My book-club group is composed of spiritual women on a journey to be all they can be, without giving up who they are. After a year of being together, we are settling into the kind of romantic relationships with men that we once promised that we would never settle for. We had the self-confidence and desire for more, but now we question our worth to deserve more. If a guy has five of the eight qualities we value, we just say, “Oh well, we better keep him and just live without the other three qualities: romance, initiative and spark.” What is this about?
Saying yes to Mr. Right Now instead waiting for Mr. Right? Hey, there’s a reason why patience is a virtue. Few people possess it, and even fewer care to nurture it within themselves. Instead, most of us happily submit to the culture’s worship of speed. We’re in a hurry, especially to fill the vacancies in our lives.
But what’s wrong with being single? Most spiritual teachers of previous generations were single, except Muhammad (who, by the way, married an older woman) and it’s still mostly that way. Like your circle of readers, these men and women were on a journey to fulfill their potential. But unlike your book-club members, men and women who are truly on a spiritual path are always willing to surrender who they are for who they are becoming. They focus on agape, not eros. And that’s spirituality: a passion for and commitment to personal transformation toward the good as an act of love and service to a power greater than yourself.
Spirituality does not include an attitude of “I deserve more than this!” A wounded, unhealthy ego engages in that kind of entitlement thinking, and the behavior that results from it. In spirituality, we are content with life as it is, while moving forward into experiences that elicit growth in the selfless love of others. It’s becoming more and more awake. This is not the focus of the women in your book club. Their struggle is to have what society says they should have: a romantic relationship—and to reduce their expectations of others, as psychology recommends. A spiritual approach to their relationship problems would be to joyfully release the idea that the missing qualities are essential from the other person. Instead, each woman would work to discover how she is blocking romance, initiative and sparks. Eventually, she would free these qualities in amounts capable of inspiring two (eros) or 2,000 people (agape). That’s very different than the resigned attitude of “this is as good as it gets.”
I’ve been in a relationship for two-and-a-half years. I let him move into my house. I got him a job and a car. He doesn’t buy me anything, and he never takes me anywhere. I always ask him if he is embarrassed to be seen with me. He goes out sometimes by himself but he never asks me to go with him. Am I wasting my time with this man?
Yes. You can’t buy love, so stop trying. You’ve become his sugar mama, a relationship based in an imbalance of power and full of control and obligation but not genuine love. You both deserve better. Stop asking him if he is embarrassed by you. It reveals your low self-esteem, which is why you believe you must Santa Claus him into caring about you in the first place. Hey, what would your relationship be like if you stopped parenting him? Who would you become if you poured all of that energy into your own life?