Dana (not her real name) wept as she related her disappointment in her boyfriend. He knew Valentine’s Day meant a great deal to her and he knew she wanted him to do something special. Dana described in detail why this holiday mattered to her and the stock she put in celebrating it well. Then she detailed her disappointment in his performance:
- He had disappointed her by taking her to a restaurant they had already been to several times.
- He only bought champagne when she asked him why the wait staff hadn’t delivered it.
- His gift was a necklace.
- When he saw her disappointment he gently reminded her that finances were tight. He had just begun to work again after being laid off for 15 months; debts should be paid down.
- He didn’t say he would exchange it for a better necklace.
She broke up with him, waiting to see what he might do to get her back.
Wondering if her wound was due to inequity, I asked: “How did you let him know he was special on Valentine’s Day?”
Dana’s response: “What do you mean?”
Our discussion began in earnest. Dana’s expectations were that she would be feted and acknowledged as the most important thing in her partner’s life and that this would be done on this special day. In her mind, this was a one-way holiday. All arrows pointing toward her.
It is human nature to test our partners. It is human nature to want “proof” that we are, indeed, the One our partner is committed to.
My question is this: Would we pass the test we set for our partners? Loving on Life’s terms means understanding that our partner has needs and concerns. It means understanding that our partner wants to know he is special too, that he matters for more than he can give [materially].
Things to consider:
When you assess whether or not you matter to your partner, ask yourself: does your partner matter to you? How do you let your partner know this?
Do you hold yourself to the same level of expectation you hold your partner to?
If you could observe yourself in relation to your partner, what message do you give most clearly?