I Don’t Give Relationship Advice

don't give relationship advice
Photo by Inga Seliverstova

I don’t give relationship advice, but I had a conversation with a woman the other day that came pretty close.

A mutual friend of ours referred her to me. The first thing I said when they arrived on my doorstep was, of course, “No. I don’t give relationship advice.”

Nevertheless, my friend insisted that it would benefit the lady if I offered an alternative perspective. She had already tried to advise her, and the lady was still unsure.

When the lady began to tell me her story, I quickly realized why my friend had brought her to me.

“My partner can go too long without seeing me” was the line she opened with.

I smiled into my spoon of Nutella. It was all too familiar. She thought I was grinning at her situation, and I quickly apologized, assuring her that I wasn’t laughing at her.

She began to tell me all about how he was an amazing and loving man. But she wanted to see him more often. She had stayed in the relationship without saying anything because she thought he would change on his own, and now she didn’t know what to do because he hadn’t.

“Focus on yourself,” I mumbled. I got too ahead of myself.

A strained, barely cohesive “What?” stumbled out of the woman’s lips.

I reeled it back, starting from the first step in my process: the end game. The desired result. What it was that she really wanted.

“Is your issue about the fact that he doesn’t see you enough?” I began, stretching one hand to the left to signify a distinction in direction. “Or is it that he doesn’t want to see you enough?” Extending my other hand to the right.

“He doesn’t see me enough.” The lady answered too quickly. I knew she didn’t understand the question. If she had fully processed the question, she would have responded differently.

“In that case, the answer is simple.” I shrugged my shoulders. “Your partner sounds reasonable, loving, and generous, so tell him. If you tell him you want to see him more, he’ll see you more. If he doesn’t then, that’s a different problem entirely, but I don’t think it’ll come to that.”

She hesitated. “Wait.” She brought a finger to her lip, nibbling on the skin. “Wait, sorry, can you repeat the first question again?”

I smiled again. “Is your issue that he doesn’t see you or that he doesn’t want to see you?” I asked, emphasizing the word ‘want.’

See, this question throws people off because they don’t understand how vital the difference is. It sounds like the same question twice, but it’s not. The first question pertains to an action or behavior. Whereas the latter is about a desire or a feeling.

If you’re concerned about the action, then there’s a quick-fix solution to the issue. You tell him how you feel, and he’ll adjust his efforts to make you happy. If what you’re concerned about is the desire, then you have a much bigger problem. Because he can’t control his desires and, neither can you.

“So I’ll ask you again. Is your issue that he doesn’t see you or that he doesn’t want to see you?”

The lady nibbled her lip one more time before responding despondently, “he doesn’t want to see me.”

It was as I thought.

“Focus on yourself.” I didn’t mean for it to come out so blunt, but I was far more adept in the business of logic and rationale. I was leaning heavily in my masculine energy.

“Kyra!” My friend hissed, pleading with my feminine.

“I’m sorry, I’ll explain. This is the problem. You can control an action, but you can’t control a feeling. Suppose a religious extremist forces a man to convert to their religion. All they can really do is make them read the bible or force them to recite the Qur’an, but they can’t change the fact that the person doesn’t believe,” I explained. “You can change their outward behavior but not the way they feel towards it.”

“So, what do I do?” She asked in defeat.

“I’ll say this again, and I know I’ve said it twice already, and I know it might be coming across as harsh, and I’m so sorry for that. But focus on yourself. The issue is that you’re too emotionally invested. You have attached to him more than he has attached to you.”

I saw my friend open her mouth to interrupt. “Let me land,” I bargained with her. “You want to see him what? Everyday? Every other day? That is an attachment. I’m not saying he’s not emotionally attached to you. But he only wants to see you once in a blue moon. He is not as attached to you as you are to him.”

The lady asked again, “So, what do I do?” She was a broken record.

“I’ll give you three simple steps.”

One: Realize that everything you need you already have.

Your body is a powerhouse designed with every capacity to restore everything to you that you’re in lack of. You need healing from trauma? You have the power to do that. You need love and affection? You have the power to do that. You need to feel wanted, validated, and appreciated?

The power to do all those things is yours. This means you truly don’t need to rely on anyone else because you come fully equipped with everything you need. So start practicing self-love. There’s no love out there that is better for you than the love you can give yourself.

Two: Figure out what you’re good at and do that. Endlessly.

Notice that I didn’t say figure out what you’re passionate about or what makes you happy – figure out what you’re good at. Again, it sounds like a problematic statement at face value, but this is about self-esteem. It is a real kick to your confidence when you feel as strongly as you do about someone, and it goes unreciprocated.

One of the best ways you build your self-esteem back up is by being really good at something. Anything. And then find a community of people who do that thing too. Allow yourself to be celebrated. Let others aspire to be like you. Be known as that girl who’s really talented at that thing. You’ll also be so busy training, practicing, perfecting your craft that you won’t be focusing on who’s not here.

Three: Be where you’re loved.

There are people who want to be in your company 24/7. Not just from time to time. Not just on occasion. All the time. Go and be with those people. Go where you feel cherished. Go where you feel those around you recognize your value. This is not to say that your partner doesn’t cherish you or acknowledge your worth. All I’m saying is be where you’re made to feel that way the most.

When I was finished, the lady and my friend were silent. They were silent for a while before the lady asked me a question I wasn’t ready for.

“Should I just end it?”

I glanced at my friend, and she glanced back at me.

“I mean I should, right? I should just break up with him.”

“I don’t give that kind of advice,” I said. “I specialize in the self. Self-love, self-worth, self-growth, self-development. When it comes to making decisions involving second parties, I see myself out.”

She was silent again.

“The question you should be asking yourself is can you live with it,” I started again, not being able to turn it off now that I’d started. “Your options are limited to either live with it or not. If you decide you want to live with it… well, I’ve just given you everything you need to be able to do so. But remember, just because you can live with it doesn’t mean you have to.”

She made no further effort to say another word.

“Like I said, if you decide to live with it, those three steps will make it possible to do so. But you don’t have to…”

“I’m going to live with it,” the lady said. But she wasn’t talking to my friend or to me. She was telling herself. “I can live with it.”

I smiled. “Okay then.”

My friend looked disconcerting. “Okay then?”

“Okay then,” I concluded.

The lady had decided to live with it. I’d be lying if I said it was the decision I wanted her to make. But it wasn’t my place to say. I don’t give relationship advice.

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