“Even in the common affairs of life, in love, friendship, and marriage, how little security have we when we trust our happiness in the hands of others!” ~ William Hazlitt (1821)
I suffered in a previous relationship. From the start, the woman I was dating was clear and concise in her position and objectives.
But I had a desire—a fervent demand—that her position parallel mine. I pushed, pulled, seduced, implored, manipulated, cajoled, whined and debated.
I made a valiant effort to persuade her to become someone she didn’t want to be. It was exhausting for both of us.
Luckily, she was strong enough to resist my oppressive, overbearing tyranny. I had become so driven and exhausted by my desires, expectations and demands that I would exhibit all of the signs of shock whenever I pulled into her driveway.
My suffering was a result of the reality not meeting my demand. I created all of my suffering—every dramatic, soul-sucking bit of it.
That relationship felt intimate because I was so invested in it. The emotional turmoil I created gave me a false sense of intimacy. I was energized by the drama I fabricated. I confused that swirling pool of emotion with intimacy.
I spent so much energy on the distractions of my demands and expectations that there wasn’t much of me left over to be present or intimate.
My demands and expectations were born from fear; yet true intimacy comes from a place of strength.
Here’s the idea: to be intimate, first, we need to be present. To be present, we must reduce distraction.
Distractions indicate that I am giving something that is “out of the moment” energy (like my demands and expectations). Demands and expectations all deal with making some future moment “safer.” If I am focusing on the future, I am not in the present. If I am spending energy on distractions, I have less energy available.
To the degree that I am not present, I am weakened.
After that relationship’s smoldering death, I began to challenge the veracity of my fears, reduce my expectations and release my demands.
I am more “Me” when I let things “Be.”
In my subsequent relationship, I got better at letting things be. I began to notice when a demand would arise. There was a feeling to it and I began to associate that feeling with the expectation.
Instead of trying to coerce, seduce or manipulate my partner into a different action, I began to question what fear was behind my demand. As an added benefit, when I was investigating my demand, I was no longer trying to control or manipulate.
What my investigations uncovered was that my demands and expectations were all born from some fear that I was holding on to. When I began questioning the roots of those fears, I discovered they were all projections about some “fictional future.” My fear wasn’t about what was happening right now, they were all about what might happen next.
I was creating the fear, which created the demand, which distracted me from the present.
When I examined why I might not want to be present I found the fear of intimacy or more specifically, successful intimacy. If I was fearlessly present, there would be nothing holding me back from being as intimate as possible.
I was manufacturing fear as a way to guarantee failure or at least moderate my intimacy. As I dismantled my fears, they dissipated. As they dissipated, I was able to be more intimate to a greater degree for a longer period of time.
I have come to realize I am in complete control of how intimate I am. It has nothing to do with anyone else. There is no one to blame. If I can be myself and allow others to be themselves then there will be intimacy.
I now understand that intimacy is a result of supreme self-confidence and universal tolerance.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard