Friday, February 12, 2010

Is Real Love About Compromise?


In my first marriage, I was pretty certain that if you loved someone you needed to be willing to make compromises. Well, I compromised myself right out of the relationship.

Here is what compromise translated to for me: “I hear you telling me what you desire, and because I love you, I’m willing to give up my desires so that you can have what you want. After we make sure your desires are met, we can focus on mine.” Only, we never seemed to get around to mine, at least not with the same fervor we addressed his.

Does this sound familiar? I bet I’m not the only one that has done this. And you know what? It wasn’t his fault. I had just bought into the notion that love requires compromise, or another way of saying it is—sacrifice.

A number of relationships later, I have a new view about “real love.” There are times when compromise and sacrifice are appropriate, and it is best if I know what is reasonable and unreasonable for me. In other words, I’m no longer willing to sell my soul to support someone else’s purpose and desires while abandoning mine.

On a telephone date early in the relationship, a friend of mine recently told me, her friend asked her a significant question. He asked her what a deal breaker would be for her in regard to relationship. When she told him, they respectfully ended any further pursuit of a more intimate relationship.

She thought that was a brilliant question, and so do I. Do you know what a deal breaker would be for you—both in terms of the other person’s habits and beliefs, and also your own? Do you know what qualities of interaction simply must exist for you to be happy?

For example, what do these qualities look like and feel like to you in a meaningful relationship: 1) respect; 2) being heard; 3) feeling understood or 4) being appreciated. You can love someone to pieces and know they love you, and not be able to sustain a relationship because you don’t feel respected, heard, understood or appreciated.

Have you developed the kind of communication skills that support you in being able to transform negative feelings that come up in relationship into opportunities for greater respect, understanding and appreciation?

Have you generated so much love for yourself that your world reflects ongoing experiences of respect, being heard, feeling understood and being appreciated with all kinds of people, including a significant-other? If not, this is the ground to lay. As you may already know, the law of attraction applies to relationship. If you want to be respected, you must respect yourself so that you will attract people that reflect this quality in your life.

In order to attract it, you need to know what it feels like and looks like in your world. You need to recognize when it is not happening. You especially need to acknowledge when it is not happening consistently with someone, so that you transform the energy within you. Just living with it in order to continue to be in relationship usually ends up in a lot of emotional pain and difficult separations.

True loving relationships do not come from extensive compromising. They come out of your deep and abiding love for you. They are the external reflection of your internal world. The relationship that counts is the one between you and the Divine.

When you drink from the cup of Divine love, and you drink from it daily—several times a day, here is what will happen. You will have fewer problems because you won’t see challenges as problems. You will see opportunities to drink more deeply—to love more than you have ever loved before.

You will care equally about others in measure for the depth of care you have for yourself. You will think less in terms of either/or and look for ways to ensure everyone’s needs and desires are met, creatively and lovingly—including your own. You will judge yourself and others less often and compliment more frequently. You will not be inclined to sell your soul in the name of compassion, but rather hold everyone in compassion until solutions show themselves.

You will laugh more often and from deep in your belly. You will hear yourself singing and feel yourself dancing. You will relish every chance to play. Life will be an adventure and you will cherish the playmates that want to join you. You will look in the mirror to admire your smile. You will see not only your perceived imperfections, but you will see your perfection as well. Your cup of love will overflow and you will not be able to help yourself from sharing the outpouring of your love.

Consider letting go of compromise and instead drink in love. Then imagine the kind of relationships your love will draw to you.

John Brown of Rooms for Peace shared with us this inspiring poetry by Sufi poet, Hafiz—“I Know the Way You Can Get” (Drink of Love).