Defining a good relationship (Part 2)

I was a bundle of nerves, trying to time it just right, trying to avoid the hot brunette in the cafeteria. The one who made me anxious for no other reason than that she had, on the surface, fit most criteria of my ideal woman.

However, I couldn’t talk with her. I just couldn’t. Her being unapproachable was not helping her get to know me at all. Not much of a foundation of a good relationship.

This was surprising to me. I had already felt transformed into a calmer being after I had begun learning meditation the previous summer to clear my angst-ridden head. I had confronted my assumptions about the world, other people and myself. My easy-going attitude had shifted, grounded in confidence rather than in defeat.

But I still had a lot to learn. I was still frustrated. So a year ago, I asked for help. As I mentioned in Part 1, Facebook friends offered their definition of what defines a good relationship.

Rather than replying publicly, Allyson Fauver sent me a private message. I had met her a number of times at dances and related events in the regional Argentine tango scene. She wrote she was in the middle of a “relationship sabbatical,” during which she pondered the same question I had asked.

And she delivered the most awe-inspiring advice I had received.

“One of the rewards” of the sabbatical “has been clarifying for myself my thoughts on what makes a good relationship — romantic, or otherwise — with friends, family, co-workers, the guy/girl at the check-out counter in the store. Input on this has come from many places, and here is what I have to share with you (since you asked). … Read slow, and take each thought in as you go. Then ponder and read over a few more times.”

“Every single free choice I ever undertake arises out of one of the only two possible thoughts there are: a thought of love or a thought of fear. I am not fear. I am love. Love that needs no protection, love that cannot be lost. Winning or losing is not the test — only loving, or failing to love.

“At the critical juncture in all human relationships, there is only one question: What would love do now? I never do anything in a relationship out of a sense of obligation. I do whatever I do out of a sense of the glorious opportunity my relationship affords me to decide, and to be, who I really am.

“Longterm relationships — there is no requirement for them — but they do hold remarkable opportunities for mutual growth, mutual expression, and mutual fulfillment. If we both agree at a conscious level that the purpose of our relationship is to create an opportunity, not an obligation — an opportunity for growth, for full self expression, for lifting our lives to their highest potential, whatever that may be — for healing every false thought or small idea we have ever held about ourselves — that is a very good beginning.

“I will never disserve my relationships — nor anyone — by seeing more in another than they are showing me. For there is more there. There is always more there. Much more. It is only their fear that stops them from showing me. People tend to see in themselves what we see in them. I choose to be someone who sees out of love, not fear.”

“And then, I even have a few reminders about what fear does and what love does:

Fear: contracts, closes down, draws in, runs, hides, hoards, harms, clings to, grasps, rankles, attacks.

Love: expands, opens up, sends out, stays, reveals, shares, heals, gives away, holds dear, lets go, soothes, amends.

“There. Now my wisdom is your wisdom. Do with it what you will. :)”

Every word Allyson wrote resonated within me. No one else’s response to my query came close in describing the experience I felt I had lacked, the dynamic I had longed for with someone. No one else was able to capture the intricacies of fear and love, written and dispatched on a wavelength of which I was very much in tune. Being aware of such things seemed to be off everyone else’s experience.

As it turns out, the quoted section was a compilation of sentiments that Allyson collected as she read through “Conversations with God: an Uncommon Dialogue,” by Neale Donald Walsch. (See my comment about this below.)

Her response was good timing, too, as I met someone the following weekend in a place I did not expect to find someone, at the Grub Street Muse & the Marketplace writers conference, at a hotel in Boston. How we met is a pretty cool story, but one to be told at another time. “Your partner should inspire you to be a better person,” my friend Kate wrote in response to Part 1. That, too, has been the basis of my relationship with Elizabeth.

I have read a lot of advice about relationships, many times before and a little bit after receiving Allyson’s input, and I am glad to have formed a foundation on which, with every sound decision I make, I stand strong with an eye for opportunities to grow. On my own, and with Elizabeth, my luscious Elusia, as we build our life together.

1 Comment

  1. More about the book. Allyson told me:

    “As I read through it, there were sentences that leapt off the page for me, as things very pertinent to me in the moment that I wanted to keep in the forefront of my mind, and I would write them down on index cards to use as daily prompters about who I wanted to be, and how I could always make a choice about how I acted, responded, reacted. Later on, done with the book (for then, at least), I had a stack of a dozen or so — and I wove them together into that paragraph. So the paragraph contains both direct and indirect quotes from throughout the book, tweaked into a flowing compilation that worked for me.”

    And “the God of the title and book is not a Christian god, or of any religion. Being unreligious myself (but nonetheless wholely thankful and aware of the greater life force), I was relieved to discover this.”

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