Whenever you engage with your (sexual) partner, you not only negotiate what each of you wants, but also you internally make choices what you are comfortable with and what you are not ready to do. That’s the nature of things. That leaves you with one decision: will you move outside of your comfort zone or stick with your original ‘want’? The crux of the question lies in the little word ‘you’ in the previous phrase.
If both of you engage with the idea that you’re only ready to do what works for either of YOU, your options quickly shrink to a handful of things where both partners’ wishes meet – unless you are a really lucky couple of people whose wishes match more than average, of course. The point here is that there is more to a connection that what ‘you’ ‘want’. Give the following idea a spin:
Rather than looking at what you want, why not consider what you are prepared to engage with, irrespective of your current ‘wants’? We’re looking at things you are not quite passionate about: the classic things you do occasionally because it comes up during the action, but feel a little ‘meh’. This will considerably enlarge the circle that represents you in that Venn diagram, leading to a much larger overlap area where the two of you meet. If your partner does the same, you are looking at a winner already.
Now add THIS one: what would you be prepared to do for your partner that goes beyond what you are prepared to do initially for yourself? This would include things that you would be prepared to TRY with that particular partner. Now we’re talking: the diagram just increased in opportunities by another sizeable chunk!
Ultimately, any connection with another person involves a bit of give and take, and maybe we should think of this less as ‘giving something up’ but rather ‘being offered an opportunity to expand our limits’?
stay conscious of your wishes, but play to your partner’s wishes, too
Most of us, at some point or other, have been looking/hoping/wishing for the perfect mate. Unfortunately, it appears that the perfect partner, “the One”, does not exist. Yet we insist on finding them! Why is that?
We are brought up with the idea that ‘the One’ is out there somewhere and if we only hold out long enough, we’ll ultimately cross paths and be happy forever after. Can you see the problem with this? There are two issues here: “holding out for the One” and the notion of “the One” in itself.
First of all, why does it have to be one person to start with? The idea of monogamy has proven to be highly complex and problematic. It only appears to work for a minority of people, while in many cases there is a level of societal pressure or internal expectations and requirement that keep a couple together. Often even at the cost of mental stability of either or both partners. Maybe this is something for you to consider going forward.
And then there is the big one: holding out for the One until he comes along, setting yourself up for failure in the process! How likely do you think it really is that you not only bump into that person, but that you instantly know him well enough to be able to decide that he is ‘perfect’. Amongst other flaws in the argument, this completely disregards the fact that people tend to change over time.
On the flipside of this coin we consider “settling” for someone less than perfect. Everything we see around us and experience is set up to make us believe that anything but true love and perfection won’t do. And ‘settling’ is considered something really bad and sad.
Settling for someone who is 80% perfect is better than waiting for 100% perfect and never finding him. It takes the pressure off yourself to accept less than perfect as a valid option. Hoping for perfection is a sure-fire way to stay alone in the end, because nobody is likely to fulfil all your expectations. You’ll just be disappointed all the time, making life miserable.
go with slightly imperfect and keep your sanity
Sometimes people ask me if I am a Buddhist. Frankly, I can’t really tell.
The eclectic nature of modern Western spirituality has not left me untouched. Although I was brought up Catholic, I would not describe me as such. My family was not religious at all, it was just something ‘you had to do’. My mom always stated that ‘once you have all the sacraments you can do what you want’. She was right, once that was done, I stopped bothering with religion at all.
Religion, and spirituality by association, never really played a role for me. I never could understand why anyone would ‘believe’. I still can’t, if I’m honest. However, I have been changing my stance on spirituality in a big way: I am sure that there is something out there that connects us all. And I even suspect that ‘something’ is a combination of all of us, in fact. So in a way, my stance is this: I’m part of something that is at the same time part of me. And that ‘something’ is EVERYTHING.
This connection with EVERYTHING crops up in my everyday experiences: making a connection with another person, being mesmerised by the beauty of the sky, hearing the buzz of insects or the howl of the wind, touching someone and getting zapped by the realisation that we are one. I would imagine that this sounds a little strange to some of you, dear readers, but that’s just how it feels to me. What flows from this notion is my very personal approach to the world around me. If it's all part of what I consider 'me', I have to tread lightly not to damage it and myself in the process.
This sense of being connected is part of me, and it emerges in the form of mindfulness, kindness, and I’m working my way towards non-attachment, all of which are elements of Buddhism, of course. Then again, they are not limited to Buddhist practices, so does that make me a Buddhist? I don’t think so, but I’m not even sure how to define the boundaries of different spiritual streams, if there even is such a boundary. I’ve come to understand that many practices stretch across faiths and belief systems, and I like to think that has more to do with their universal truth than their association with a particular belief.
So to answer the question: ‘Am I a Buddhist?” I say ‘I’m just me’.
spirituality is a deeply personal concept
These are my own thoughts on aspects of my work I feel strongly about.