Thursday, April 12, 2012
Shining the Light on One Relationship Challenge
I cannot tell you how many times I have heard about, been through and watched helplessly as others struggled with this one very significant aspect of a relationship…the various ways people demonstrate love. I write often about perspectives and prisons. The reason is that we create so many in all of the various places of our lives and as a result, we support the self-obscurity of the truth of a situation. We are all individuals. Everyone of us thinks, acts and reacts to life based on our own core set of ideals. So often in relationships and especially romantic ones we have this mistaken belief that if someone doesn’t perfectly and frequently demonstrate love in the way that we want and need it that the other person doesn’t care about us or love us. This is huge so please pay close attention. You have to have the ability to clearly discern the truth about this one from the judgment you might exhibit based on the prison you are trapping yourself within. For example, Sue (made up person) is an overtly demonstrative and affectionate person. Her partner Bob (another made up person) is not an overtly demonstrative and affectionate person. Sue shows that she loves Bob by always telling him the uplifting and complementary things that she wants to hear and may always touch his hand or shoulder while speaking and always reaches out to him when they are together. This is how Sue demonstrates love. Bob demonstrates love differently. Bob demonstrates his love for people by being a fixer of things, being there for people, listening and offering advice. Bob adores Sue and is always fixing things and just being there to listen to her speak and share her thoughts. Sue, over time, has begun to feel that Bob doesn’t really love her. She raises the issue in conversation stating that Bob is not demonstrative and she doesn’t feel like he even notices her. Bob, hearing this and knowing how much he does love Sue is offended and doesn’t understand how she could possibly feel that way – he’s there every day whenever she needs him, he’s always fixing things and always listening. They get locked into battle defending their positions and sadly, losing sight of what is really there.
For Sue, she either needs to understand that Bob demonstrates love differently than she does and that fact in no way minimizes how he feels about her or she needs to decide that she needs to find someone more like her. It is unfair of Sue to require Bob to become more like her and demonstrate love in the same way she does. For Bob, he either needs to understand what Sue is saying and agree to try to be a little more demonstrative if he can be or he needs to decide that he needs someone a little more like him. In Sue’s case, the man adores her and is there for her every day but she feels insecure about their relationship because he doesn’t demonstrate love the way that she does. The perception that someone does not care and love us just because they do not show love and affection the way that we do is untrue. We have to understand that everyone is different and that difference can be a beautiful thing. So many perfectly good relationships are thrown away on this issue and so many conflicts are ignorantly engaged in in the absence of understanding of how different people demonstrate love.
If we would take the time to understand how other people demonstrate love, we would feel less insecure about many of our relationships. You have to really know and understand yourself and your needs and you have to really be able to open yourself up fully to receiving unconditional love and understanding of your partner. If you can’t do this and you cannot understand and reconcile the differences in how you express yourself, you are locking yourself into a prison of conflict. Until one person becomes ready and willing to see the other person’s side of the equation and the willingness to accept another person unconditionally just the way they are, you are wasting your time and someone else’s and only you can figure out the real reasons behind why you would do that to you.
We make so many assumptions and judgments about other people based on how we are. That is so unfair and it really imprisons and tortures you. It also makes the lives of people around you very difficult to bear. I speak from experience here. I had a family member once that I went out on a steep financial limb for. I really loved this family member and just wanted to help. Because I am not an overtly demonstrative person and showed my love differently, I was accused of being an insensitive and unloving person. I’m not that and I know that. Over time, I began to see that this person demonstrated love in a certain way and would not believe that anyone could love her unless they demonstrated love to her only the way that she demonstrated love. This bred so much conflict for her in her life, with her partners and even with family members. I think that if she could only understand that people love differently and those differences do not mean they love her less, she could free herself from years of pain and anguish.
So, the next time you think your spouse or partner doesn’t love you because he doesn’t take out the trash or cook your favorite meal without being asked – think again. The next time you think the person you care about doesn’t care about you because they don’t call you like you call them, think again. Now, having said that we also have to be aware of what our needs are. We often want to make the other person bad so we can feel okay about complaining. Here is where understanding, unconditional love and acceptance comes in. You do not have to hurt and blame people for not being to you what you need. If someone cannot be what you really need, tell them so and send them away with love so you can find that person closer to being able to demonstrating what you need. There is no need to hurt others because your needs are not being met. State your needs, if they are still not met, stand up like a grown up and make a mature decision – accept the situation as it is with love and understanding or have the love and understanding to allow yourself to move on and find something else. There is so much unnecessary conflict where blame and attack, judgment and persecution run rampant. It is so unnecessary. If my partner were to tell me tomorrow that I am not meeting his need. I would be sad. I would do what I was capable of to improve but I know I can’t change the heart of me. If I cannot change enough to make him happy, I love him enough to let him go and pursue what would make him happy. I would not need to hate him nor hurt him for being who he is and needing what he needs. Conversely, if my partner cannot be what I need, I will raise my needs to him and trust that he will do what he can. If he can’t, I know I must either love and accept him for who he is or I have to be honest and let him know that my need is so important I must leave to pursue it somewhere else.
You’d be surprised at what you can learn about each other together with lots of understanding, effort, acceptance and unconditional love. We don’t have to make other people out to be villains for being who they are. We also cannot expect people to automatically know what we need. If you need something specific, ask for it. If you don’t ask and its not given, don’t punish your partner with conflict. Ask for what you want. If they are capable of providing it and consent to doing so, great! If they can’t do it or they won’t, love yourself enough to make the right decisions for you. There are so many other applications here. Give it some thought! Have a blissful day.
(c) 2012, Jaie Hart (photo, random internet find)