I learned another lesson in relationships today.
Unexpectedly as usually is the way with these things.
It occurred to me as I swept the flour off the dough-break machine at the shop that part of the "problem" with most partnered relationships is that women...I am one you know, so I sort have an insiders view on this more or less...have this incredible drive for attachment to their chosen mate.
I had written some time ago about the difference between belonging and ownership in relationships and that I believe is still more or less true for me. There is this new dimension though that surfaced today that really struck me as to why we struggle so much in our relationship with our beloved partners.
I tend to believe that men are biologically not monogamous by nature. I think men (and perhaps some women too maybe although the reasons maybe slightly different) struggle with commitment and fidelity over the course of their lives, and particularly attachment because of a biological "need" to spread their genes as far and as widely as possible. This may sound like I reduce the male of our human species to a mere animal... I guess that might be true; it is a lot more complicated than that of course. It is rare to find the emotional/spiritual dimension in the animal world so there is that to add to this human mix too.
Men are quite capable of giving themselves completely and totally to a beloved partner! There is no question here that men can't be committed and compassionately dedicated life-long lovers of one partner. However, I do believe that this is entirely the result of cultural and social conditioning rather than anything anthropological. (gosh! I can hear all the christians screaming "Heretic!" from here! *shudder*).
Women, on the other hand, I believe, are very much wired to be deeply attached to their chosen mate. We do that for the survival of our young. A secure mother is a mother who is able to nurture her children freely without duress and hardship ensuring those children survive to adulthood.
The difficulties between these two primary forces is that women tend to learn strategies early to "trap" men into being attached to them in order to achieve that security. We learn to manipulate, connive, convince, persue and cajol our intended life-partners through usually emotional methods so they cohere to us, (and us alone). Consequently, we cannot trust these relationships. I think we tend not to trust love when it comes to us and feel a deep sense of personal insecurity in our relationships because we cannot believe we are loved for ourselves. We assume instinctively that the love shown toward us is not genuine - that it has been co-erced.
When love is co-erced it is a poor substitute for security and contentment in relationship. When a woman manipulates a man through her emotions and actions, how can she trust that he truly loves her? We cannot build a secure foundation of love when we build on the sandy soil of coercion.
Being committed to our partner does not mean that we demand love or commitment to be given to us! Instead, we offer love and commitment of our own free will to them. We must learn to love our beloved in a way that does not seek to entrap or ensnare them through manipulative means; we need a deep personal sense of CONTENTMENT within ourselves in order to love another exactly as they are IN THIS MOMENT.
This requires a concious choice to be content with ourselves first and foremost. When women learn to be content with themselves and accept their life, their body, their spirit, their intelligence, their worth and their situation as it is, they then will find the confidence to trust they are loved and lovable and do not NEED to find emotional security from any other source (God notwithstanding of course - but he's different to most blokes :)).
When we do not seek our innate need for emotional and physical security by manipulating men (or other women for that matter) to commit to us, we suddenly - and perhaps ironically, become more attractive to men and more likely to win their trust and commitment. In other words, when men do not feel smothered or trapped by a relationship with a woman; when they feel free - they tend to settle down and enjoy loving that woman for a good long time.
So now I'm on a very deeply personal journey of self-discovery. I'm learning how to be content within and that is harder to do than to write. It looks so simple on the screen but in actual fact it's hard for me - as a woman - to be content. I always want proof! I want more! I want to know! I want to believe but cannot, deep in my heart of hearts, that I am loved just as I am for me!
You see, I think I never really learned inner confidence from the beginning of my life, that I am lovable without having to use my physique or my emotional gaming skills. A lot of that is part my anthropological heritage, part my upbringing too.
However, a big part of it is also my spiritual longing to BELONG to someone and TRUST that they do actually love me.
To be totally confident that you can be loved completely, just as you are, is a treasure of immeasurable value.
I want that kind of confidence.