, the next question I’ll ask is: Is this fair? (Please, formulate and put forward your opinions regarding this, I’d like to hear them).
To continue, using the above as a case study, it would then follow that the values of taking “good” things and people for granted are introduced to us at a very early age. “If you want the teacher’s attention, be disruptive in class; If you are well-behaved, no one will notice you”. Later on in life this becomes; “Women don’t appreciate good guys, treat them like crap and they’ll love you even more…” or “Don’t show him you love him, don’t return his calls for a few days, make him miss you and he’ll chase you…” (Well, this one is actually true, right men?)
In any case, it would seem that our dating rules are born out this very same system. With such flawed thinking, how can we expect matters to magically correct themselves after we have entered into a relationship with another person? If he or she showers us with affection, we are more likely to take them for granted. If we are too nice, we assume that they might do the same.
Some men and women intentionally pick problematic partners, whether it is due to lack of knowledge or the need for excitement or for the challenge (sometimes it's a combination of all three) is a whole other article. Ofcourse, it's a fiasco and not a bit surprising when a person who barely knows his/her own self decides to seek-out and bring another human being into the mix of unresolved issues already swirling around their own personal pot of life.
In conclusion, yes, human beings do seem to have a tendency for valuing the wrong things (did someone say "The Jersey Shore"?) and over-looking the things to which attention really ought to be given. We have actually built a society that is modeled around these values. However, it does not have to continue this way and each of us can begin to change things in our own personal lives.
If there is someone you know who deserves your love and appreciation, why not let them know how much they mean to you? Marriages would not be falling apart on a pandemic level if spouses truly knew how to value and appreciate each other. I honestly believe that when we put an end to our habit of mis-treating people who do not deserve it, we will all be so much happier for having done so.