What do you Want, Love or the Other Thing?

Knowing what you want is one of life’s immense challenges. Often we think we know what we want, only to find out that wasn’t it at all. When entering into intimate or romantic relationships, knowing what you want is critical. Not only will such clarity make engaging in such relationships easier, but it also creates a more honest ground. If you don’t know what you want, then the other person doesn’t know what they are opening to either.

What if the most perfect love does not fit neatly with your plans for sex or marriage?

There’s a big difference between wanting love, wanting sex, and wanting marriage. In many instances these things could be exclusive. In other cases, they are all united. It’s often surprising to discover that what you think you want is actually what society wants for you, or what your upbringing has ingrained in you to want. For instance, marriage isn’t for everyone. That may sound shocking because marriage is so embedded in our culture that it even figures prominently in the tax code. (Note this very amusing detail: the US tax code favors one spouse earning much more than the other, but penalizes couples with equal earnings — the taxman is your enforcer of traditional marriage!) But do you want to be married? Like the real thing. Not the idealized romance-white-picket-fence thing. Do you want to commit to another person for life? Does it even make sense to do so on its own merit?

As for sex… do you really want sex? (With anyone, or is the desire qualified?) Or maybe you want intimacy? It’s possible to share intimacy without sex. It’s possible to have both. How does this fit into marriage? Do you want a monogamous marriage? What would be the advantage of monogamy?

And then there’s love. Many people say they want love, but they aren’t willing to open to it. Love is the most intense commitment of all. But it’s also the most rewarding. Opening to love requires a commitment to look honestly at your own heart and mind. It requires vulnerability. It requires a willingness to meet things as they are. What if the most perfect love does not fit neatly with your plans for sex or marriage?

Spending some time exploring what you really want will lead you into richer, more nourishing relationships. Here are a few tips on how to find out what you want:

  1. Sit with yourself. Quietly. Without your devices. Every day. Feel your feelings.
  2. Journal. Write out your ideal relationship. Be totally honest.
  3. Reflect. Look at what you wrote. Underline everything that may be coming from some external influence and may not be yours. Contemplate what’s left.
  4. Communicate. Talk to your partner or potential partner about your honest thoughts and feelings. Let the discussion open up space for both of you to acknowledge what you want.
  5. Be spacious. Let things arise naturally, and let them dissolve too if it’s their time.

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