Many years ago my friend Dane said I was too patient with people, let them get away with too much, gave them too many free swings at me. There were times he was spot on right. I recall one occasion in which I was, as it turned out, being far too patient with a problematic roommate. At the time I was living in the Lower East Side, East Second Street between avenues C and D. I did reach the end of my patience (a bit late in the game, truth be told) and found another roommate.
But, still, to this day I am patient with people and situations I care about. Why? Why the patience? The answer has more than one aspect. Usually I genuinely care about the person, group or situation. When it comes to people I truly care about (love even), who else should I be patient and forgiving with? (Those you are close too can inflict the deepest wounds, thus the need for forgiveness.) I would rather be too patient than not been patient enough. After all, people have been patient with me. That, and I’ve never known anyone, least of all me, who can claim the mantle of perfection. I have, like you, known some who think they can. (A sad lot to be sure.) If, at some point, I am going to sever ties with a person or group or situation I genuinely care about (or love) I want to know that I have given my all with all my heart, and soul – and might.
I suppose the question is how do you know when, exactly, you’ve been patient enough? How can you tell? It is not always easy and I am not going to pretend I have the singular answer. For me it revolves around respect and honesty. Am I being treated with respect? If not, when (if) addressed, does it get resolved in a healthy way? Are the people involved being honest? If not, do they own it? Without respect and honesty you are doing nothing more than trying to make uniform shapes out of smoke. If this is the case and those involved are unwilling or unable to take responsibility for their choices, it’s time to disengage.
As to whether I am too patient or not… I think we do more damage to each other with impatience and the absence of forgiveness than we do with patience and forgiveness. So, if I am going to overdo it, I’d rather overdo it on the patience and forgiveness fronts. It is what I would want from someone who cared about me. No one has the right to expect what they will not give.