Mr.2young is one of the nicest people you could ever meet. From what I can tell, from what (admittedly little) I know about him he's trustworthy, caring, considerate, kind, and thoughtful. (Ok, yes, there are some redundancies in that statement.) He's a nice guy without being a faux, creeptastic, "Nice Guy" (as we've discussed before.) And his age doesn't really bother me anymore.
No, what bothers me the most is what his really poor spelling is a symptom of... It's a lack of knowledge, perhaps a lack of awareness. He tells me he has a learning disability for which he's getting help from the academic skills center of his college, and I don't hold that against him. Hell, I couldn't read until I was in the 4th grade--I had to be put in a special ed program.
However, since the 4th grade I admit that I haven't struggled much academically. I don't study--not really. I never have. I'm just good at retaining information the first time I hear it (mostly because I'm genuinely fascinated by the world and how it works.) I write my papers the day they're due... and I get high marks. I sometimes feel guilty about this. I know I'm not particularly smart or talented... I just, I don't know, remember things. And I'm fast at comprehending new information and integrating it with what I've already learned to come to a conclusion or a course of action.
And Mr.2young? He struggles... A LOT. He was having difficulty with his homework yesterday; It was a topic I haven't studied since the 8th grade, but I knew more off the top of my head than he did after having read books for a week. I spent my evening explaining the topic to him... inwardly I was cringing. Is this the person I want to be with? Do we really have anything in common? I am someone with little patience. I wanted to shout at him, "HOW CAN YOU NOT KNOW THIS STUFF!?" and "How is it possible that you've not retained information you read 30 minutes ago!?"
I didn't yell. Don't worry. I didn't.
How much is the learning disability and how much is *HIM*? I also don't know.
I tried to be patient and understanding and compassionate. Mostly because I could see how devastated he was. He was close to tears at numerous points as he struggled to understand different concepts. Perhaps this wouldn't be so worrisome except for the fact that he wants to be a teacher-- he wants to teach these same concepts to students... and at the moment? I wouldn't want him teaching my (hypothetical) kids anything. I cringe.
I do feel compassion for him. I can't say I understand his frustration. I don't know what it's like to not comprehend something at that level... perhaps mostly because if I don't understand something the first time I learn about it I seek other sources for clarification until I finally DO understand. Perhaps that's what he's lacking, but I don't know how you provide someone with the impetus to seek out knowledge when you don't have a roadmap. [Also, I resisted the urge to tell him, "Wikipedia is not an appropriate lesson planning guide..."]
He hated to let me see him like that, I know. He was hurt, and embarrassed, and ashamed (the word he used.) It bothers him that I'm nearly done with my second masters (no great feat, quite frankly), and he doesn't have a single degree. I was at a loss as to how to comfort him. I did tell him that people have many different kinds of gifts, and if academics wasn't his strength he made up for it in other ways. That, and the fact that I've known many a Ph.D who can barely tie her shoelaces, let alone function as an adult human being, prove credentials are not much of an indicator of intelligence.
I worry though. I feel like this will be the main reason this doesn't work out. How much am I willing to compromise? How much do I forgo intellectual stimulation for kindheartedness? (He's not DUMB, mind you. He's just not knowledgeable. Given that he doesn't seem to retain information though, I don't know that this is something "fixable." Not that one should ever try to "fix" someone else either, because that's just a futile task.) My relationship with him is probably the healthiest relationship I've ever been in. I feel comfortable, and easy, and free to be myself, and to know I'm completely accepted for who I am.
I want to be able to offer him the same gift in return... but I don't know if I can accept this about him.
(I know many people will probably think me a terrible person for admitting that, but I do think that intellectual compatibility is a cornerstone for a good relationship. Though, as evidenced with other people (ahem. Muckraker.) I also acknowledge that intelligence is not a substitute for the other qualities that Mr.2young has in spades.)
So... My other question is... how long to I give myself to figure this out? He likes me. A LOT. I worry that the longer I let this go on the more I'll hurt him. And yet I'm inclined to let it go on for my own selfish reasons-- because he makes me feel really, really great about myself. This also probably makes me a terrible person.