When most of us enter into a relationship, we do so because we can’t wait to be near someone. We get butterflies in our stomach. Wild horses couldn’t hold us back from them. We finish all of our other tasks so that we can get to what we really want, which is to just be with them; enjoying their presence and connection. But for some of us, at a certain point in the relationship, something changes.
The pattern I am about to expose is a pattern I have seen in some women but it is by far and away most common amongst men. And it is a pattern that is the road to ruin in relationships. It is in fact the single biggest contributor to women deciding to cheat.
There is a phase of a relationship called the limerence phase. This is the phase where wild horses couldn’t keep us away from someone and all else that we could be doing pales in comparison to being with that person. Our bodies are alit with a chemical cocktail that causes us to feel totally and completely in love. For most couples, this phase begins to wear off somewhere within the two year mark. People start getting used to each other and taking each other for granted. It is at this point that either the relationship slowly dissolves or we now take the opportunity to practice conscious love by choice. It is at this point however that many people, especially men, begin to see the relationship as a task… As something that needs to get done.
Many people, especially men, approach life as if it is a never ending to do list. Life isn’t about being. It is about doing. It’s about the bills that need to be paid, the chores that have to be done. Life is about the steps that can be crossed off of the list so you can move on to the next thing. Even vacations become a thing to check of the list of things that need to be done. If we are not careful and are not loving consciously, our relationship falls into this category of things that need to be done. Our relationship becomes a task.
We do this with our partners, our friends, our children, our parents and the list goes on and on. We destroy our relationships by making the other person feel like they are a chore that needs to be done.
I cannot tell you how many men have destroyed their relationships this way. Their wives of girlfriends become one of their many tasks. Now, instead of being with their girlfriends or wives because they really want to be with them, they think of the woman’s need for them. Being with her then becomes something that he is doing in order to keep her happy and maintain the relationship in the same way that repainting the exterior of a house is the way to keep it from deteriorating.
Why does this destroy a relationship? Because it means that they have become a task that has to be done. No one’s self esteem can survive that message. The message is ‘you’re not good enough for me to want to be around you for my own sake and do these things for the joy of seeing you feel good.’ Imagine a man taking a woman on a first date. Imagine he showed up late and said, “Ok, I finally have some time now since I finished all the stuff I had to do today and I still have a lot to do but I know it’s important for you to have someone one on one time with me.” Or imagine that when he handed her flowers he did it with an air of doing it just because it is something a man should do to keep her happy. This man wouldn’t make it past the first date. To be honest, he wouldn’t make it to the first drink.
If we are treating a relationship like a task, we are not really deciding to prioritize being with the other person or doing things for them from a space of loving them and enjoying their presence and wanting to be around them because we value their presence in our life so much. Instead, we have decided that having the relationship in our life is important and there are steps we have to take now for them or for the relationship, whether we want to from our hearts or not, to ensure that the relationship is maintained. For women, sex often becomes one of these ‘tasks’. For men, quality time often becomes one of these ‘tasks’. It is impossible for the other person to feel loved when we treat doing them like it is a task.
Our being with another person should be led by enjoyment. It should not be a task. If the relationship is a task and we cannot use our conscious minds to chose to love them in a way where we can re-access the genuine desire to be with them and do for them, then the relationship is not a healthy one. It has become a means to an end for us. The relationship has become a transaction. And after becoming fully conscious about what exactly changed for us, we need to seriously consider whether we should stay in it.
If I really appreciate being with someone, I do not approach being with them like a thing that must be done. They do not have to ask me for my presence either. I approach it like I can’t wait to do it for my own sake. If I really love someone, I do not need to commit to the task of demonstrating love for them. I feel naturally inspired to touch them, tell them loving things, do things for them, give them gifts etc.
Any time you set aside time to spend with another person, ask yourself why you are doing it. If nothing else, it is important to be conscious of your actual motives, no matter how unsavory they may be. Whenever you do anything for someone, ask yourself why you are doing it. Are you doing it as a task? Are you doing it because you really, really want to for the joy of it or are you doing it as a necessary step to ensuring something else that you want? If you are making the relationship a task, put yourself in the other person’s shoes. How would it feel if they treated being with you or doing things for you like a chore or like a to do item to check off of the list. How would you feel if the message they were sending was that they were in the relationship for your sake and not their own? Only you can answer these questions and know whether what you are doing is right for you or whether you need to make a serious change.
Life is not a task. Relationships are not a task. Life and love is not something you can check off a list. They are not a means to an end. They are the end you are seeking. Be in life and be in love as if the being in and of itself is what you came here for and you will have happy relationships. And never forget, a happy life is about happy relationships because relationships really are what life is composed of.