I know a person, who considers himself to be a very generous lover. He got valid reasons for it too. I mean, he treats his better half as the center of his universe hence his life revolves around her. Her whims and fancies decide his mood at any particular time.
He works very hard though, complying to her every demand with amplified response (always!). Ready to go out of the line for her (always!). Puts her on the top of his to-do list (pun intended) even if it means subjugating his own desires. When asked about it, he wearily replies:
“It is difficult at times for me, but if it is for her, I will do whatever it takes.”
I think you know him too;
His name is Bill.**
Please, don’t be like Bill!**
Evil marginal utility
I have a younger sister, who is very fond of chocolate cookies. I once bought an entire jumbo box filled with exotic choco chip cookies for her. She was further elated when I left that box at her disposal.
6 days later, we were serving our house guests those same cookies because my sister refused to eat anymore.
This was not so surprising (it was for my sister!) as we see it all the time. The amount of satisfaction that you derive from an additional unit of good keeps on diminishing. This is called Law of diminishing marginal utility. So when she ate those cookies all at once, she reached a point where that cookie was no longer ‘a chocolaty delight’.
If we consider a lot of contemporary relationships, we can spot a very similar pattern over there too. Now I am not talking about all of them but primarily about those which are based on unilateral agreements. Where one person is the source and other acts as a sink (Of course, there are times when the sink becomes a giver but opposed to an ideal relation, it is far away from 50%).
When such relation is forged on whatever foundation, it will simply be unsustainable. It is not always about how much can you give, it is equally about how much the other person can receive or whether they want to acquire the same good that you are offering.
For instance, you were maybe able to attract someone with your ‘caring attitude’. You know, the cliched chivalrous gestures popularised by contemporary cinema and print media. Basically, if your idea of a perfect relationship was to make them feel special and dot them with immense love and affection, you are in for an unpleasant surprise.
This approach would have worked very well initially, but once the honeymoon period is over (when put bluntly, their appetite for your cheesy and cliched buffoonery) the ‘spark’ would be lost.
You will start bumping into “It is not the same anymore” kind of phrases often and will not be able to figure out what exactly is not the same. After all, you are trying harder than ever before and your world is still revolving around them, probably with twice the angular velocity now!
Basically, the rush of novelty is not the same anymore.
If offering love and affection is your only strong suit. It is not their fault entirely that they began to drift. You need to understand that although love and affection form the basic fabric of relationships, you need to constantly upgrade the tapestry on it, otherwise it becomes old and dull.
Maybe at this point, they do appreciate the kind of affection you provide. But they never asked you to increase it to such an enormous amount that your life and goals take a hit. It is you who did it constantly without any conscious thought.
It is you who forgot “WE” of relationships and how it was supposed to be a bilateral agreement.
Drawing some lines
When it comes to gold, malleability is a thing. But when they exclaimed about ‘the heart of gold’ that you possess, they weren’t talking literally.
You don’t want to be so malleable that your internal belief system and your personal boundaries can be changed beyond recognition.
I am not advocating you to be an uncooperative stubborn freak but to be cognizant of where the boundaries are and no matter what, you are not willing to compromise certain things in any relationship. You have to be really clear and vocal about these things. Your partner is not omniscient so don’t assume otherwise. Now when you have a core belief that you are not willing to dismantle, certain key changes start happening to your relationship.
Firstly, you will feel a lot relaxed because if your partner is willing to accept you with your personal dogma, it is a sign that they are respectful towards your individuality. You no longer have to put yourself down to the point where it starts hurting.
Secondly, you will be able to isolate love with the rest of your life. Being mindful about the fact that love is just a part (maybe very important) in a grand scheme of things called life, will empower you. It will help you to get a hold of your life and chart your own quest towards your dreams and aspirations. You will realize that although your partner makes life beautiful and accounts for the exciting seasoning, your life devoid of your partner still has a lot of substance. Being aware of this separation will help you to maintain a balance and before you will realize, you will have a lot to offer other than just ‘love and affection’ not just to your partner but even to yourself.
Loving yourself is not loving less
A very important point to keep in mind here is not to consider love as a limited resource. You don’t have to curtail your love towards anybody else to give it to yourself. Rather you will radiate more of it if you consider your own self with respect and esteem. Counterintuitively, it will make you a better lover because now your sense of satisfaction is not purely governed by the other person. It is dependent substantially on your accountability towards your own life and your decisions to steer it around. Consequently, you will be happier and more capable of brightening up people around you.
The basic human tendency that is hardwired in the human genome is survival and it dictates that people ought to think about the self. If they are not doing it for themselves then why will anyone else? It would be so unnatural.
And love should be everything but unnatural.
The simple idea is that even though you respect the other person and continue loving them, you also show them where the boundaries are.
And it doesn’t make you a self-absorbed person.
Whoever says it does, has a middle name called ‘Bill.
Don’t listen to Bill!