Compersion, Changes & Love
Deirdre M. Murphy
Accomodating another's needs to the exclusion of your own is a hard one to get around... where's the gratification that you were seeking in the first place? I don't believe accomodating another's needs to the exclusion of yours is wise. I've never seen it work. Accomodating anothers' needs while defering yours, for a time, can work, IF the time period isn't too long. And if there's a balance. If A regularly defers her needs, but B never defers his needs, A will come to feel used, resentful, unappreciated.
In my humble opinion, accomodating another's needs to the exclusion of your own is not, in the long run, loving toward yourself or the other. One of my basic principles is that if you don't take care of yourself, you won't be able to take care of anyone else.
Now, of course, there is a difference between needs and wants. You can (and often should) accomodate another's needs to the exclusion of something you want, but do not need. However, once we agree on air, water, food, shelter, and clothing, there is a lot of disagreement as to where the line between "need" and "want" lies. The line is further muddied because there can be more than one way to meet a need, and you may want one of those "ways" more than the other available options.
But in general, what I've seen is that there has to be a balance, that if one partner is always giving, and is not getting "enough", that is a problem, and if it persists, it is often a serious enough problem that the relationship cannot survive. Change is not as easy as it's usually bandied about.
"Easy"--no, of course change is not easy. That doesn't mean we are not responsible for today's behavior just because we were taught to do it that way, or because we have been doing it that way for years.
When I came to believe it was not possible to avert my divorce, it was because I stopped feeling better knowing that my then-husband didn't intend to hurt me. The pain had reached a point where it was more than I could deal with, regardless of his intentions. He was terribly upset when I told him that his good intent was not enough--that I couldn't put up with being hurt repeatedly just because he meant well.
In my humble opinion, taking responsibility for your life and actions requires that you face the need to change, to become the you that you want to be, and to treat those around you well, according to your morals, and to start bringing the things and people you want around you into your life.
And I'm not sure that what changes is your inner nature. I think we can only become more and more ourselves and as we do we can release others to do the same. I would agree here, mostly. Who you want to be is based on your inner values. But I say I agree because you can choose not to become your best, truest self; you can choose not to try to understand your life and your mistakes, you can choose not to change.
I find it's freeing to not get caught up in the charge to change hill. I gather imformation, make my own survey map of the territory, putting in the obstacles, and have to trust that even if I can't see how I'll ever get over that obstacle that I'll be gathering strength and gifts (yeah like those role-playing games) that will serve me when these situations come up.
I told my ex once that I couldn't possibly tell him how I would change, I couldn't promise a particular change, because I change from the center out--not by imposing a set of behaviors I got from someone else on myself, but by learning something new, understanding something I had not understood before. And although you can choose what "territory" you will study, what direction you will point yourself in, how can you know, ahead of time, what new insight, what new intuition or wisdom you will gain, from the traveling? If you haven't the luxury to do this for yourself and with your partners perhaps it is just as well to stand back and see what happens by letting that person do what seems right for themselves.
If you don't love someone for who they are, which includes what choices they make, then you have a different definition of love than I do. Love requires acceptance of someone as they are, with their limitations and faults. I think love also includes belief that they can improve themselves--and expressing that belief in a supportive way. But love isn't, to me, about defining who that person is and who they should become--it's that person's life, their only life; it's that person's right to decide who to be and what to do.
But that sort of trust in other's choices doesn't mean that you are being passive meanwhile... You must have it out with your doubts, anxieties, and your own needs. What role are you playing that might be keeping your partners from making choices with good judgement? It is a trial, I lived with people that did some real nit-wit stuff. Still loved them. I like the question, "What are you doing that might hinder your partners from making choices with good judgement?" I like that a lot.
But my real fulfillment derives from neither being a hero or victim in all the scenerios. Whenever I expect something from others, I get into the hero/victim mode. And when such expectations are hung on me, I can get into that hero/victim mode by the assumption that I'm suppose to satisfy their expectations. This doesn't say that I should not be responsible.
Interesting thoughts about how other's expectations (demands) can move one away from the joyous sharing of equals that is so much a part of what I think of as romantic love.
I think that loving someone means, also, that you want that person to be happy. Happy with you, of course, for whatever time you are together, but also, happy when not with you, whether he or she is alone, at work, or with some other friend or group. And loving means sharing joys and sorrows, insights and wisdom, jokes and efforts.
Compersion, to me, is an extension of that understanding of love--that the sharing of joy can extend (and, for me, does extend) to hearing about the joy of finding a new love.
Moving to a place where it is easier to really stand back and allow for your partner to go and have her own, special relationship or time with somebody is a far stretch. It challenges our bedtime comfort.
What is the challenge? Fearing they will love the new somebody more than you? Monogamy doesn't ensure that such a thing won't happen--and it makes it more likely that if it does, you will lose all of your relationship with the one you love rather than just "changing positions".
I'd rather know that someone is with me because they want to be with me--and how better to know that someone really feels like sharing with me than to have him come to me to share his joy about finding a new friend or lover? That tells me that he wants to continue being intimate with me, to continue sharing our lives and thoughts, even though he has met someone else who is also pretty wonderful.