There’s perhaps no shadow more painfully destructive and limiting in modern relationships than the need for so-called balance.
When we approach our intimate relationships with the need for “balance” we essentially doom it from the start. We set up an equation where there will always be someone underserved and undernourished. Someone taking too much and someone giving too little.
We invite a shitty game of scorekeeping where victory itself bleeds us dry and rewards us with the sting of resentment.
A relationship hellbent on achieving balance and homeostasis will always crumble. For there will always be indebtedness — there will always be a victim — someone who was “sold too short” and someone who “took too much”.
Yet the burden of balance has been a long persisting paradigm.
In Steven Covey’s Seven Habits, he introduces the idea of an “emotional bank account”. One that tracks deposits and withdrawals based on the actions of our partner. In Gary Chapman’s Love Languages, he speaks of the different currencies of love we’re able to give and receive.
Each model, while temporarily useful, keeps us locked in a paradigm of “balance” where love is reduced to a finite resource and a currency that can be used in a dysfunctional game of give and take we call “relationship”.
But your relational books will never be “balanced”. And if you make your happiness and willingness to love contingent upon it, you’re going to suffer. You’re going to water the seeds of resentment while atrophying your innate capacity to live as a constantly flowing expression of unimpeded love.
In the game of balance we weaponize our love and affection. We reduce it to a constantly depreciating currency — and limit it further by turning it into a fixed “thing” that we can control.
We withhold it when we’re angry or when we feel the need to punish our partner. And in doing so, our love gets distorted and disfigured as it passes through the jagged lens of petty vengeance and selfish pride.
Likewise, we offer our love as a reward or as a bargaining chip. A means to a fruitless end. We dangle it like a rotting dog treat, offering to drop it only if our partner meets an ever-shifting set of conditions. Conditions that we ourselves remain unconscious to. In all these cases, we’ve taken the most powerful force of life herself and weaponized it in the name of ‘balance”. An unbearably high price to pay for relational homeostasis.
Birthed from this need for balance is the fallacy of reciprocity.
Where we wait to be seen, heard, appreciated or loved before we feel safe in reciprocating with the same gifts. So we each withhold. We hoard our love. We hold our own happiness and love hostage out of fearful pride — and feel victimized when our partner fails to provide these things.
Yet when we insist on the need for our partner to act first, we become kamikaze pilots steering our hearts into inevitable doom.
On a subtle level, we communicate to ourselves and our partners that we’d rather crash and burn in needless destruction and heartache than pull up to gain higher perspective. We bring each other down for the sake of pride. And it all runs counter to that which you truly are.
For you are not a beggar. You are a king.
Know the difference, but more importantly live and act the difference.
If you’re feeling unseen, unheard, unappreciated, unloved or uncared for — you’re invited to assume full ownership. Chances are you’re complicit in blocking the dynamic exchange of these qualities.
Start by offering yourself the love, appreciation and compassion you desire, and from that place of sheer overflow, offer it to all those around you. Especially your partner.
The call is to become so abundant in your offering of these gifts that they become the signature of your relationship — and one that your partner feels a deep call to harmonize with.
Just like a tuning fork will automatically resonate at the same frequency as the one previously struck, you have the power and opportunity to initiate that first strike at all times. It’s simply the burden of balance that insists on the other making the first move.
The greatest cure to the burden of balance and its stinging undertones of guilt and resentment , is to come from a place of wanting to gift your love. Not a half-hearted “wanting” but a full-bodied desire.
What experiences do you want to gift your partner? What do you want them to feel? What do you want them to get to enjoy in your presence? How can you make her life with you more powerful, healing, expansive and restorative than life without you?
Most importantly, does the prospect of gifting your partner these things excite you and fill you with life and energy? Or does it feel like an undue burden?
So many people ask — when should a relationship come to an end? The answer is far simpler than many relationship experts make it out to be.
Whether induced by a verbal death punch or by decades of suppressed pain, a relationship will have reached its natural end when either partner no longer desires gifting their partner the love, patience, reverence, compassion, intimacy and encouragement to evolve in his/her chosen path.
When this gifting becomes a compromise, a burden, or a constant struggle, it may very well be time to release yourselves both from that dynamic and enter a period of self-renewal before re-entering this fire.
Until then, the invitation is to be that gift.
To be the first striking of the match.
To be the torch that lights all others.
And to dance and play and relish in the shared flames that only you and your partner can create.