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Question of the Month
By Aron Moss
I am in a serious relationship with a girl I truly love, but there is a blockage that is preventing us from moving forward. She says she thinks I'm a great guy, but for some reason her feelings for me are not as strong as mine are for her. I don't get it. I treat her like a princess, I take her everywhere, I buy her gifts, I do everything to make it work and barely demand anything in return. If love is all about giving, what am I doing wrong?
People often say that love is about giving, giving and giving. But that's not true. Receiving is just as vital to a relationship as giving is. While giving is essential to loving, the ability to receive is what makes us lovable. If you're a great giver, but a lousy receiver, then you may be able to love, but make it hard for yourself to be loved.
You have been led to believe that the more you give, the more you will be loved. So you are left wondering, If I show her how much I care for her by showering her with gifts, if I overwhelm her with my attention, if I smother her with my generosity, then how can she not love me back? Meanwhile, you are missing the real key to her heart - she wants to feel needed.
As long as you are always giving without demanding anything in return, you have not allowed any space for her in your life. That is a one-way relationship, and she is not a real player in it. No wonder her feelings aren't developing! She doesn't just want you to be a giver, she wants you to be a recipient of her love and care. She will grow attached to you when she feels she has an irreplaceable part to play in your life, that for you, life can't go on without her. For that, you have to expose your vulnerability and show her that you really need her.
It can be scary to admit that we have needs, and for many it is far easier to give than to receive. When I give, I am in control, I am calling the shots. But being on the receiving end is to let go of the reins, to concede that I haven't got it all worked out, I have needs and weaknesses, flaws and dependencies. But that is exactly what a relationship is - a healthy interdependence. And that's when you become open to be loved - when you show your dependence.
And no one is so perfect that they don't need anyone to fulfil them. Even G-d says that He has needs - He needs our relationship with Him. The Kabbalists teach that before creation G-d opened an empty space, a void in Himself, and it was within this empty space that He created the universe. So this world, where G-d's presence is hidden, is like a gaping hole in the middle of the Divine self. G-d invites us to fill that void by bringing holiness to the world. It was as if G-d was saying, "I am missing something; but you humans, by entering a relationship with me, can fill My emptiness". If G-d isn't above displaying vulnerability, neither are we.
You have already mastered the art of giving, now learn how to receive. Tell her how lost you are without her, how lonely you are when she isn't around, how much she means to you, how her support and encouragement is what keeps you going. Have the strength to express your weakness. The minute you open that space within yourself, you become lovable.
from the September, 2005 Edition of the Jewish Magazine