10 Steps to True Love
He loved her for several years. There was challenge in those years, and there was good in those years. They experienced “the best of life together,” were “strong together” and “always supported each other.”
And then she cheated on him with another man.
So what went wrong? And when is love worth fighting for?
Without knowing more details—and the other partner’s perspective—it’s tough to give individualized advice. But I do have opinions on love and what drives us to cheat.
A while ago, I wrote an article entitled the four stages of cheating and when it’s warranted. My opinion remains mostly the same, which is that it’s never the best choice to cheat because cheating feels shitty―no matter what side of the fence we’re on.
Since then, I’ve discovered from numerous conversations with men that as they get older and are ready to settle down with one woman—whether they’re in a committed relationship or looking for one—men’s needs shift.
As they age, men need more than great sex to be sexually satisfied.
Men—aside from wanting to be wanted (don’t we all)—need emotional connection, communication, support, acceptance, adoration, loving tenderness and a bunch of other stuff that we women have always needed―and have been permitted to need.
As men age, they usually get more in touch with their feminine side—perhaps it’s that they simply get more courage in allowing themselves to go there.
Of course, even if men are aware of this, they don’t want to straight out say it because it’s their damn feminine side. They’re men, after all. According to millions of years of evolutionary biology and current customs supporting social history, many men believe that they are expected to be—an expect themselves to be—providers, procreators, and protectors.
Rough and tough.
Fair enough. But if we want a man to stay loyal, we need to do more for him than lay down and spread ‘em. They’ll often still take it when they can get it, but they’ll (consciously or unconsciously) want—and may eventually find—the full meal emotional dealio elsewhere.
What about Women?
Women have their own “traditional” needs in relationships (see above), and as we get older, we more strongly develop many of the same “traditional” needs as men: freedom, respect, sex—to be a meaningful provider.
We want to be taken care of, but we can take care of ourselves. We want men to ask us out, but we shoot them down when they try. We want men to open up emotionally, but still “be a man.” We want to be viewed as an equal in the workplace but desired as a feminine goddess at happy hours—or not.
Men tell me that the challenge with them providing for our needs is that they’re confused by the mixed messages we send them.
I don’t blame them.
Bottom line: Men don’t speak “hint.”
But women are likely to pick up on hints as communication: blinks, sideways glances, gut feelings, subtle frowns, nods, twitches, squints and all manner of intuitive and nuanced understandings.
Men simply speak. Most aren’t as naturally tuned in to subtle communication cues.
Men are built differently than women, and this is not a bad thing.
Great women know this and know how to keep a good man loyal. And don’t let any misinformed feminist tell us different—knowing how to keep a good man happy without sacrificing ourselves… that’s female empowerment.
In a Nutsack: people cheat because they’re not getting their needs met in their current relationship.
That simple. That complex.
Who’s fault is it? Both are responsible. Or neither.
We come into relationships for partnership, but we rarely play like a team. Sure, in the beginning, we’re in the honeymoon: “Honey, what can I do for you?” but, after the la-la-lovey phase and the fireworks fade, relationships require attention.
The best batter in the world doesn’t rest on his laurels after his first home run. Richard Branson doesn’t look at his conglomerates and say, “Meh, that’s good enough.” You don’t work out six days a week for six months and then say, “That should do ‘er for life.”
A plant dies if you don’t water it.
You get my point.
Whatever success is worth having in life—career, healthy, love, etc.—requires continued, conscious and sustained attention and effort. Fact. The sooner we get over it, the better we’ll feel.
The thing is that effort doesn’t equal unpleasant “work.” It’s only work if it’s not something we value. And if we don’t value it, then why we be thinking about working for it, y’all?
Branson loves the things he “gets to do” to sustain his success. Athletes get juiced on the process and take pride in the small improvements they make along the way to greatness.
If we want an amazing relationship, we mustn’t fight for it, but we must want to “effort” for it.
If we don’t strive for ourselves and for our partner—for our relationship—our partner will feel that lack and eventually need that feeling from someone else, somewhere else.
And when that someone else shows up and provides what we need when our partner isn’t, temptation can lead to a little something-something—cheating.
A cheating partner is someone who isn’t happy in the relationship, whether there’s something missing in the relationship or in themselves.
We can’t “fix” someone else; all we can do is make our best to “effort” in the relationship. If the other person doesn’t (or isn’t able to) appreciate our commitment to the relationship and effort back, then the relationship may no longer be the right one for either of us.
How to Love:
- Know our own needs. Ask our self: What’s the “why” behind this need?
- Choose a compatible partner. Hint: Getting to know someone before we fall in love is a good idea, yet not often heeded, which leads to …
- Remember that sexual attraction doesn’t necessarily mean compatibility.
- Ask for our needs to be met. Do not demand. Do not give ultimatums. Do not hint.
- Meet our own needs. Love thy self. Not having self-respect is not attractive.
- Provide for the needs of our partner. Without demands. Without ultimatums. As long as those needs don’t take away from self-love.
- Ask our partner to meet their own needs. Love their self.
- Be loving enough to our partner to know when to let go of what’s not important.
- Be loving enough to our partner and our self to know when to let go and set our partner free if they’re (/we’re) the wrong one and trust that there is a righter partner out there for both.
- Forgive and thank our partner no matter how it turns out. They taught us something valuable. Whether we stay together or split up, it’s our responsibility to learn.
Love relationships give us the gift of growth by allowing us to explore and express our vulnerabilities, which demands the greatest amount of courage.
And courage is sexy, after all.
Author: Anna Jorgensen
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Ashley Webb at Flickr