Is the issue with me or my partner?
Imagine this. You want to go camping but you don’t want to go alone. In fact, you want to go camping with a romantic partner but there is a problem. Well, two problems. You do not have a partner and you do not have much camping gear. You are passionate about camping yet you are not in a place where you can go alone and procure your own supplies.
So you do the next logical thing, you look for a partner who enjoys camping and has the required camping gear. You date and date and date and finally you find the perfect partner. You connect on your mutual love of camping, you have other things in common, there’s chemistry. It’s perfect.
So now both of you decide to go camping together. You pick a great location and start packing. And then you realize that there’s a slight problem. Not a huge one but one you cannot overcome. Your camping partner likes to camp under the stars while you like to sleep in a RV. You have a need for safety and comfort while your partner thinks it’s blasphemy to bring a whole house into the wilderness. Might as well stay home in that case.
Yet, both of you still want to go camping with each other but on your individual terms. So you try to convince your partner to buy an RV, you joke, explain the benefits, share why it’s important to you, offer to cook dinner, help your partner with a project, run an errand, etc, all the while hoping that the nice things you do will and your partner want to give in. And your partner does the same creating a dynamic of “you owe me.” But still no consensus. When being “nice” does not produce required results, one of you starts to guilt trip the other. Disappointment and resentment set in.
“I did such and such for them. And they did nothing in return. Bastard,” you both say. “It’s impossible to find a decent partner these days!”
But is the true problem with a partner of with your expectations of what a partner should be or do? Do you have a list of gaps in your self esteem, financial or social situation that you would like your partner to satisfy? Are you unable to buy your own camping gear and pick your own camping location and you expect someone else to do this for you? And how to you expect it to happen: on your terms or through loss of self?
Do you have specific expectations of the other person? And when they are not met, what do you do? Do you try to mold the other person to play on your terms? Do you shape-shift yourself in order to meet the expectations of another?
What are you looking for? A partner to feed your ego or expand your heart? Is the exchange strictly an ego based dynamic designed to fill in the gaps in your life that you are not willing or able to fill yourself? Or is there more to it? And does the heart actually need to be fed?
Something to ponder next time you feel disappointed or let down by someone. Or in about a minute.