The Power of Intuition

I’ve always had a gift for reading people. Since I was young, I could size people up quickly. I could hear inflections in their voice, see quick glimpses of expression and observe subtle body language that seemed to elude a lot of other people. I could strongly sense if someone was friend or foe and a lot of things in-between.

There have, however, been two gaping holes in the power of my intuition throughout my life. One is the desire to have people be other than what they are and the belief that if I simply give someone enough of a chance, they can overcome the first impression that I receive from them. The second, hinging strongly upon the first, is my tendency to completely ignore my intuition when it comes to men that I’m interested in.

This was recently proven to me quite effectively in a benign sort of way. I met a man, an attractive man who ended up asking me out. He was very quiet throughout most of the social gathering and mainly stared at me. If I got a quick image at one point during our evening, as he sat placidly eating a large slice of cheesecake, of a brown-eyed cow chewing his cud, I chastised myself for my mean judgment and deemed him “reserved”. Yet…our subsequent three dates that followed would prove that “reserved” can also mean “quiet” or even “boring”. He would primarily sit, throughout the date, staring at me with nothing to say. I carried almost the entire conversation and he would speak only when prompted. At one point, when asked pointedly why he was staring at me without speaking, he volunteered: “You’re just so pretty to look at.” He gave enough interesting information on the first date that I determined there must be more beneath the surface, just waiting to come out if given enough time. Nope. After two more dates, it was more boring and awkward than ever. I quickly grew tired of being an ornament that he gazed at without speaking.

My most recent attempt at a relationship with J followed much the same path. Our email and phone conversations left me with an impression of someone who was slightly off, but after repeated attempts to woo me into a date, I acquiesced. Upon meeting him, my initial judgment was of someone who had a difficult time responding appropriately to social and emotional cues, seemed to nearly burn with  frenetic intensity and who had a significant amount of emotional damage. Yet…I told myself not to judge him by his childhood and his former addictions. Lust and a tender heart toward the little, abandoned boy he once was had me muting those voices in my head that said: “Run”. So I stayed, fell, and found out the hard way just how correct my intuition about him was.

I’ve had to admit that even D, as I approach the two year anniversary of the first time he emotionally gutted me, rubbed my intuition the wrong way upon our initial date. As he strutted toward me across the restaurant, finger pointed towards me in triumphant pleasure over a practical joke he played before he even met me face-to-face, my first thought was “Schmucky, insincere frat-boy turned yuppy with a strong streak of mean”. Instead of heeding that intuition, which I would receive tiny glimpses of again and again throughout our nearly 19 month arc, I let myself come to see his other good qualities and fell in love. If I’d simply walked away after that first date, I could have saved myself a lot of heartbreak and angst.

Yet therein lies my dilemma: No human being is ever only one thing. D did prove to be schmucky, insincere and to have a strong streak of meanness. He could also be unconventional, loving and tender. J was a person who had spent a lifetime running from his emotional damage and thus, couldn’t understand the emotional cues of others because of his addictions. Yet he was also intelligent, deep and exciting.

My glitch lies in always wanting to see the best qualities of another person. I’ve always believe that was the right thing to do, the loving thing to do. Yet I’ve wasted a lot of time and energy doing it. After all, the man who beats his wife so badly she ends up in the hospital didn’t win her, initially, with his abuse. He won her with his good qualities, with the best part of himself. In the end, though, if she’d listened to the voice that told her he seemed to fly off the handle easily or needed to control others a bit too much, perhaps she could have avoided that hospital trip altogether.

How would my life have been different if I’d listened to my intuition from the very first moment I met someone? Is being judgmental a bad thing or a good thing? Or does it depend on the individual doing the judging? I’ve always been able to sort out the surface from the interior pretty easily, so perhaps it’s easier to trust my gut. When do you temper a poor first impression with the ability to give people a second chance? These are some of the questions I’m having to ponder. According to my therapist, I need to be more judgmental. I’ve also realized my initial first impressions have always been right, I’ve simply ignored them. Yet… something about the concept of being judgmental troubles me.

Where is the boundary between acceptance and judgment?

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