“Where is the tipping point between doing what I love to do and giving in an intimate relationship? I find it difficult to pay attention to both without feeling conflicted.”
Your question is a perfect example of living in a polarized world. Even in our most intimate and close places, there is a sense of division. The pull of “what I love to do” and “giving in an intimate relationship” exists for you here because of an imbalance.
We've grown up with ideas of “what I must do for others” as a duty and “what I must do to take care of myself” as a right. It is a skewed version of relationships that pits one against the other and forces compromise. In a very general sense, no one is happy when part of a compromise, because there is a perceived loss.
Here's how I've come to believe it actually works. Perhaps after considering these words, you'll happen upon your own “tipping point”.
When thoughts and feelings about more and less enter into the negotiations of close personal relationships, they are not about how much you are giving or not giving to and getting or not getting from the perceived “other”. These thoughts are reflections of self care.
In order to love another authentically in this physical realm, we must first love ourselves. This is not semantics. This is unconditional acceptance. This is not something you've been taught or shown by example.
We have been raised as if on a desert, and our thirst has never been quenched. We've looked to our elders, our friends, our lovers, our children and even to our God to satisfy our thirst for love. They could not. Oh, they gave what they could share. However they would not deplete their own cup, as that would have been suicide.
Consequently, it has never been enough. You've learned to hoard whatever it is you regard as self-love and you resent any “other” whom you imagine wants to take it away from you. Hence, the imbalance.
We have not learned to quench our own thirst – no one could show us as their cups were also mostly empty. A balanced approach to life, love and any intimate relationship you share occurs when you enter them carrying two things:
You must learn to love yourself in real time. This, as opposed to any perceived “right”, debt, job or duty. The things we do for each other are not love, they are things/actions. The feeling we embody while doing them is what is experienced as love or lack by both parties. Relationships expand and recede because of these unspoken expressions of emotion. There is no hiding them from each other.
A full cup is the only answer. Allowing, accepting, forgiving and honoring who you are today demands strength and a refusal to observe anything but love. There is no partitioning love. You and the “other” in this relationship you speak of are in fact One. You've perhaps been filling each others cups back and forth, over and over; leaving you both thirsty and wanting.
The answer falls to you. The “giving” you do will be filling your own cup. When this happens, you'll only want to to fill it again and again. Then you'll understand. It was always about you.
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