Wednesday, March 21, 2007

In a Romantic, Adult Loving Relationship, Don’t Neglect or Sacrifice Yourself

It is my contention that there are three things that we pay attention to when we are involved in a romantic, adult loving relationship: (1) ourselves; (2) the other person; and (3) our relationship. In my recently released contemporary novel, Fear of Feeling Loved, a large part of her reason for divorcing her ex-husband was that she was the one always attending to their relationship and in order for him to be loving toward her she had to sacrifice herself. And as I say in the one self-help companion books I currently am writing, My Adult Loving Relationships, paying attention to ourselves while in a romantic, loving relationship is critical.

I am not suggesting, however, that we should be narcissistically involved in ourselves to the extent that we are unaware of the other person or our relationship with him or her. When I talk with my clients, I frequently ask them if they have ever been in an airplane. I remind them that what typically occurs is that while the plane is taxiing out to the runway the flight attendant stands up front and gives specific instructions regarding what to do incase of an emergency. The flight attendant says, “Should an unexpected reduction in oxygen occur in the cabin, oxygen masks will come down from the ceiling.” The attendant also tells us that if we are traveling with a small child, we are to put our own mask on first. There are many reasons for this – primarily, we must make sure that we are able to take care of the child. In the adult loving relationships in which I have been involved, I have frequently wondered: If she is not able to attend to and take care of herself, how could she possibly attend to and take care of me and our relationship?

In a romantic, adult loving relationship, the most important thing that you offer to the other person is yourself. I would assume that if you love the other person you would want to give him or her things that are good, things that are the best that they could be. Therefore, if the most important thing you offer the other person is yourself, it intuitively would make sense that you would want to be the best that you could be. The bottom line is that when you are in the process of attending to various, important aspects and considerations of a romantic, adult loving relationship, it is important make sure to always be aware of yourself.

Question: Is or has this ever been an issue for you when in a romantic, adult loving relationship?



Anonymous said...

I consider myself lucky in that I am married to a woman who loves me for who I am. However, prior to her, I had a few girlfriends that tried to chenge me or that I felt I needed to change for. Obviously (and luckily) those reationships did not last. I've noticed this problem with a few friends of mine as well. You can tell when people have to act differently when they are around certain people. They may bite their tongue when a joke comes to mind, drink merlot instead of a draft beer, or say that they would rather go to an outlet mall than watch the USC/Notre Dame (or, in my case, Florida State/Florida) game. I admit there are times when I do things or act differently just to appease my wife and she does the same for me as well. But these are rare ocassions and she and I know each other so well that we can tell when these times occur. I think it is all about setting the right expectations up front. If you are true to yourself in the beginning of a relationship, then youy partnet knows what he/she is getting into. As a result, they should love you for who you are and you should not have to change at all.

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hello again Maconole,
Thank you for your insightful comments and sharing – yes, you are a lucky man!
Agreeing to each others’ realities indeed is important. However, I always have believed that “The only constant in life is change.” To wit, it sounds like you and your wife have learned to change with each other’s change(s). Also, if you and each other are changing in similar directions (versus in opposite directions) and at similar paces, accommodating each other’s change(s) are easier.
Now one last personal comment… I’ll be cheering with you unless the Seminoles play the University of Georgia.
Thanks again!

Bailey Stewart said...

Not in a romantic one, but this also can apply to friendships in general. I've dropped friends because I was the only one "attending" to the friendship in order to keep the friend.

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hi Bailey,
And I bet you're not the only one who has done that (and when that happens to me with a friend, I feel "taken for granted" and "unappreciated"). Maybe we are feeling that with a good friend it is important to know that the friendship is as important to them as it is to us.
Great to hear form you,

Kelly (Lynn) Parra said...

I believe in giving on both sides of a relationship, otherwise, I can't see the relationship being happy. :)

Dr. Bill Emener said...

HI Kelly,
No question... if both individuals do not compromise and as you say "give" the relationship is destined to be troubled.
Thanks for stopping by,