At times, I ask the wrong people for advice about the wrong things.
When I do this, I tend to get, well, bad advice.
As my mentor has often reminded me, the key to getting good advice is to ask the right people about the right things.
Here are three examples:
- If I need advice about a recovery issue, I want to ask someone who is a few steps ahead of me on the recovery journey and/or has professional expertise in recovery matters.
- If I need advice of a romantic nature, I want to ask someone who is now/has been in the past in the kind of healthy romantic partnership I aspire to also be in.
- If I need advice about my career, I want to ask someone who has expertise in my line of work or a similar profession.
You probably get the idea right away. But often I still don’t.
Recently I ill-advisedly shared news-in-progress about some possible choices my significant other and I were talking over with someone who (frankly) didn’t meet the criteria to offer advice in this area.
Yet I got advice anyway….and the advice was along the lines of “but what if you don’t get everything you want and need by making this or that choice?”
In other words, “but what if you find out he doesn’t really love you….because he doesn’t just give you everything you want and need….whether it is healthy or advisable or even beneficial to your relationship for him to give it or not?”
So of course I talked to my mentor about it, and she reminded me that approaching any decision – romantic, other relationship, career, recovery, anything really – from the standpoint of “me, me, me” rarely yields the best possible decision.
She also reminded me that getting everything I want is not at all the same thing as being genuinely loved.
To help me better remember this in the future – and resist the temptation to worry or make decisions along purely “me, me, me” lines – I have nicknamed this type of decision-making “Needy Greedy Love.”
I should really just call it “Needy Greedy Me,” because this kind of “love” isn’t really love at all.
Yet it is frequently masqueraded right in front of us as love of the highest kind.
Target’s advertisement featuring a bride and groom kissing a blender, with the slogan “You May Kiss the Gift,” is a perfect example.
So is Cartier’s advertisement showing a gorgeous diamond ring, with the slogan “What extraordinary love looks like” (see above).
Here, the couples are marrying what they can get out of each other, not each other.
I have had friendships that also seem to follow this popular model.
Over time, I have learned that friends who get easily bent out of shape about: a) not getting a timely thank-you card for a gift, b) not getting an RSVP for a meet-up, c) not getting enough of my time, d) not getting my full endorsement when they recount a bit of drama featuring “me versus the-evil-other-side”….well, these are all examples of Needy Greedy Me, not actual love.
It’s a bummer when this happens. But it describes many new connections I have experienced over the last few years…..and all of those which have not survived.
Today my mentor and I were talking about how very few people we have in our respective circles who truly “get” us and who make us feel truly known and loved, and how these few people rise head and shoulders above the rest simply because there is no “pull” from Needy Greedy Me anywhere in their midst.
There is just the connection – the ability to listen when it’s time to listen and speak when it’s time to listen – the amazing gift of understanding when life gets in the way of meeting up – and a genuine desire for the best for each other, no. matter. what.
I am finding the exact same holds true for romantic and also business connections. If there is too much “me” in the mix, much is still possible, but not love of the sort I crave to receive AND to give.
Oddly, I have learned this also holds true when there is not ENOUGH “me” in the mix.
Here, Needy Greedy morphs into “I’m not worthy! I’m not worthy!” and the other party is stuck with a patient rather than a partner. (Even more oddly, the end result often feels pretty much the same.)
In stark contrast, real love appears to be a fairly even mix of me wanting the best for the other person and the other person wanting that same best for me.
In this, the satisfaction, fulfillment, and joy that comes from caring actively (which may include not getting what we want in favor of the other) for the other person soundly trumps any satisfaction/fulfillment/joy that might come from getting my way.
If both can happen, great – clearly, this is the ideal scenario in every case.
But sometimes I have found I feel MORE joy, MORE satisfaction, MORE fulfillment by realizing I want my partner to be happy MORE than I want to get what I want.
That has been a real – and very genuinely loving – revelation.
And it feels nothing at all like my inner “needy greedy” who doubts, second-guesses, and asks the wrong people for advice about the wrong things, then makes the wrong decisions based on that bad advice.
Today’s Takeaway:Whether romantically, in friendships, business relationships, or other connections, where do you draw the line between a simple battle of “give versus take” and true love? How do you know when the bond you share with another person is one made up of real, honest-to-goodness, healthy love?