The Art of Responding

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By MARYMICHELLE LOTANO

How do you respond in the world? To friends, family, spouses, lovers? Do you take your time, letting that text message sit, unattended? Are you compulsive, sometimes answering before you’ve even thought about what you are saying? Do you reciprocate communication by doing your fair share of the calling to say hello or to invite someone to spend time with you? Do you do a better job with some people than with others, knowing if you don’t respond to some, they will still be there when you decide to engage?

The give and take of ongoing communication is the key to success; it can mean the difference between a living connection and the death of a perfectly beautiful relationship. When we fall into a pattern of believing someone we love will always answer our call, yet let our responsibility to respond or initiate slide, we risk everything, including trust, joy, attention, friendship, loyalty and love.

With every text that goes unanswered, with every call log that has only outgoing calls, with every email that is read but left unacknowledged, a tiny piece of the sender falls away from the connection to the receiver. An opportunity is lost.

But we rarely consider these consequences. We tend to believe that since communication is now so instantaneous, anyone we desire to be in touch with will remain forever connected to us. It is virtually impossible for people to get away from one another. Our telephone numbers are automatically saved, our email addresses are available for public consumption and our address is sold for the price of $7.50. Why would we need to concern ourselves with losing touch with anyone, even those we aren’t necessarily wild about?

While this is all very true, one thing has not changed. The art of being in a relationship with another human being has not undergone the technology metamorphosis. A relationship is still a relationship. It requires spoken communication and demands attention. Its feelings get hurt. It wants to laugh in unison, cry inside of another’s arms and celebrate with smiles that sparkle through our cheeks.

To maintain a real heart felt connection to the people we love, we have to remember they can walk away from us. Yes, that’s right. Regardless of the fact that we can electronically tap them anytime we like, day or night, they do not have to respond. We can be left behind.

In order to preserve all we cherish with each other, we have to be willing to do the most interesting of dances to create, maintain and grow in love and in balance with one another. Over the years, this relational equilibrium has been studied ad infimum. But the simplest and the most applicable learning is a short book called The Seeker and The Sought. This beautiful explanation of what it takes for a relationship to survive is a gem. If the advice given is taken with interest and willingness, success is imminent. When implemented consciously and with great care, our relationships with each other can glide smoothly through the steps of life, allowing both people the opportunity to lead and to equally be needed.

The balancing factor of the seeker and the sought is premised on both people playing the two roles intermittently and interchangeably. We all love to be chased and admired. We also all enjoy seeking out those we have an unshakable interest in. But we cannot survive in a relationship if one person does all of the chasing and the other person absorbs all of the attention. Instead, the roles need to be shared, up and down, back and forth, always being exchanged between the two participants. Hence, one partner will seek the other. The partner being reached out to then enjoys being desired. Then the roles will switch and the one being sought will seek. The key is knowing how to share the need to lead versus the joy of being wanted. The balance allows us to build trust, experience joy, share attention, give meaningful friendship, practice loyalty and nourish love.

When this delicate balance is upended, one person can be left resentful and lonely, constantly striving for attention. The other person can feel the need to escape the confines of the ongoing emotional seeking. But when either person is able to return to the midway, the balance can be restored and the dance can proceed with loving attention in both directions.

Today, consider taking your partner’s hand with the mindset that equally seeking and being desired is a dance that can last a lifetime.

ShelliAuthor of Circles of the Soul, Marymichelle Lotano has explored the areas of personal growth, meditation and art. Ms. Lotano is currently a full time writer and mother, residing in Carlsbad, California. Visit: circlesofthesoul.net.

 
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