I listen to people express their desire for a relationship and romantic love and there are a significant portion of these who come across embarrassed and almost apologetic. They feel as if they have to defend how they feel and what they believe, and some of these people, when confronted with romantic partners who are presenting them with something less than mutually fulfilling, will back away from their desires for the sake of keeping the peace and not wanting to appear “uptight”. Next thing, they’ve been on a permanent date for numerous years with one particular person who keeps flip-flapping in and out of their life or who keeps putting the brakes on any movement. They believe that what they want is wrong or that if they hang in there and keep trying to be as pleasing as possible, that the other party will finally cave and meet their needs, expectations, and wishes.
It’s OK to desire love and a relationship. If we get involved with somebody whose preference is for something else, that doesn’t invalidate our desire. Their preferences are a matter of taste for their life. Imposing theirs upon us, whether it’s them or us doing it, is to carry on as if their preferences are objectively ‘right’.
Sometimes our attitude to relationships reminds me of our attitude to enjoying life and retirement; we work ourselves to the bone and by the time we retire, we might be too frickin worn out with ill health or shrinking energy levels to actually enjoy our lives.
Similarly, we could spend a significant chunk of our life pursuing that one person that we’ve decided will be ‘it’ and that they’re eventually going to make us the exception to the rule or, maybe we’ll chase variations of the same person. If we finally get them to succumb to a relationship, we’ll probably be emotionally exhausted and bankrupt of energy, esteem, and even the the other things that used to matter to us, that it will all be a bit of anti-climax. Is this it?, we’ll wonder.
It’s important to be honest about what we want, not just so that we can be more authentic by being and doing the things that are in alignment with our values including our needs, expectations, and desires, but also so that we can consider how we’re going to go about fulfilling our desires.
We must consider the consequences of the option that we pursue.
Sometimes we get so focused on what we want and the basic premise that, yes, we’re only human and it’s only natural for us to want to love, be loved, and desire companionship, that we forget to consider the fact that there are various options for arriving into a relationship, all with consequences.
Not all relationships are created equal. Not all versions of what we see as ‘love’ can be pursued or held onto, because they end up being pain. They also end up being what may amount to decimating whatever self-esteem we have.
Having a fast fling or romance may result in a heady rush of feelings, some great sex, some fun times and the sense of being in a relationship or the potential for one, but the likelihood is that if we’ve moved too fast to either get to know each other, or to notice some rather important factors that indicate whether we have shared core values or compatibility issues, it’s not going to grow into a medium to long-term relationship.
Starting up a booty call or Friends With Benefits arrangement means sex and potentially other trappings of a relationship without the relationship. This might suit us depending on what our needs, expectations etc., are at the time when it starts or just based on the typical pattern of who were are. Equally though, the consequence of getting into a casual relationship (oxymoron alert) is that we get treated and regarded casually. We might experience selfishness and inconsiderateness. If our feelings, needs etc., grow, the consequence will be that we no longer fit into the arrangement and if we continue anyway, the consequence of compromising our needs will be pain and anger, with a lot of it directed inward.
We can try to shortcut the process by getting involved with somebody else’s partner or spouse, but the likelihood is (especially if it drags out and it’s an altogether toxic relationship), that it’s going to be an affair where we both playact at a relationship. Fantasy and pain alert. If we end up together, we’ll have the relationship but then we’ll also have trust issues.
Getting together with the person who likes things on their terms and to be in control of us and the relationship may mean that we get to be in a relationship and to be directed (if we’re afraid of asserting ourselves) but we’re potentially also going to feel bossed around and diminished while bubbling with resentment and frustration.
Getting involved with somebody who is narcissistically inclined at best even if they’re good looking, admired, or intelligent as well being exciting when they’re ‘on’, means getting involved with somebody who is selfish, cruel, and incapable of empathy, which equals major problems and intense pain especially when they’re ‘off’.
Marrying the person who is just like one or both of our parents who we have unresolved issues with that have us looking to fill up voids means that we may end up marrying into a repeat of old patterns and end up feeling like a child while they’re the boss of us.
Getting into a relationship may lead to the discovery that it will not right the wrongs of the past or give us our self-esteem. We’ll still have to give us that.
A consequence of not treating and regarding ourselves well is that we’ll be so starved out that somebody can come along and showboat with their crumbs and it will look like a loaf in comparison to what we’re giving us. We won’t recognise a healthy relationship (or an unhealthy one for that matter).
If we treat and regard ourselves with love, care, trust, and respect, as well as well as valuing our values, a consequence of this is that we’ll be that much more inclined to be in relationships that are in harmony with this. If we values ourselves and use healthy boundaries as a way of expressing our self-esteem, we get so much closer to enjoying our desires.
It is more than OK to want to love and be loved. It’s more than OK to want a relationship but when we’re honest about why we want it, not because we’re questioning the validity of it but because we’re ensuring that we’re coming from a place of healthy desire as opposed to looking to right the wrongs of the past and to fill up voids created in childhood, we stop needing a relationship as a form of salvation. We stop looking for external esteem to be our self-esteem. We know then we are giving as well as receiving, not going into our involvements with an underlying motivation to ‘get’ validation out of it. We know that we’re loving, not piling on the feelings in the hope that it will create a tipping point of reciprocation.
We are more conscious, aware, and present, and before we saddle up with somebody, we consider the consequences of our choices because we are responsible for us. We are responsible for keeping us in alignment with who we are.
We stop selling ourselves short. We care about us as well as others. We allow vulnerability into the mix. We love.
PS My seven-year old reminded me that it’s Valentine’s Day this weekend. I’d totally forgotten (I’m actually away with the kids haha) although admittedly we don’t do anything for it normally.