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#20 - Can't Measure Love

It's no wonder that many relationships are in trouble. There are so many screwed up ideas about how good relationships function. Take, for example these two cliches, "Marriage is a fifty, fifty thing..." and "You have to give and take." Its sad, but because of these two sayings, some folks actually enter relationships with wrong ideas.

Relationships just don't work like that. There's no way to measure love and that's why those sayings are misleading. They imply that, somehow, you will be able to figure out when its your turn to stop giving to the other person and get something in return. That's not really possible and you will only be disappointed if that's what you expect.

I've witnessed quite a bit of misery caused by the actions of people who feel that they "deserve" something from their partner because "I did this and I do that..." or "It's my turn to have some fun." They treat a relationship like a child's game. The only way to fully enjoy a relationship is to give, give, give and hope you have the right partner. 

You know that I know that some of you are thinking things like, "Yeah, that's easy for him to say, he don't know my man", or "you don't have a woman like mine". Hey what can I say, maybe you shouldn't either.

It's sadly true but some of you may have chosen the wrong type of person for your mate. (Read #9 - How to choose a mate) But, I'll bet that many more of you have never tried the giving way of loving.

 Once again, I find myself having to warn my readers. You shouldn't "give" to anyone who doesn't treat you with basic human decency, so I'm not advising any of you to "take crap" off of any lover. People will only treat you how you let them treat you. Don't let anyone mistreat you. If someone is mistreating you, get away, you deserve better. 

What I am trying to tell you is that, if you try to "keep score" in your relationships, you are doomed to failure. For one thing, its just not possible for anyone to "keep score" in a relationship. The only person who can tell when they are "giving" is the giver. (Read on. For once again the Love Doctor is about to use an example which will clarify the point so well that even people who aren't regular readers will be able to understand and be enlightened.) 

When Boo and I first married, she was an inexperienced cook (a euphemism). Each day, she would work hard in the kitchen of our rented eight foot wide house trailer, preparing meals for her young Airman First Class husband. One evening, she had prepared her first batch of meat balls and spaghetti. As she placed the plate before her lover, it was obvious from the glowing smile on her face that she was proud of her culinary achievement. (This fact did not go unnoticed by her young, one day to be Love Doctor husband, for even then I was extremely observant of human behavior.) 

Boo's eyes were glued to my face as I swirled the bright red sauce covered pasta around my fork, speared a bit of meat ball and placed the forkful into my mouth, awkwardly sucking up a strand of spaghetti which dangled from my closed lips. To this day, I am grateful for that errant strand. For, I am convinced that the act of slurping it up allowed me to cover up my initial reaction to the rather sour and bitter taste of Boo's new creation. That's love folks! That's giving!

My young wife needed a success to help her feel happy and confident about herself in her new role as housewife, so I gave. She didn't know that I was giving, she thought that she was giving, by trying hard to please me. It made her feel good to feel that way, so I let her. 

By the way, I ate that meal with such gusto that, for years to come, at least once each week, my sweetie has prepared "my favorite dish", her meatballs and spaghetti, for my dining pleasure. It wasn't until our oldest child was about 15 years old that I finally found a gentile way to tell Boo that I really didn't like that dish. We both had a good laugh as we discussed how and why she believed her pasta was "my favorite dish". Actually my telling her didn't change much of anything. We still have the dish once a week. You see, the kids have grown up on the stuff and just can't live without it.

Just to be fair, I have to admit that recently, I've figured out that Boo would happily have lived without some of the adventures that she has shared with me.

If you have some one who is treating you like a human being, give them your best. This is the only way in which love can be completely enjoyed, when two people make a constant effort to help one another and then share one another's joy. 

As a matter of fact, probably the best test for a potential mate is to "give". Give of your time, effort and attention (not necessarily sex).

Does the person treat you kindly, with respect and attention? If they do, great, you have found someone who will probably respond positively to love. Even if they don't, you are better off for "giving" a try. At least, now, you know that you must move on. Let's face it. Not everyone knows how to respond to giving (and you can't raise anyone but children). If you've given to a person and they don't treat you right, you should be able to "move on" without feeling guilty or that nagging doubt about whether you did everything you could have. You did what it took to succeed, you "gave". Unfortunately, one person giving is not enough, it takes two people willing to give and give to make a relationship work. "It takes two to Tango".