“The opposite of loneliness is not togetherness. It’s intimacy.“ Richard Bach
Your sweetheart can’t draw away from you again. Not after you had that heart to heart conversation about it. Yet, this is exactly what’s happening right now. In front of your very eyes.
You’ve just started talking when that nasty phone beeped. The-love-of-your-life, who told you a thousand times that you’re more important than anything else in the world, immediately stopped listening to you. Now your supposed-to-be-lover is completely ignoring you, absorbed in the beloved mobile.
But what good is a lover who never listens, anyway?
One who just doesn’t care.
Really, you’ve had enough of being the only one who cares. The only one who makes an effort. And does your partner even appreciate everything you’re doing? No. Not at all. The pretender claims to be the one who does everything, and keeps shouting at you and criticizing you! How unfair is that?
That’s not the relationship you wanted. Why do you always end up with these egoists? Don’t you deserve a normal lover, for a change?
Yes. You do.
Why Don’t We See Each Other?
Finding an appreciative devoted life-partner may be difficult, though, concerning the strong probability you’re not one, either. Hardly any of us are. And it’s not our fault, too. At least most of it isn’t.
Apart from our charming self-centered human nature, the consumer society has a lot to do with our egocentric attitude. Our problematic use-and-throw habit, regarding a million objects through any westerner’s life, is bound to affect our attitude towards other people too. And sure as hell, it does.
Over time and consumption, we tend to treat people in general, and our romantic partners in particular, the way we treat products. Since the early stages of considering our dates, to the advanced ones of sharing our lives, we tend to take these romantic steps:
- Appraise their description and decide whether to examine them in person.
- Survey their package.
- Go over our desired features list and check their boxes.
- Make a quick conclusion concerning their usability.
- Try them, while comparing with the alternatives.
- Make a decision and a commitment. Then see the better options not taken.
- Use them whenever it’s convenient, and ignore them when it’s not.
- Replace them when we find a flaw, when their serviceableness is reduced, or when a new version shows up.
Though all of us, modern people, use this attitude on some level, no one is modern enough to want to be treated that way, as a commodity on a production line. Everyone wants to be treated as an exceptional one-of-a-kind creation, which we actually are. This gap of product / person, held by the two sides, is not a good base for a loving relationship.
It’s even not a good way of choosing a partner. Unsurprisingly, when it comes to relationships, our developed consuming skills don’t work. People are too complicated to be summed up in a checklist. Furthermore, we’re too complicated to even know how to make a checklist of what we really need.
Besides, we all have flaws. Sometimes they turn out to be our best merits. When my prodigal spouse, for instance, spends a lot of money on himself, he’s very irritating. When he spends a lot on me, on the other hand, he’s just fabulous.
The main problem with treating people like products, however, is losing what it is all about: connection. Unlike purchasing, connection requires going deep. It requires openness. It requires trust. It requires time.
Unfortunately, these investments of time, involvement and trust are exactly what we, the justly-suspicious consumers, learned to fear.
Therefore, connection, and love, require courage.
Indeed, not easy.
Why Should We See Each Other?
Then again, while purchasing leaves you as lonely and hollow as you were in the first place, a connection makes you loved and significant.
So it’s probably worth the effort.
Yet, to establish a meaningful connection, we have to change the attitude. We have to treat our partners as subjects, equal feeling persons, and not as usable objects which exist only for our convenience.
Instead of (unconsciously) expecting the other to serve us, we better recognize what we both need, and try together to find satisfactory solutions.
Instead of trying unsuccessfully to teach our partners to be us, we better let both of us be the different extraordinary people we are.
Instead of assuming, we better converse, ask, and (arduously) listen.
A couple’s way is never an easy one. It includes lots of clashes and conversations, and a lot of sweat (rarely for sexy reasons). Yet, with curiosity and respect, it can teach us much about ourselves and about life. As the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard said, “Marriage is, and will always be, the most important journey of discovery that a man could ever do.”
How Can We Start Seeing Each Other?
When we treat our partners as persons and not as products, and expect the same treats, it can turn our relationship upside down.
Right from the frightening beginning of dating, and up to our happily ever after, our mindset is much more cheerful. We no longer check candidates to the job of our life-partners, using a list of specific requirements. Instead, we savor the opportunity to have meaningful conversations with a variety of one-of-a-kind persons.
We feel lucky when we:
- Seize the opportunity to converse with fascinating possible dates. (A startling side result to my engrossed listening was becoming everybody’s dream-girl. Just saying.)
- Do something fun together while enjoying the uniqueness of our essentially-magnificent dates.
- Feel whether and how we want to enjoy the others’ company again, and timidly communicate our desires.
- Have various adventures while learning to know each other deeply.
- Let our heart tell us whether to be lovers, trying not to confuse it with higher and lower organs’ arguments.
- Communicate our preferences and needs day by day, improving our lives together. (Obviously, there’s never enough time for the essential conversations, so we try our best, and pray.)
- Deepen our understanding and love, endlessly.
Only when we remember that, surprisingly, the other is not there to fulfill our needs but to share our adventurous path with us, we can both be happier.
Let’s See Each Other
The Dalai Lama says that “People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason why the world is in chaos is because things are being loved and people are being used.”
Regarding your partner as a respected equal can make you not only better lovers, but also soul mates. Communicating and making decisions together can make your love eternal. (A heavenly outcome which requires nothing but plenty of hard work.)
A better connection will affect not only the two of you. The more people will listen to each other, the more they will stop objectifying and abusing others, and our entire society will be a better place to live in. Respect and being more human towards the whole planet can help us all, too.
So take the first step towards love.
By looking for solutions together.
One question at a time.