Creating lasting relationships seems to challenge many people these days, while they are just as adamant as ever that they want to be in one. A committed partnership still seems to be the goal. Many people have written about the changing face of marriage and family. We are seeing people marry later in life than before, wait longer to have children, co-habitat more often and for longer before marriage…etc. Yes, I see this happening too, but I do not want to analyze it as a phenomenon for fun, I want to analyze this trend so I can improve my chances of finding someone who wants to get married and have children about the same time I do in life.
Since I have recently created a new online dating profile, I have had the opportunity to read the descriptions of what single men want in their own words. What a fascinating body of knowledge. To research this would be incredibly interesting! Now, before I continue, I want to acknowledge that I am aware of research that states you cannot determine your compatibility with accuracy based on just reading through online profiles of potential matches. However, I do believe that there are some characteristics that will sway my decision in the direction of not wanting to meet them. I am looking for a partner who wants to be as dedicated to our relationship as I am, desiring a relationship for the same reasons.
At this point in my life, I have realized I am ready and willing to be in a committed relationship, one that I hope could last for life. This has been something I have always wanted for myself, but it was not until maybe two years ago, that I knew I was ready for it. And even then, I did not fully recognize that my partner has to also be truly ready for that as well. This seems incredibly ignorant of me, but no one has talked me through relationships in a way that addresses all these interesting facets.
The advice I have always gotten about love, has always seemed a bit superficial or approximate…never truly on its mark. For example, I have been warned to look out for red-flags, but somehow never received my list of what they all are; I have been warned that the partner who cares the least has the most power, while being encouraged to be vulnerable, to love with my whole heart, but never told that power has no place in a true relationship. Thankfully, I have heard enough advice, enough contradictions, and had my heart broken plenty, so I do not need advice from outside. I have all of the necessary knowledge inside myself.
Some of that previous advice was about how to avoid co-dependency (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codependency), a big, awful, scary term meaning the state of a relationship where people are not together for love but because their happiness depends on fulfilling the needs of the other or of controlling the other. It is love gone twisted! My last relationship was beginning to take on some co-dependent tendencies…mainly on my part, and I can see how it happens, even to the best of us.
A partnership is about being “co-______”…so if the blank is not dependent, than what is it? “Co-independent?” That sounds pretty nice, but it is not the whole picture either. “Co-creators?” Hmmm…that isn’t awful, but it is more than too. What do you think about the terms, “co-dedicated?” I am liking that one!
After a few failed relationships where I felt like the least powerful, because I cared the most…I started thinking I was asking too much of my partner to love me as much as I loved him. When you are being told to protect yourself because you wear your huge heart on your sleeve, what are you actually being told to do? I just heard, “don’t love so much,” “don’t show him you are that interested.” My reaction: I lowered my standards, giving more people the chance to love me, while I kept loving as hard, as deep as I had done before.
This is not the answer either though. While I kept loving the men in my life with as much enthusiasm as always, I had stopped loving myself enough. Lowering one’s standards is basically admitting you are not deserving of what you want…it is basically self-harm. And hence we come to a state where I am off balance, not grounded in self-love, so it is easy to tip over into co-dependency, where you derive happiness from the other, from the act of loving them, but not from yourself or really from your partner either.
My intention was pure…I wanted to commit myself to a life of love and partnership. My understanding of how to achieve this was been misguided. First, self-love should be maintained and cultivated so one can come to another individual grounded and balanced. There is a sense of stillness and calm that I feel when I describe this sense of being. When you are in a state of still connection with your inner Self…you can then recognize the same sense of self-awareness in another. These are the partners to seek out for a relationship where co-dedication can truly occur.
Past advice has hinted at this, but never sunk home for me. I have been told many times to make sure I can give myself what I need rather than seeking it from others. This has seemed deliberately cryptic! My Mind could not wrap itself around this. Now that I am coming to this truth on my own, I simultaneously marvel at how simple it seems now while also acknowledging that I could not have been convinced to understand this earlier. Perhaps there is a way to address this disconnect in understanding the advice given on love. Somehow all the advice is not helping people truly grasp the concepts until they come to it on their own anyway.
It feels wonderful to finally understand what a relationship should look like, on my part and my partners. My standards have risen once more.
This feels like the tipping point; I was like so many others, all desiring love and relationships, but being so very ignorant of all that it entails….until now. I now see that both people must put in their equal share…of love and dedication, of resources, of time. I am now ready for an equal relationship The profiles I have been reading online often can indicate when someone has also reached this point. They have tipped from being boys who want some girl to love them into men who want to love a woman who loves them.
Maintaining this balanced partnership means living on another tipping point. Relationships must be actively participated in to keep the balance. When one partner starts to refuse to do her share or the other offers to do more than he is required, the balance can tip from co-dedicated to co-dependent. I am beginning to see that by my willingness to love so much and do so much, I forced my partners into a co-dependent role. I took away their opportunity to be equally dedicated. What a humbling epiphany!
Self-love can help us all stay grounded, allowing balance and stillness into our relationships.