[Some of the case histories reported in this "Frus-Dating" series represent scenarios which, in my experience, occur repeatedly. They are as much patterns as case histories in that I see essentially the same story played out more than once. I am starting these case histories with one such scenario that I see time after time repeatedly, especially in my workshops or pubic presentations which allow for audience involvement. This is probably the scenario which, in my workshop experience, has repeated itself the most times.
The general theme starts with the subject of: the crucial and fundamental role of giving, so as to please a spouse. I speak, in the lecture, from Talmudic and Torah sources, how giving builds love for another within a person. I describe the widespread mistake of expecting love to come first, followed by giving, and how unless giving comes first, lasting love cannot be developed. I describe how the more that love is NOT built from giving AND NOT accompanied by respect, the more the love will degenerate and end.
Someone in the audience (sometimes more than one person) invariably raises a hand. Almost always, the person is a female in her late thirties or in her forties. On rare occasion it is a male or another age group. The person is either divorced or, if not, has had some one-sided and strongly emotional relationships which, in the end, were very unhappy.
Let's say I'm doing a presentation or workshop for singles. A woman in her early forties raises her hand. Let's say her name is Devorah. The following script, more or less, recurs time after time after time.]
"Yes, Devorah." The subject matter already has her face a little emotional, perhaps longing or bewildered. I can see it in the eyes.
"Rabbi, you said that giving builds love. I was in a very close relationship. More than once. I gave all the time. I'm a very sensitive person. I feel for a guy and I want to have a happy relationship so much. And when I give, all the guys do is take advantage. They take what they want, but they don't give back. They're ingrates. Sometimes they are downright nasty [or angry or selfish]. How does that go with what you're saying about love and giving?"
"Devorah, never lose sight of the fact that giving is always a two-way street. Failing that, you have the contemporary high divorce rate and so many singles not finding a happy relationship. People wind up disillusioned, lonely and sad. A stable, loving relationship entails reciprocal giving. Your ATTITUDE has to be one of 'I want to give and not ask to take from the other.' But, the other person has the same exact responsibility. The other has to give the same ATTITUDE back also. The other person has to give also."
"But, rabbi, they never do," she said with hurting emotion in her voice.
"Devorah, I'm going to tell you something very deep. I want you to think about it very seriously, because it will be the foundation for answering this.
"The way a person views and relates to and chooses a relating partner is an extension of your deepest inner-personality. It is not true that people never give back. However, we live, today, in a very selfish, materialistic and psychologically deficient society. Takers are common.
"What I have to ask you to explore is: what is it within you that causes you to choose the relating partners that you select? What causes you to choose relating partners who don't give, who are mean and self-oriented? What attracts you to them, especially if repeatedly?
"There's some thing in you that settles for, or may be driven after, relationships that cause you pain and dissatisfaction. We choose relationships that are extensions of our inner psychological reality and our self-concept. There is something in the type of men you select that stimulates you emotionally. You associate something about them with something under the surface in your emotions. That determines what you see as normal or axiomatic. If these underlying 'realities,' that you've been conditioned to operate by, cause you to expect hurt or rejection; or cause you to feel that you have to give of yourself in order to 'buy' love, approval or emotional security, then you will go after relating partners who match your internal psychological axioms, expectations, needs or 'reality.'
"Ask yourself if you notice any pattern or similarity, in regards to this, between the men you've chosen as relating partners, or in your relationships. If you can't get to the bottom of this on your own, perhaps a professional will help.
"The way a person chooses a relationship or partner is an extension of the inner self. If you elevate your standards, axioms, emotions and practices, you will gradually grow more sensitive to giving, reciprocity and compatibility as the 'reality' in choosing, cultivating and conducting relationships. Getting along, love, respect and giving will be 'normal.' Anyone who doesn't operate this way, anyone who can't reciprocate, becomes irrelevant. They won't measure up. You won't relate to, be attracted to or value a person unless he shares the same axioms and behaviors.
"When you get to that point, it will be normal to only choose and cultivate a relationship with a partner who can give back. Much of this will take care of itself. You may then need some skill development, fine-tuning or behavior modification. But if you can re-orient yourself to see BOTH RELATING PARTNERS AS WORTHY OF, AS WELL AS PROVIDERS OF, GIVING, and practice this and develop consistency in this, and get a bit of coaching, things will gradually get better. If you make a mistake along the way, that can be expected, so don't let it get to you. Correct it and just keep on going.
"You obviously are a person with a lot to offer. I see that you are a sensitive and substantive person. Don't stop giving. Don't be discouraged. Don't drop your standards. BRING YOUR SELECTION CRITERIA UP TO YOUR OWN STANDARDS! Don't settle for a guy who abuses your standards. Establish your standards as a basis for constructive and mutual exchange. Then when you give, it will cultivate the deep and fulfilling love that you are looking for. It's not that giving doesn't build love. You need two 'players' who 'play' by the same 'giving rules.' When a man or a woman gives, and chooses a relating partner who also gives, together you can build a happy and serious relationship. If you can build this into your foundation, all the pieces will then fit together. No one gets shortchanged. Both are fulfilled. You will both give and you will both share love."
Devorah smiled with warmth and reassurance.