Do you give a lot in a relationship and don’t get enough back?

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When I give talks and speak to people on relationships, they often wonder and ask me how a monk can know about relationships, especially as monks don’t have girlfriends.

Well, actually I have a lot of friends. A LOT. I just don’t have a girlfriend. But any relationship gives you opportunities to learn from.

I wrote in an earlier post about how being overly emotional in a relationship can cause problems as emotions are all about you, and just because you feel something for someone doesn’t mean your relationship deserves to be good. Relationships take a lot more than feelings to develop and nurture, and feeling-dependent relationships actually can be more draining and breakable. Good relationships are based on mutual trust, selfless help, and also…. some intelligence. In fact the relationship is more likely to be stronger if both partners are responsible for their own happiness and feelings and not overly dependent on each other.

But here I’m speaking of another extreme. Its when people give too much.

It does sound a bit weird, I know. But think about it. I’ll just write this as a male for simplicity. Say someone just kept giving his girlfriend gifts every day, and always did everything just to please her (You may not be one of these guys or girls, but believe me, there are a lot of people like this out there). He may think that “If I give her a lot of things, then she will like me”. It may also be that he just loves her so much that he just brings her lots of gifts (with all good intentions).

If this goes on for too long, she would then start feeling so overly burdened with the emotional exchange that she will need to have to reciprocate that it would just suck the life out of her. And eventually she would just give up.

And then some guys would think “I did everything for her, and why did she do this to me?”

I think a relationship takes a lot more than just feelings. A person really in love would understand what the other person needs, and doesn’t need and deals with that person in the best possible way for their benefit without any strings attached.

People who take responsibility for their own emotional fulfillment form the best relationships. In other words, they are less emotionally needy.

It doesn’t mean they don’t experience emotions when they’re together…it just means the relationship’s not dependent on feelings. So the relationship doesn’t have to change when feelings do (and they always do). Such relationships are selfless, honest, and last a lifetime. The basis of such a relationship is not one’s emotional need, but the genuine desire to help one’s beloved in the best possible way. This is real love.

What have you learnt from your relationships? Please let me know in the comments below.

Looking at relationships and feelings in a lighter way, here’s a video by Jason Headley. I think it conveys a lot more than its intended to…

Radha Govinda has been living as a monk at Bhaktivedanta Manor for over 8 years now, and is a musician, motivational speaker and a writer. He likes sharing inspirational stories and wisdom from the ancient East and has a passion to encourage people to take up spritual practices. He holds a Master's degree in Mechatronics and worked in Control Systems engineering for Fluor before deciding to take up spiritual life full time as a monk in 2009. He now travels around the country sharing his experiences with people interested in yoga and spirituality.

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