You might as well face it, you're addicted to love. Or sex. Or it could happen.
We fall into these bad habits because our search for a mate grows so complicated that we will do almost anything to make it easier. Moreover, our deepest sexual fantasies can interfere in our hunt for that ideal partner. We track, test and bed our alpha dates - and still, we misread them. But when faced with a tricky situation, we often get passive; so much so that many of us have a hard time knowing what we feel. How can we ever really know how we relate to ourselves and how others relate to us?
Countless clients have reiterated the same problem: "I enjoy the sex so much that it takes me a while to realize that my partner is doing nothing to reciprocate the energy."
If you find yourself facing this challenge: Stand back and observe his behavior. Let a few days go by. If he doesn't call, then he's just not that into you, and that's foreshadowing everything ahead in the relationship. If a partner is selfish in bed, that is an indicator of how he'll be elsewhere.
One author I admire, therapist Robert P. Jacoby, has outlined in his book The Map to Love: How to Navigate the Art of the Heart something that he calls The Game of Love. The scenario he offers is one I find particularly inspiring. In The Game of Love, you have four choices. Either you can: Play Love, Cheat Love, Deceive Love or Quit Love. And his conclusion is that the only way to win is to Play.
Cheating in love is a form of relationship destruction that speaks for itself. We all know what this means; we've all been tempted.
Deceiving in love creates suffering. By lying, you only perpetuate the abuse inflicted at some tragic juncture, which will never heal unless you can summon the courage to play truthfully in The Game of Love.
To Quit love is to retreat from intimacy and relationships altogether, convincing yourself that you don't need love, or that your career alone will fulfill you. This is a cunning self-deception that mirrors the belief that the 'here and now' is all there is. It is accompanied by a sense of hopelessness.
The winning strategy, and your only hope, is to PLAY love and keep playing. This option is characterized positively to encourage you to be at one with yourself and aware of the ever-present moment. Playing the game of love is described by Jacoby as quickly transforming pain into love.
Faith, courage, passion and patience reward these players.
The Game of Love is a new mindset to be navigated, all the same. Women may be better prepared by millennia of experience, as the female mindset is so primarily emotional and intuitive. Men have a lot to learn in both areas.
I asked Robert Jacoby, "What are the excuse cards that men play?"
He replied: "The one that's always worked for me is, 'I thought I was ready, but I'm not.'"
More seriously, he laid out the phrases many men use when they're dodging the challenge of love:
"'I have stuff to work through from the last time I was hurt.' or, 'This has been wonderful, I do love you, but the little voice in my head says this isn't going to work out.'" He goes on to explain: "I have found in my practice, when working with other men, that inspiring them to trust their emotional intuition is an important breakthrough. When reality provides you with data to validate your intuition, that's huge."
The challenge is to learn to trust intuition implicitly. Trust it to either reinforce the relationship or help you leave gracefully.
I asked Robert what insight he might have for women. Men so often misread the signals, when they're sexually aroused. What is the most painful confusion other men have revealed to him?
"Women have to evaluate what they're looking for," he answered. "By emphasizing men's lust-driven side, you're describing a boy, not a man. There is a huge difference between men and boys. My advice to other men is: 'If you're feeling attraction on a spiritual level as well as a sexual level, slow down. Don't ruin it by going for sex. Get enough information as to where this is going to go.'"
Relationships are like a business. No matter what, you have to step back and evaluate. You have to ask: What are the communications here? What are the finances? What is the maturity? What are the character traits? No matter how passionate you may be about a potential business deal, you'll need to take a hard look. The same is true in love. Say to yourself: 'We've had a great beginning. Now let's stand back.'
The great difficulty of staying in the game is the constant risk of burn out. Selfish lovers thrive on other people's pain. And, if you're the prodigal giver, recognize your addiction to this masochism. It starts with you acknowledging your pain. Try breaking the cycle, by declaring out loud: "My partner is selfish in love."
We crave attachments and instinctively seek connection. There is nothing dysfunctional about wanting love. My conclusion is that the only doctor that can cure emotional pain is time. For the heart to heal, you can't rush it. The only thing that will heal you is a change of perspective. You have to look at the pain in a new way.
Even when we think we just want sex, people are looking for love. Pain is information. Pain is the heart opening, the heart stretching.
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Suzannah's work work is about giving individuals (like you!) dynamic insight into what agonizes them most and offering breakthrough solutions. She offers instant, real-time solutions to what troubles her clients -- all delivered with a large shot of compassion. Schedule an Appointment Today.
Suzannah Galland is an internationally acclaimed life advisor and influencer for mindful living. Suzannah contributes invaluable Quick Insights to the Huffington Post blog, and writes regularly for Harper's Bazaar, Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop.com and Spread the Light for KORA Organics by Miranda Kerr. Visit her website or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram for more Insights to Keep You in The Know.