Originally Posted by booklady78
In many ways, he is a loving and kind partner, very thoughtful and generous . . . being there for me emotionally is not usually possible.
I want to be selfless, to be my bfs partner but it seems that he is not able to offer himself to me in the same way. I know that relationships aren't 50-50 and I'm not naive enough to believe they even should be.
. . . He wants to be loved, as all of us do, but he isn't capable of offering love in return - not in the way I sometimes need.
You're right in saying that relationships aren't 50/50. They are 100/100. What I mean is that each person is 100% responsible for their own part in the relationship, and we all give 100% of what we're capable of giving. It may not seem like he is giving the same as you are, but maybe it is simply that he is giving 100% of what he is able to give, and that the conflict may be coming from how you look at it. Sure, he may be holding back, hesitant to commit more, and perhaps even being lazy about what he can give, but still that is part and parcel of who he is and being 100% true to himself. It is always a challenge to accept something that does not fit into our mental pictures of how we think things should be, but that doesn't mean it isn't working or beneficial to you both just the way it is.
It seems you want a sense of balance and equal give-and-take in this relationship. Equanimity, a mental state of "evenness," is about having emotional stability, satisfaction, and a feeling of composure -- but that comes from awareness and acceptance of what is present in our lives at the moment. Finding that sense of equanimity in relationships is not necessarily about each person giving the same.
Whether poly or mono, we all hold onto fantasies about relationships. But our fantasies aren't always what's best for us, or rather, they are not always better than what we've already got. I am trying to deal with that now, with a fairly new relationship, only two months old, and I also have an internal conflict between how I think it should be and how it is, and sometimes this is directly due to his illness. Recently, I am realizing he is as present and alive and giving to me as he can possibly be, even though I sometimes "think" it should be more, and more, and more. I think I have just entered a stage of acceptance about this relationship and it feels pretty good to have that. The fact remains that we have a good time together, care about each other, he feels good about who he is when he's with me, and I feel good about who I am when I'm with him.
I have always believed that that
is the true measure of if a relationship is working or not -- it isn't about how it fits into certain parameters I've dreamed about, it's about how I am affected by it and how I feel about myself when we're together. Do I feel satisfied with what is? And is my esteem in good shape when I'm with someone? Of course, only I am responsible for my self-esteem, but there are toxic people or situations that can chip away at it. And enough disappointments can erode my satisfaction. But the big question for me is always, do I feel okay about myself when I'm with someone? And if I'm not, how much of it is a number I'm doing on myself, and how much is it something he is doing? If the scales start tipping away from feeling well in myself, satisfied, having equanimity, and toward the direction of feeling shitty about myself, whether my problem stems from my own mental processes or something the other person is doing, then I know there is trouble and something that needs to be changed.