I keep running into people throughout my life who are trying to find their way and avoid making mistakes. Often, these people are generous and loving (or at least consider themselves to be), but they feel they have given too much in past relationships, so they put up a guard and a defense, and move through life with armor and a hard shell, thinking they need to be very strategic for every step they take on their paths. As though love works according to one’s ego. As though a relationship based purely on strategy could ever actually make anyone happy. Often, these people are so consumed with their own concept of identity as a “giver,” that they can’t see what it is being offered, consistently, for them to receive. Their hands are up, preventing anything new or contrary to come in, because they assume they know better than anyone else about how the world works.
These people really piss me off.
But I still love them.
So much about intimate partnership involves a dance of giving and receiving. It’s cyclical. If we are a loving person, we naturally want to give. But if the person we’re with doesn’t know how to receive, we feel like a spout pouring with no bucket to collect our many gifts. So we have to know how to do both if we are going to enter a partnership. We need to be aware of what’s being offered. Two people have to really know themselves and the way they function, so that the other person can be made aware of what’s operating on a deeper level. That way, instead of looking around blindly for what you expect or want, you begin to recognize how to receive when a person’s gifts are being offered, and you enter into the flow with respect and mutual understanding.
Because that’s how a partnership works. It is not about intense love and passion. It’s just not. That’s a fling. A partnership is respect and mutual understanding, with hopefully a lot of dirty sex and laughing thrown in.
Respect and mutual understanding needs to be established at the outset of a relationship, within the first few weeks. It happens through observation, patience, and generosity. You need to check each other out, the way two animals do when they meet for the first time. You have to get a sense of what’s happening. And then (not too soon!) you begin to communicate about what you see, what are your assumptions, what you believe you need, whether things are functioning well. No one would start a business or a new job without having weekly check-ins, without seeing how it’s going, without giving feedback. And yet we want our relationships to be only sweet passion without recognizing there needs to be some sense involved. We cannot become consumed by our emotions, just like we can’t be consumed by emotions at a job, but we also have to recognize they are there. Because if we want our lover or partner to give us something they can’t give us, to fill an emotional part that we believe is missing, we’re setting ourselves up for failure. So you have to keep doing the internal work that shows you’ve healed old wounds so you’re not assuming someone else will do it for you. That may take longer than you anticipated. But it’s necessary for any relationship’s success.
And usually, God sprinkles people in your path to help you along, to give you advice, to smack some sense into you, if you’re getting off course.
Because here’s the other thing that we often forget. There is so much love. There is so much to give. And a confident person who has done their soul-searching, who has done their inner work, knows what they have and what they don’t have. And they also know how to fill their own cup when it’s empty. A confident, mature person recognizes that a relationship, while nice, is not the center of the world. It deserves investment and time, but other things do, too. Because there is no guarantee of forever. There’s just not. And if you tell yourself that, you’re living a lie.
So what the hell am I trying to say? I kind of forget.
Oh, the people who I’ve met who call themselves “givers,” who talk about how much they share and give, are usually holding back in a whole other, much bigger way. They are often narrow-minded thinkers, focusing so much on what they did, or what they gave, or what didn’t work out, than they are open to the callings of the soul and the universe and opportunities to grow and heal. They don’t know how to accept an amazing gift when it’s looking them in the eye, because they have convinced themselves they always know what that gift is going to look like. Living a full life involves a large degree of humility about how much you can’t do, and how much you can’t know. And so it helps you to see. It helps you recognize beauty and surprise when it shows up in front of you. And that’s what living in the present moment is all about, instead of going through life blind.
And humility, or generosity of spirit, means you let people in. That’s the greatest giving of all, if you want to know the truth.
A lot of people don’t want to know that.