I believe underneath it all people want to love and be loved in return. Based on the definition of love we read at weddings, “Love is patient; love is kind…” (1 Cor 13:4-7) when we love someone whether our partner, family, or friends, we ultimately offer them safety and they should be offering us safety in return: safety from being attacked, safety from being used, safety from being enabled to continue bad habits, and safety to make mistakes. The problem is, we may want to share love, but that doesn’t mean we’re smart about it. I believe that people generally have a good idea of how to treat others, the Golden Rule is pretty popular, but even the nicest, most loving person is capable of doing something really dumb. How? I like to use the following scale where “attractive” means the person feels loved and offers love in a healthy way. It means he or she is patient, kind, and self controlled, which is a very attractive persona for a friend or partner.
Desperate (-10) ——- Attractive (0) ——- Cold (10)
Like most relationship scales, this one usually ends up balancing. For instance, if someone gets Cold (distant, guarded, lacks emotional connection, etc) it tends to lead to the other person in the relationship going Desperate (extra defensive, overly emotional, quick to snap, begging and pleading, overly nice, whipped, etc), and vice versa. Similarly, an “Attractive” person will most likely be in a relationship with another “Attractive” person. Essentially, the more Desperate or Cold we get, the more the other person will be the other. So, if we’re frustrated with how clingy or naggy our partner is, there’s a good chance it’s connected to us being distant. If we shut down emotionally, the other person will most likely act very emotionally desperate. This is the same reason why when people think their partner is going to leave them they do desperate behaviors they used to make fun of other people for doing. Desperation fuels madness, which is why normally calm people can lose it. If someone is desperate to feel love they’ll do anything… even write love poetry, ew. The great thing about knowing this is we have some control of how our relationship works. For instance, if we want to heal a relationship like a marriage (dealing with parents is usually more complicated), being “Attractive” should help, which means being slow to anger, kind, and self controlled. It really only takes one of us starting to do this, but unfortunately most hurt people don’t want to lead the way, especially since there’s a small risk that the other person will stay the same. If this happens and you’ve been on attractive behaviour for a month, this is a likely a sign the other person is ready to move on… or you really haven’t been good at being “Attractive”.
For relationships in general, this is an important lesson, especially when you’re trying to sell an idea. Last weekend I was in New York… yes, this was the second time in a few months. When I went in April the main purpose was to give someone there a business proposal. After that trip I knew the person I met was busy and the proposal would likely end up in a large ‘to-do’ pile that eventually gets tossed out, so I decided to go back down to try again. This person is in a play on Broadway and I ended up planning on seeing him the three nights I was there during his meet and greet after the show to give him small gifts. I figured this was risky because it could make me look desperate, but my wife was with me to avoid that loser-loner look and my idea is about encouraging kindness so the gifts made sense. At the third encounter I went for the Hail Mary pass and asked him to meet for coffee before the next day’s show. He said yes, and I was able to sit with him for close to 20 minutes. Unfortunately, after the meeting my mind raced over what I said wrong and what I should’ve said. Fortunately, watching a play was a good way to stop that thinking… I love Broadway. The worst part is I really, really, really want this deal to work out, so it’d be easy for me to act desperate. It’d be easy to message or call him apologizing for the dumb things I said and correcting what I meant, but that would put me in the desperate column. I’d essentially look like the teenager over-thinking a date who ends up being dumb and pushing the person he likes away because he’s so worried about looking dumb. Ultimately, the last thing anyone trying to impress other people should do is seem desperate. Fortunately, there was no way for me to contact him after this meeting and all I can do is… nothing. Now I continue on with my life with hope in the back of my mind that he’ll think about it. At this point, doing nothing is the only thing that will keep me in the “Attractive” column… which is one of the hardest things someone who over thinks can do.
This week may you start to find how to present yourself attractively rather than in a desperate or cold way.
Rev Chad David, www.ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people