What might they be, I pondered. And more importantly, if you knew what they were and you and your beloved could agree on them, would that give your relationship a higher chance of flourishing?
I must admit, I do love lists. Especially as I get older. You want to get something done? Write a list and then start checking off those suckers. Get it done item by item! Go Team!
So what could be the optimal list for love? Amorous love.
Naturally I went to my panel (Facebook). What came back was this: Attraction. Love. Tolerance. Forgiveness. Appreciation. Cooperation. Trust. Respect. Friendship. Intimacy. Transparency. Accountability. Compatibility. Connection. Honesty. Humour. Financial independence and the ability to compromise.
Wow. That’s a lot of list. But yes, thought I … those are all good. I mean, I’m not really sure about the “financial independence” one if that means independence from each other. Pretty sure my parents had all their finances intertwined. But what do I know? Maybe keeping your loot to yourself is a prudent way to go? Certainly it’s the safest way if you think you might break up down the road. Not sure that planning for your relationship to fail will aid its success but hey, look at all those prenups! I decided to google “how many marriages with a prenup end in divorce”?
I could not find an answer.
Anyhoo … back to my query.
Let’s just accept that any long-term romantic relationship requires attraction and love. Otherwise we’re talking friendship. For these purposes we can remove those from the equation.
But what about the rest?
An abundance of words and those words have many definitions. Mine could be significantly different from yours. Or my partner’s. So how can I make this more succinct?
I have decided to begin with “I need … “
Pretty self-centred, right, bey hey, it is my blog. And it turns out that just maybe, what I need is exactly what YOU were saying. Just in full sentences.
- I need to be seen.
If you read my recent blog about what leads a person to infidelity, you will already know that to me, being SEEN is huge. My dog loves me. My son loves me. I need my lover to SEE me. To see and acknowledge the unique and singular entity that I am and to then create a relationship with that person. This requires an enormous amount of empathy. We must truly try to walk a mile in our mate’s shoes to know their journey and appreciate the blisters on their figurative feet. We must try to see their struggles and read their roadmap long before they do because that is our job as PARTNER. We must listen and learn and look and learn some more, because the “seeing” never ends. When seeing ends, complacency begins. And when complacency begins … (go read that other blog).
- I need to feel safe.
This is where words like trust, honesty, transparency, accountability and even respect come into play. Because in order to feel safe all of the above must constantly be in action. All of the above. How can any relationship flourish without trust? If you don’t believe that your lover is honest, how can you trust? If transparency is not 100%, how can you trust that your lover is honest? If your partner is not accountable for any and all acts that leave you suspect, how can you ever feel at ease? And if one person needs the other to respect THEM (but mostly respect their privacy) is there truly any respect at all? Doesn’t respect in a romantic relationship come down to respecting the union above the individuals?
When we are children, we trust that our parents will keep us safe. When we are adults more of that duty becomes self-imposed. The absolute luxury of someone ELSE allowing you to feel safe (physically and emotionally) cannot be overstated. This is the true richness of a strong romantic bond. I know safety doesn’t sound romantic. But it is.
- I need to feel desired.
Oh yeah … here we have the largest distinction between friendship and romance. It’s not enough that you see me and make me feel safe. I have several girlfriends who achieve that regularly. My romantic partner must desire me. Not only must he desire me, he must show that desire, speak that desire and act on that desire. Because if he doesn’t, guess what? I feel like we’re buddies. The magnificent, mystical spiritual bridge between friendship and romance is DESIRE.
I do understand that many couples, as they age and their relationship settles, relegate desire to a long ago back-burner, flickering rarely if ever and tucked away like an aging photo album covered in dust. But I will tell you a tiny story about my ex-husband’s grandparents. They both lived into their 90s and, one night when we joined them for dinner, I saw him playfully pat her behind. With a wink. And she giggled. Like a teenager.
This is blessed intimacy at its pinnacle. Connection spanning decades. Hell, doing what you can with what you got! THIS is desire. The desire to show your beloved that you do indeed desire them, as a sensual, sexual, physical, carnal, libidinous, wanton consort.
In other words … you’re not just chums.
- I need to feel aligned.
“Love is not gazing adoringly into each other’s eyes. It is looking forward in the same direction.”
Many years ago I read a quote on a card that went something like that. Oh man, I thought it was brilliant! And it is. Not whole, but clever.
Love is gazing adoringly into each other’s eyes and THEN looking forward in the same direction.
You gotta have both (see #3). If not, you’re just pals planning a front-porch-rocking-chair future (and yes, I do have a few of those).
Still … being aligned as we face all of our tomorrows is paramount. It involves tolerance, compatibility, cooperation and the ability to compromise. Doing it together must be the prize. And IF you’re already counting your separate pennies in a separate bank account just in case your existence may one day separate from your beloved, or IF you feel your right to privacy supersedes the relationship’s requirement for transparency, or IF your partner no longer turns your crank … I’m gonna guess you are not aligned.
You are along for a ride. Not invested. Not looking forward. Together. You are looking inward. Toward #1.
- I need to feel attuned.
Attuned. In harmony. Heard. It’s like being SEEN … only with audio.
This one is all about communication, the #1 stalwart of ALL relationships. It involves EVERYTHING we have already discussed plus … humour. Oh good golly, there absolutely MUST be a sense of fun in a romantic relationship (because Holy Shit, it sure was FUN when it started!) to keep it on track. We must find a way to attune ourselves to daily merriment but more importantly daily, weekly and monthly attunement.
We must tune in to our partner’s frequency. Gage what’s going on … and why. Decide how and when we can help and how and when we should just lay back.
Perhaps for some couples this seems simple. For others – notsomuch. For many it is damn hard work.
For me I believe it is THE most important. It is very much a two-way street, with zigs and zags, detours and even roadblocks. Through all of it we must be willing to reset. And then attune.
So … there you have it. My overwrought, overthunk, over-anguished easy-to-follow guide to romantic bliss. Hey – why buy a self-help book when you have me?
In closing I will say this: I envy those of you who find romantic love/relationship easy. Simple. Automatic. The truth is none of you is reading this blog because you’re too damn busy being happy.
For the rest of us … well … I have no gospel truths. Just a few hard-won revelations. And if they help but one ……………………………………………….