“Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.” David Augsburger
I have learned a few things in my dating life that I thought I would write down for the young-ins.
First thing is, it takes a few dates to get to know someone. In my estimation, it takes about 5 dates to figure out if a person is the kind of person you want to spend a good amount of time with. Once that is established, it’s important to find out what the other person needs, if you haven’t already. This can be an awkward discussion, but it is critical to have this talk in the beginning. Go ahead and ask them: “What kind of relationship are you looking for right now?”
Most people don’t want to ask this question because they are afraid of what the answer might be. Fear ruins everything.
You can’t love someone unless you know what they need. Period. You can’t truthfully say that you love a person, in the sense that you can take care of them, unless you know what that means for them. You might have strong feelings for them, they might make you deliriously happy, but if you don’t know what they need or want, you can’t really love them, and you are not ready for any kind of partnership, much less a commitment.
Having said that, let’s move on to cheating. This word has to be my least favorite relationship word. It implies that someone has set a black and white boundary line and the other partner has crossed it intentionally. What an awful thing this is. I love the way I heard it put on Dr. Phil a few years back: A yogi was asked what he would do if he came home and discovered his wife in his bed with another man. He answered, “I would tell them that when they are finished, to please come downstairs, I will make a pot of tea, and we’ll all talk about it.” Why would he do this? Because he wants information. And getting furious will not get him information. Violently injuring someone will not get him information.
Someone who is a victim of cheating will always be a victim as long as they never sit down and have this discussion. A cycle cannot be broken unless one has information needed in order to change it. What could one possibly learn from having a discussion about an infidelity? Most people are too afraid to talk about it, assuming that it will reveal that the partner doesn’t really care about them, doesn’t find them attractive, that they will lose the relationship they have invested so much time and security in, etc. It is a fear of loss that prevents people from talking about their needs generally. But what is there to lose except the mystery around the situation? You cannot solve problems in a void, but with information, you can move from being a victim to being a problem-solver.
And not talking about your needs/problems only perpetuates them and makes them harder to solve. There is a saying that if you are not moving forward up a hill, you are moving backward. That is, by not addressing the shortcomings in your relationship, you think you are really just keeping yourself in a static comfort/safety zone, but actually your relationship is sliding backward. Best to talk things out before you hit rock bottom and have to suffer enormous amounts of stress.
Love means understanding what the other person needs, even if that means hearing that what the other person needs right now is NOT YOU. If you can accept that, that is true love.