Saturday, April 24, 2010

Are relationships about getting our needs met?

Last week I went out with a male friend who has made it clear that he would like to be more than just a friend--this, despite the fact that he already has a partner. Our relationship has had its ups and downs, but I thought that we had gotten to a place where we could enjoy each other's company without any expectations or agendas.

From my part, I don't feel that I have expectations from him or an agenda. I don't secretly hope that he will leave his partner and be mine. I don't expect him to take me out and treat me to dinners; we pay our own way. When I'm going through difficult emotional times, I don't expect him to come running to me and make it all better. I don't expect him to call me or show up in my life frequently. I'm just happy when he calls and I enjoy his company because I find him to be truthful, aware (except in the sexual arena), kind, loving, intelligent, wise, and fun to be around. I appreciate who he is and do not try to change him. We have very different ideas about certain things, mainly about what a partnership between a man and a woman should look like. But we both tell the truth and have a passion for freedom, and that to me is a very good reason to have him in my life.

This is the first relationship that I've had with a man which is not about getting my needs met. In my younger years (OK, up to a few years ago) I didn't see the point of being with a man unless there was a possibility that the relationship would lead to marriage. Hurray! I'm growing up.

So you can imagine how surprised I was when last week, at the Chinese restaurant, this friend told me that he wasn't getting his needs met from me. He asked me if I ever intended to have sex with him. "No," was my reply. He appeared hurt. Then there was hope in his eyes as he asked, "Well, would you consider just sleeping with me?" "No," I replied. He finally got it and became sullen.

When I asked him what he was feeling, he said he was feeling rejected. I was surprised and sad that he couldn't feel how much I love him because he had sex and love linked together. His belief seems to be that if a woman loves him, she will want to have sex with him. I explained that I love him and that this is his issue to resolve. He's mature enough to understand this but still needs to go away to process. Whether he decides to see me again or not is his choice.

I've been thinking of all the conditions that we place on our friends. If you love me you will...have sex with me, give me money, come to my birthday party, listen to my story, agree with me that my ex-husband is a jerk, etc. etc. The list goes on and on. What a heavy burden we put on friendship!

Can we imagine being in relationship just for the sheer pleasure of connecting?
Can we imagine being in relationship without getting anything out of it? Without any agreements of what the other person owes us or what we owe them?

I certainly hope so, because that's the only friendship that I'm willing to have these days...

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