In True Love We Trust and Give Space

By John Rocheleau
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claiming space

“Give him space!” Your friends and your intuition have been telling you to relax and chill out. So what can you do? Do you want to learn how to give space? Well, here’s the deal: falling in love is the easy part, but making a relationship work requires trust and understanding way beyond what you think when you start a new relationship.

Your new love; your first love; it is all so intoxicating. Love is all there is, right? So as things of value go, a genuine relationship tops your list of human desires. And when you desire something what do you do? You want to possess it.

But can you actually possess love? If you think you can, does that also mean that you own your lover in the same way as you hold tight to the love you feel? Just think about that for a moment. Each day thousands of relationships die a painful and largely pointless death, because couples mistake their needs and insecurities for genuine love.

What is true love?

Well for starters here are some things love is not. Genuine love has nothing whatever to do with your selfishness, jealously, and possessiveness. You cannot capture love, and you cannot hold the love of your life — your wife or husband, girlfriend or boyfriend — a prisoner of your insecurities. Nor can you rewind and freeze-frame your relationship at some idyllic point in the past or in your imagination. True love is beauty. Not external beauty, but the beauty you will experience when you allow your love — and your lover — to grow and expand. Love is nurtured by giving space.

Every romance must deepen or die. You either support and encourage one another’s growth as individuals, or you restrict and confine one another until there is no life left in your relationship. You get to choose. Learn to trust enough to give mental and physical space to your partner, and you will have a confident and happy relationship.

True love then is unselfish and unconditional. Your love celebrates your lover’s independent growth without the need for you to possess or control. You are confident and happy when your partner discovers new personal power and direction. That is true love. For more thoughts on what constitutes real love, read my article on how to tell if your relationship is true love.

Create trust | give space

If you are wondering why you should trust your lover and give him space (or her), you might ask yourself why you are in a relationship in the first place. If you are in it mainly to possess comfort, sex, money, security, social or even self-acceptance, then love is not on your agenda. You can safely forget about it and continue on your mutual path of self gratification, possession, and power struggles.

But if you are open to finding true unconditional love, then the road passes right through the heart of your selfishness, your jealousy, and your possessiveness — and it emerges on the opposite side. You must navigate these base emotions before you can move your relationship onto higher ground.

Is it difficult? Well, yes it is, but…

If you really care about the person you call your lover — your husband, wife, boyfriend, or girlfriend — you will want them to achieve their absolute best potential, and you will want to give them the space required to make that happen. You both need space to grow as much as you need air to breathe. Neither of you benefits if you smother one another. Trust, and space, are powerful ways to save a dying relationship that has spiralled out of control from being too much in control. So relax, breathe, and trust your partner enough to give him (her) some time and space; some room to grow.

These everyday spaces can be for quiet contemplation, to enjoy a friend’s company, or perhaps to explore personal directions. This space is the creative vortex where you as a couple explore life and create through your differences. Growth cannot exist without space.

Your mutual trust creates the space you embrace within; entwined but separate beings, loving and living within the small but vital distances between you.

How to give space?

You can give him space on many levels. It can be as obvious as physical space, or time space, and it can be as subtle as psychic and emotional space. It all boils down to trust and unconditional love. We all need this type of love, trust, and support to achieve our best.

Just ask yourself: In an ideal world, what freedoms and support would I want from a genuine true love relationship? Now, just claim and extend that freedom and support in your current relationship, to see where it might lead. Let go a bit; test the waters of trust; support your lover’s sense of freedom and enthusiasm as much as your own. Do this, and you will see your relationship heal as you both grow into more complete individuals.

Don’t compete with your partner or try to possess them. Instead, celebrate your individual strengths. Support and encourage the best within each of you.

However you choose to give your partner space, or in what form you ask your partner for this trust and freedom, know that the space you give or receive is directly proportional to your growth as a couple.

The less you try to possess your lover, the more true love you will experience. Give space and be free!

Over to you now…

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36 comments ↓

#1 Jade on 07.21.08 at 6:06 pm

It seems that only rich, secure, independent, strong people can love unconditionally. They can choose partners only from pure love and they don’t need anything from their partners other than love.

If you are constrained, you cannot love purely; if you are shackled, you cannot dance gracefully. I was ever in this kind of situation. It is a depression.

#2 Hope Wilbanks on 07.22.08 at 4:39 am

Nice article! I think a lot of people have a warped sense of what love really is. We give up all too easily, in the name of love. I think most people are in “lust”…not love. Show me a couple who have experienced death of loved ones, financial insecurity, job demise–and still remain together and thrive in their relationship–and then you’ll see what “love” really is. Love never gives up, love never lets down. Love remains, regardless of how tough the going may get. Love blossoms under pressure.

#3 John R. on 07.22.08 at 9:25 am

Jade
I feel what you are saying, but my own experience and observation tells me that unconditional love is just that — it is unconditional. It does not depend on ease of circumstance to develop. It often develops from the most adverse conditions. When a person’s life is not challenged, their ability to love is not tested and refined.

We grow through our depressed times if we can remain aware through it all — and you have. I think that you have learned from your experience, but you are still holding onto bitterness. Replace that with understanding of how that happened, then move forward. It will only snag you otherwise.

Please keep sharing your thoughts with us.

Hope
You said:

“I think most people are in “lust”…not love.”

This is so true — lust and need are more often than not, mistaken for love. A good examination of this is found in J. Krishnamurti’s book, “On Love and Loneliness.”

Thank you for your inspiring comment. I can add nothing more.

John

#4 Nancy on 10.17.08 at 8:59 pm

The hardest thing to hear is that someone you love so deeply, someone who claims that they love you…does not trust you and…your intentions. Please affirm that sadly, this person is unworthy of trust. Although he betrayed me once, I would trust him tomorrw with my life. Perhaps because I know that he can trust me with his. He has given me the gift of seeing inside of his deepest fears…and they stem from his self. I said good bye tonight.

#5 Eleanor on 11.21.08 at 7:01 am

I am loving unconditionally and giving my boyfriend space. He is in the most horrendous situation. He has a 9 month old child with a woman he dated a few times 18 months ago. She controls him by only allowing him access to his son (who he loves so much) providing he does everything she wants. She has threatened to stop it twice. He gives in because he is thinking long term. If he tries to go to court to get access legalised so she can’t make these threats, he knows she will be vindictive enough to poison the child against him – and he doesn’t want the child to go through this, so he stays on good terms with her. It is very hard for me, but I love and respect him. he is so overloaded with her demands sometimes, and juggling his work, parenting when he has the child (she won’t allow him to see me when he has the child) that I don’t pester him – and only get to see him once a week – but usually for about 12 hours then and it’s like having a whole week in one day. Or if we bump into each other in the street and snatch a kiss or a wave. But the problem with giving so much space is, he is getting mixed up in his mind as she is so manipulative and tries to break us up. She has tried everything, and nothing worked, so she now flirts with him and tries to seduce him to try and drive me away knowing I will find it intolerable. He doesn’t react to it, so now she is being more subtle and very very nice to him. I am losing him as he is not the same person when he is with me, because he is having to live a lie, to stay on good terms with her and it is changing him. If he wanted me to let him go, I would, even though I would lose the man I love. But he doesn’t want to lose me. I don’t know what to do to help him. Even if it is kinder to give him up, rather than have him feel torn, it leaves him with no-one who loves him and cares for him, and no support when she blackmails him on occasion. We are kindred spirits – it’s like he is the person I have waited for all my life. I am losing him anyway as when someone gives up their soul to protect a child, their soul is no longer with you and they are a shell of a person. How can I love him best? By giving space it is allowing her to poison his mind and control his life. He is loving his child unconditionally. He is effectively giving up his life so it is not out in the position, when older, of having the Mother poisoning it’s mind. Yet the child will also grow up seeing him give in to unreasonable behaviour all the time and seeing his Father being seemingly weak. Maybe I should love him in spirit and give him up, as then maybe she would have no-one to try and get rid of. But why should he have to stay alone?

#6 John Rocheleau on 11.21.08 at 12:38 pm

Eleanor:

Both you and your boyfriend have decisions to make. Decisions have remarkable power to end uncertainty. Neither of you will last, and certainly not with each other, if you both continue to walk this tightrope.

Your boyfriend needs to decide to either let go of the relationship with his Child, or make it legal. If he makes it legal, there are benefits to the Mother, the Child, and to your boyfriend. It doesn’t have to be adversarial. Making it legal clarifies and enforces the roles played and duties accepted by both parties. If it is approached properly it can work well for everyone.

The problem here, is that roles have not been properly defined, and games are being played as a result.

A Legal agreement would of course would mean he will pay child support. You didn’t mention if he is already doing that of his own accord (the proper thing to do). If he is not, then there is more to this than your comment suggests.

The only two alternatives for him have no future. If he continues to play this game, will he still be a player when the Mother of his child falls in love and marries another man? Where will his relationship with his Child be then? And if he lets the Child go from his life, can he live with that? It shouldn’t take more than a minute for him to know which path to take.

When we speak of giving space in relationships, we are talking about respect for each other, and wanting the absolute best development for each other, according to your personal natures. Giving space doesn’t mean withdrawing your influence and watching while your boyfriend becomes unhappy and “a shell of a person.”

So you must decide to either let this relationship go if you feel it is not worth the trouble, or to try your best to “do right” by all parties.

I can understand how you might feel that this other woman is an adversary and that her intent is not good. But can you empathize with her situation? She is the one with a Child for life from what you described as, a few dates. How do you think she feels? How would you feel? Would you feel let down by yourself or by your lover? Would you feel there needs to be some payback? I am not saying that she was the injured party here. I am saying that the legal route of formalizing the relationship between father, Mother, and Child, is a way to resolve and “own” the parts everyone has played, and is playing, in this drama.

The idea that the Mother can and will poison the Child against his Father if the father sought to legalize his rights, is the fear that needs to be overcome to make the decisions that need to be made.

Could she do that? Yes she could. Will she? It all depends on how the legal procedure is approached. If the Father’s intent is honorable and he is willing to accept his responsibility in support of the raising of his Child, in exchange for a role in his Child’s life, and if the Mother accepts that the Father is well intentioned, is willing and able to offer financial and emotional/relationship support in the raising of his Child, then there could be an amicable agreement that can work well.

The important thing is: there should be no hidden agendas, manipulation, or role playing (no matter how noble).

The space you give to your partner is the space to be fully who they are. If that requires some suggestions from you, then so be it. Don’t be afraid to step up and take a part in this. But if you sense that he is genuinely drawn to this other woman, have the courage and integrity to step down, and to refrain from manipulation.

No one should be “giving up his life” for any reason. Everyone needs to make clear decisions.

Best,
John

#7 Eleanor on 11.21.08 at 2:17 pm

Thank you for your insightsJohn, which have made me think about a few things. I do know the Mother of the child quite well, and she was always trying to pair us off together. When it happened, I think seeing us in love affected her, so she threatened to stop access unless he stayed single, although she has threatened this on a number of occasions before we were seeing each other. Yes I do empathise to a degree, and I know she has her insecurities (understandably), but she is a very aggressive, negative person – she scares most people! I have never been scared of her, but I know she tends to carry out her threats. I agree that he needs to deal with some fears to deal with the situation. His belief that she will poison the child’s mind if he ‘rocks the boat’ is quite valid though – I have been on the receiving end of abusive threats and harrassment (now stopped) and so has he, and she constantly tries to put fears into him about me. I suggested exactly as you did regarding the legal situation (yes it is possible for him to apply just to formalise current access and there is a good chance he will have this agreed, as even if the Mother does not agree, the court decides and he has been involved with the child since birth) that once it is formalised, everyone knows where they are and what to comply with and the child grows up with that structure giving some stability. The problem is – she doesn’t want him to have access legalised as it is her way of being in control. And that’s why he thinks that, if it was awarded, regardless of whether or not she wants it, she would be vindictive enough to turn the child against him. i believe he is right. He copes very well with the fact that he knows the Mother of his child is really a very unpleasant person sometimes. He tries to stay on good terms with her for the child’s sake. He pays child support voluntarily (more than he has to by law), pays for many other things (if he won’t pay she threatens to stop access again). He drives her to the airport when she goes to stay with her boyfriend, and is expected to drop everything at short notice if she wants him to drive her somewhere. Like you, i think it would be better for everyone if the access was formalised and boundaries set, so the position is more equal.Her current rules are designed to stop him seeing me. In some ways I can understand that she sees him having a relationship as a threat, especially if it was serious. He has to pay child support by law so it can’t be a financial threat (I’m not interested in him for money! He doesn’t have anything left! And i support myself and am unable to have children, so him having another child to support isn’t an issue either). I think it is a bit of jealousy. She doesn’t have the commitment she wants from her boyfriend, and I think seeing us in love must have been hard too, but I think also she can’t bear the idea of us being a couple with her child on occasion. So the situation is – he has to choose between the child and his girl-friend – which is tearing him apart. yet if push came to shove, the child has to come first. He was adamant he doesn’t want to go through the courts, that he has to do it the amicable way, so he can keep an eye on the child. I don’t have a problem with him helping her out sometimes – I’d do it myself if allowed! I think her biggest fear is that her child might love some other woman more than her (unlikely i think – a step-parent is not the same as a Mother). I am a responsible person – a former nurse and some teaching, so am not a problem as regards being around children – maybe too much of a threat. So I know all the issues – it is what to do. I agree about decisions. He has made his – not to do something legal without her agreement (which she won’t give). I don’t want to let him go unless he wants me to, which he doesn’t, and the irony is, parly why he is managing to cope with her demands is because he has me in his life. He says he has become used to living on a knife edge and is pragmatic about it. I am finding it hard. My gut instinct is to say – this needs to be sorted legally (as an unmarried Father he doesn’t have automatic rights to access and has to apply for it), but I do understand his point about how vindictive she would be if she has that power taken away from her and how damaging the nastiness would be to the child. I love him very much – we have something – that feeling that, this is the person i have waited for all my life (and it’s been a long wait!). But am beginning to see – that’s how it would have been if he had not had a child and this situation. But he has, and dealing with her is affecting his behaviour with me now. Yes I should either back off, or stand up and say and do the right thing. Every time I think about backing off, I can’t. We are so happy when we are together and can forget everything for a day. But he is a nervous wreck. I asked him if he wants me to stop seeing him so he has less pressure from her and he says no. I can see how hard it is for him to make that decision, but the current situation means we are neither on or off, and i sometimes feel like a secret mistress which Im not happy with. So if I stand up and do and say the right thing – what do I do? I get stuck. Sometimes I get angry that we are both being put in this position and feel powerless, and wish she would put her energies into something else and just let us all get on with our lives. He thinks she might be coming round a bit, so we are giving it a bit of time (the alternative of breaking up upset us both too much). I doubt she will come round – and yes i do feel nervous wondering what the next tactic will be. She tried making him break it off with me (told him lots of horrible things about me that weren’t true, which he didn’t believe, but of course it puts negative stuff into someone’s head and he had doubts for a short time), tried to get me to break off with him by making it impossible to see each other for about three weeks, and getting him to go round every week-end for dinner – hoping i would find it intolerable and break off with him. Initially I did, but decided to ignore it and looked forward to the couple of hours we had arranged for later in the week. I am actually quite scared that she might try to seduce him next. I suppose i can hope she is coming round to the idea as he says is possible, but I agree with you that there is almost some sort of game going on. Personality-wise, this lady is extremely competitive, a bit spoilt and has very high self-esteem – and she likes to be the centre of attention – she is also a bully and not someone to get into a disagreement with. he is a kind, quiet man, but a bit too trusting sometimes and not very assertive – and has a rather lovely way of seeing the best in everyone. not sure how to describe myself (stupid?!!). Apologies for rambling. i really liked your way of loooking at it all (I feel stressed by it sometimes and my feelings blind me a bit I think). I feel I was getting somewhere while writing all this out, but still a bit stuck.

#8 Eleanor on 11.21.08 at 2:26 pm

PS I know how it must sound when I describe this lady, but her behaviour is the same in other situations too. She has alienated a lot of people – even people who helped her a lot through various things. She expects a lot from people, but if anyone says no they can’t do something that day eg she sends a barrage of abuse, usually by text message. I sometimes wish bullying was an imprisonable crime. Standing up to her is not an option.

#9 John Rocheleau on 11.21.08 at 4:43 pm

Eleanor:

I don’t think I can add to what I have already said in response. I feel the same decisions are still waiting to be made, regardless of how complex the situation may look. The closer you examine something, the more intricate and detailed it will appear. Sometimes, you just have to step back a bit to gain perspective to see it for what it is.

Perhaps another reader has been down a similar road and can share their insight. What about it? Anyone?

#10 Eleanor on 11.21.08 at 5:51 pm

Thank you for your wisdom again. Yes I am getting caught up in intricacies.

#11 Helen on 11.30.08 at 4:20 am

Hi, Firstly, what a great site! Just found it today and enjoying reading it very much.

On the topic of giving space, I agree with the need for it. I personally dislike feeling smothered in a relationship, and quite frankly, it can get boring and stale without outside interests and friendships.

On the other hand, the thing that prompted my searching on the web is my own struggle with possessive feelings right now. I have come out of a long term relationship that had totally lost all intimacy (it had been no more than friendship for years!). We are still good friends, and always will be. The twist is that I met a man online early this year and we became good friends through shared interests. We met via an online community (not a dating service). As the friendship progressed, we branched out into other interests and began spending a lot of time playing cards, joking, talking about life etc. We share a lot of things in common in our view of the world.

The problem is, he is quite a bit younger than me (14 years my junior). This strange dynamic has triggered all kinds of insecurities in me that I feel are a challenge to overcome. We met in Europe and spent 3 weeks travelling, and it was great! He is now moving to my country next year to study his PhD.

For the first time, I feel obsessive. I don’t like it, it’s confusing and I know it will impact negatively on our relationship. It’s almost like.. too much (physical) space has had a negative effect. I feel I need to overcome these challenges within myself and accept the joy of this relationship, for however long it may last. For us, space is not the problem, but I don;t know what is!

Any thoughts would be helpful in managing this transitional period.

Thanks

#12 John Rocheleau on 12.01.08 at 2:50 pm

Hi Helen,

Thanks for sharing your situation and feelings.

All relationships begin with your relationship to yourself, so I advise to begin there. You might ask yourself a few questions. Some that come to mind are:

  • Do you feel that you have wasted some of your best years in a friendship disguised as a romance? Are you secretly bitter about this?
  • Was the lack of depth in your past relationship the real reason you found it easy to give and accept space?
  • Do you feel a deep and easy connection in this new relationship? Is this different from any other relationship you have been in?
  • Has the ease of this new relationship while it was online and in the European vacation mode, vanished, now that he is moving his residence close to you?
  • Does it now seem more permanent, and does that trigger fears of losing what he brings to you?
  • 14 years of age difference is significant. Do you project that the relationship may go long-term, and fear that you will age visibly before he does, and he will leave you ? If you value the new-found depth of this relationship, this can certainly trigger feelings of possessiveness and fear of loss (I am 9 years younger than my Wife by the way. We have been married for 34, not without challenge, years)
  • Are you certain that your attraction to this younger man is not your attempt to recreate your past in the image of what it should have been, had you not spent those years with a romantic partner that turned out to be just “good friends?” Is his age a coincidence, or does it connect to a need within you in these regards?

You began your comment with the thought that you were feeling possessive, and you ended it with the feeling that you were being obsessive.

Possessive and obsessive feelings are spawned by perceived needs. Your conceptions of your needs are greatly influenced by your last relationship — and that was unfulfilled.

This lack of satisfaction in the last relationship exaggerates your need to be satisfied in this relationship. Couple that with distance (the fear he may find someone else), and the age difference between you (the fear that you will become less attractive to him), and your feelings become very natural and understandable.

I think you should congratulate yourself on being open to a better relationship. You should also cut yourself some slack on how you feel about what you are feeling. I think you have to put things into perspective and try to extend some genuine understanding to your yourself about why you feel as you do.

What you feel now is transitory; it is not a life-sentence. Honor the past and all your past relationships, but let go of guilt feelings and self-recrimination. You have nothing to fear and everything to gain from enjoying this new relationship.

It is never a loss when you share yourself deeply, easily, and unreservedly, with someone you love — regardless of how long it lasts. It will always be true, because you truly loved and shared. Our capacity to love never dies though our loved ones may move on.

The important thing is to be able to love without strings attached; to know that love is the expression of the beauty and power within us, that we direct to the beauty and power within others.

I hope this helps somehow,

John

#13 Helen on 12.02.08 at 4:38 am

Hello John,

Thank-you so much for taking the time to reply to my post.

You raise some interesting points, some of which I have thought about, and some that were perhaps beneath consciousness. I think that your point about one’s relationship with one’s self is an important one. Mine is not perfect, but neither is it in a state of disrepair. To be honest, yes, I do feel as if there are some ways that I feel I have wasted some time and yet, there were also experiences gained from that past relationship that were important things for me to learn. I think that my ex-partner also gained much from our time together. I don’t think it was a lack of depth, per se, but rather our depths were different in nature. We just didn’t connect on some fairly core elements for each of us.

The ease of the new relationship… interesting, as I reflect, it has not been all easy, we have had some disagreements, but what I like, is our ability to work through these, which is incredibly refreshing and rare. We never leave anything “hanging” in the air, no matter what the topic matter. This has strengthened our connection immeasurably, as it has an aura of trust and respect about it.

After writing the above, I spent some time in deep contemplation and tried to be open to what is driving this anxious feeling I’ve been having, and I think that a part of it may definitely be due to the age difference, as I feel a strong sense of responsibility to prevent damage to this beautiful person. How easy it would be for me to assume that I know best, or have more experience, and thus to impose my own “will” unfairly.

I am unsure of whether I have attracted this young man by coincidence or not, however there was another “age appropriate” who was romantically interested in me shortly after I met this one, and he was lovely, but terribly immature. It is possible that the contrast between the two clarified for me what I did NOT want to be part of a future relationship. When I think back, it all seems quite fateful. The full history of this meeting goes back over a few years of coincidences. “When the pupil is ready, the teacher appears…..”

The depth of this relationship is real, and I am not afraid of him finding someone else right now. If I truly honour his own growth, then it may be that he will need to move on at some point. Perhaps there is a part of myself that is defensive against that very possible outcome, far too much ahead of time.

I know in my heart that this man is unique and very special, and I do feel honoured that he wishes to share some of his life with me. He is very bright, kind and sensitive, and rather intuitive too. There will be a great sense of loss if/when he decides to move on. There will also be a sense of joy and gladness in my heart for having known him that will outlive the grief.

I think I am simply afraid to trust the future (and deal with my own perceived future pain) and must learn to appreciate the splendour of the present more fully, which is really the only thing that the future is built on.

Thank you for the gift of your wise words and insights.

May peace be with you always,

Helen.

#14 John Rocheleau on 12.02.08 at 12:00 pm

Hi Helen,

You have a beautiful and orderly way of expressing yourself. The reader cannot help but “get” what you are saying. You cover all the bases in your explanation of how you think about how you feel. You are blessed with a very capable mind, and an expansive spirit. You and your new partner are in for some wonderful times.

Sometimes though, capable minds such as yours (and mine), are adept at using that capacity to see and articulate connections that satisfy us intellectually, in order to protect us from getting down and dirty in the soup of raw emotion.

I say that because I notice whenever you identify with a possible source of your dilemma, you quickly balance that thought, starting with the words “yet,” or “but.”

And though those thoughts may be valid, I wonder if they also keep you from diving into and owning the initial thought you started with.

A very close friend of mine once said, “John, get your “but” out of the way.” And I “got” it. She was right. I was using my mind’s ability to explain things away. It all made perfect sense — but it was really my way to avoid the pain of confronting and owning the real issues.

You ended your response with:

“I think I am simply afraid to trust the future (and deal with my own perceived future pain)”

So maybe the final questions (since we began with questions) for you are:

  1. Is your fear of trusting the future really that “simple?”
  2. What is this pain that you perceive you will experience in the future?

I’ve really enjoyed your thoughts Helen. I hope you see my challenge as an opportunity to explore further.

Best,
John

#15 Helen on 12.03.08 at 1:36 pm

Hello again John,

My fear of trusting the future is as simple as being afraid of being alone at times when I desire a close connection with someone special. I usually spend a lot of time by myself by choice, however there is a difference between “alone” and “lonely”. I think this current relationship dynamic intensifies these feelings because I sense from the outset that it will not be a long term relationship, even though that is what I hope for.

And yes, you are correct, I do tend to intellectualise my feelings as a coping strategy. I am working up the courage to just be able to sit in them, as intense as they are, and find some kind of acceptance of that.

You have inspired me to face this challenge and I am so glad to have had the opportunity to have my thoughts questioned in such a gentle and non-judgemental way.

Thank-you once again,

Helen :)

#16 Helen on 09.02.09 at 5:28 pm

Hello John,

I was reflecting over the last year when I returned to read your words once again. I thought you might be curious as to the outcome so far.

I tried hard to put my fears aside and enjoy fully this relationship for what it is. What has manifested is truly wonderful. We are very happily together and expecting the birth of our child, a beautiful boy, in November. I have never conceived before, despite trying, so I really feel that somehow things are in harmony for us in the world (since I was NOT trying and still this momentous event occured!).

I could not have dreamed for a better outcome and we are both growing together, sharing new experiences together and experiencing a profound and respectful love of the kind I had only ever dreamed of. Our families accept our relationship and have been loving and supportive and most of our friends are happy for us also.

He is a wise and beautiful man, and somewhere in amongst all the pain of the past, I must have earned what I have now. He will be an amazing father and I am looking forward to our future adventures and challenges together.

Yours in peaceful contentment,

Helen.

#17 John Rocheleau on 09.03.09 at 11:24 am

Hello Helen,

I’m so glad to hear that it all worked out just as it should. Good for you for having the courage and faith to drop your fears.

And you have a Son in the making. Well how cool is that? A big congratulations to you both.

:-)
John

#18 Zen Moments – noodles on 12.27.11 at 3:07 pm

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#19 mick on 01.31.12 at 1:29 pm

what happens to pure love when friends interfere in your relationship and it all seams as they transpire to break up something thats growing? together we sucseed divided we fall ? me and my partner met through lies and deceite from dying relationships! i am possesive i admit but i love her when we are apart a peice of me is missing and i want to know she is ok ! any help greatly recieved thank you

#20 John Rocheleau on 01.31.12 at 3:52 pm

Hey Mick,

If your friends are trying to break up your relationship, a few things you should do are:

  1. Ask your friends why they think you should split up. Do they see something that you don’t? If so, consider their viewpoint.
  2. If they are off base, then it’s time to thank them for their concern and gently tell them to butt out. It would be a shame to lose friends over this, so try and communicate with them so that they understand.
  3. When you get this friends interference thing sorted out, your relationship will be on firmer, smoother ground (assuming you decide to remain in it).You can then try to work on that feeling of possessiveness.

It’s tough to cope with a bunch of things at once Mick, so sort out the immediate problem of your friend’s interference, then work to build your relationship. It takes time to build trust and be able to give space, but working on it together over time is how you develop understanding and deeper love.

Best wishes,
John

#21 LJ on 02.22.12 at 3:51 pm

Thanks so much for writing this. I found this in my search to try to understand the love I have had in my life for 6 years. Our relationship, although never meaning to fall into this, became one in where we spent most of the time together, the last 4 years living together. Last year she hinted in how we seem to be more like friends and less of a couple. We would bicker a lot but never any serious fights that would prompt us to break-up. My partner has been going through a lot, dealing with the death of her father and never having any personal space, as well as not having any friendships (she seemed to go from relationship to relationship). Now she is asking for space, a break, saying she doesn’t want to be in a relationship right now. She wants to rediscover herself and be free. She has been depressed over guilt in feeling this way and hurting me. However, she still doesn’t want to say ‘break-up’ perhaps to spear my feelings and yet the mention of me dating others doesn’t sit well with her. She wants space. I completely understand and respect that. She has also mentioned that when she starting seeing me more as a friend, it came with feelings of not feeling ‘in love’. She says she needs space right now to herself and she does feel that she can find that feeling again but that she needs time to find herself.

We live together and it’s hard for me. We decided to sleep in separate rooms however a new friend has come in her life and I can’t help but feel jealous and I started to act selfish from fears. Can you offer any advice on how to deal with this. She was my first true love and I love her very much and she says she loves me also. She says this break is a good thing for us (and i know deep down it was needed since we started to take each other for granted, also during these 6 years we never had any time to miss each other because we were always together!) We built a great relationship and I thought the trust was there but maybe it was so easy to trust because we were always by each other. I always believed in our love and now because this new friendship of hers, which is probably innocent,(and she has mentioned she has no intention of ever leaving me for another relationship, if anything she wants to be alone) I am acting very selfish and I just don’t know what to do. I know this will only push her away.

thanks for listening.

#22 QQ on 02.25.12 at 7:52 am

It has been 2 years and 4 months for me and my boyfriend being together. As any other couple, maybe he is getting bored with this relationship. He doesn’t allow me to see his blackberry, then I found he cheated on me. He went to a club and had some ‘fun’ with another girl. I also read his romantic text to another girl, and still I forgive him. What can I do to make him fall in love with me again for the second time? Actually it’s hard for me to trust him again, and I always have a negative thoughts of him. What should I do? I really love and don’t wanna lose him.

Editor’s note: Slightly edited for clarity

#23 John Rocheleau on 02.25.12 at 12:46 pm

LJ,

Thanks for writing and expressing yourself so clearly. It sounds like your partner is less sure of the romantic relationship than you are. Your girlfriend may have difficulty knowing exactly what she feels and how to express that to you.

She might be feeling: “I love you, but I am not IN LOVE with you.” If this is true, how can she tell you without hurting you and feeling guilty, and if that isn’t the issue–what is? She is emotionally torn. She needs the space to see clearly how she really feels. That seems obvious from what you have shared. Will that space create clarity for you both as a couple, or will it move your relationship into the “loving friend” category? You won’t know until you give her that space.

One thing is certain though: the only true relationship you can ever have with this woman is on the other side of that space. This is what unconditional love is all about. There is zero value in hanging onto what has been, just because it is comfortable and familiar. Let go, move past your fears, and celebrate change to see what doors it might open. Do it with love and the result will be life affirming for you both.

Best,
John

#24 John Rocheleau on 02.25.12 at 1:46 pm

Dear QQ,

Here’s the deal: you cannot make anyone fall in love with you, even if it is for the second time, if indeed it was love to begin with.

The facts as you stated them:

  1. After 2 years and 4 months he is bored with the relationship
  2. He is secretive
  3. He has cheated on you with at least two other girls
  4. You don’t trust him
  5. You always feel negatively towards him
  6. You don’t want to lose him
  7. You want to MAKE HIM fall in love with you again

Read that list a few times, and hopefully you will see that there is nothing there to fight for, except for some self understanding. Why would you want to CAPTURE this man that you do not trust and feel so negatively about? If he is not able to love you in the way that you envision love to be, then let him go.

You cannot force, coerce, or seduce him to be your man. Manipulation may work that way, but love does not. So if it is love that you want, I strongly suggest that you let go of this guy and renew your relationship with yourself. Think back to when you were a child and get in touch again with that person. In your heart, you know your finest qualities. Let her be your guide. Claim some space for yourself now to do this, and everything else will fall into place.

Best,
John

#25 conflicted on 03.12.12 at 7:30 am

Hello John,

This is a great article and I found it because I was searching how to deal/cope with distance or space. You see I have been dating this man for over a year now, he is a single father of three which he has primary custody of, he does everything for them. When I first met him we hit it off heavy and immediately started dating exclusively. He did tell me that he did not have a lot of time to spend because of the children. Well I grew to really like him and since I was use to long distance relationships, the space didnt really bother me. Our relationship has been through some ups and downs, a few breakups which were only by words because it didnt last past 24 hours. He was previously married for 15 years and got divorced because he caught his wife cheating with another man so he has some serious trust issues. He dated another lady after that but that didnt work well and not only did it end but his kids got attached to her as well. Well because of all of this, we spend NO time together, just a few fly bys here and there. In the year I have been with him, we have never been to the movies, nor spent the night together, or anything. We have been out to eat, I can count on one hand. He doesnt let me around the kids, even though I have met them once but he says he is protecting them. He has invited me to his house a few times. To his defense he doesnt go out with his friends or anywhere else for that matter besides work and the gym. I truly love him dearly and we have really overcome some obstacles in our relationship but I am growing weary. He brought me a ring in July but still hasnt gave it to me. I truly dont know what to do, we have had this talk and it never ends with results. I dont want to give up on us because I know he loves me dearly but I want a REAL relationship. Our communication is awesome we laugh, and talk about everything, several times a day but I need the physical just as well. I am praying that you can give me some advice from a third party because most people that I talk to says that he is being selfish but I see what he goes though on a daily basis but I truly believe if he wanted to make time he could…..

#26 John Rocheleau on 03.16.12 at 4:20 pm

Hello Conflicted,

I think this man wants a relationship just because he is used to being in one, but he is afraid of committing to it because he has not moved past the trauma of his previous relationships. My gut feel is that your relationship has never developed to the point where it is tested to either deepen or die. If he is not willing to allow you physically into his world, and physically step into yours, then I think you have no basis to really judge the relationship. It may be far too easy to feel that you love him and want to be with him, when actually being with him and his children, etc., is only a theory at this point.

He is not ready for another romantic relationship if he hasn’t dealt with his feelings over the past ones. From what you’ve shared of his past relationships, I think he needs alone time to move beyond the hurt to find himself again. Despite that you and he have great discussions, he clearly cannot commit to trusting a love relationship enough to dive in and live the love.

This is a situation where the space he needs seems to rule out a relationship for now. I hope he finds what he needs to be able to trust again. This is an inner journey that only he can take. Well that’s how I see it.

Best,
John

#27 Zoey on 03.25.12 at 11:53 am

I read both articles about what true love is and about space and trust in a relationship. I’m currently in a relationship for about a year and I love my boyfriend. There’s not a thing I wouldn’t do for him, I truly love him. However, we are both clingy and needy and selfish when it comes to being with each other. For the first few months of our relationship, I loved the attention. It was sweet and heart felt, but now I’ve seen how my friends don’t like being around us when we’re together or how upset I get when I can’t see him because he’s busy. I feel like I’m needing him too much and he does the same thing. How do I compromise without hurting him? I still want to continue being with him. Thanks in advance.

#28 John Rocheleau on 03.26.12 at 9:04 am

Zoey,

If you understand and agree with the concepts in this article as well as in Is Your Relationship True Love? then your next step is: put your understanding into practice.

You asked “How do I compromise without hurting him?” Zoey, this isn’t a compromise; it is a way to experience a more genuine relationship; a way to experience love instead of need. Being needy does not feel good; it robs you both of your personal power, so there is no position in that worth defending. The question is, do both of you see how things can be better? If so, then maybe this is an opportunity for both of you to grow and deepen your relationship.

You could begin by first having an honest conversation with yourself. Ask yourself what is important to you in the long term. What sort of a woman would you like to be in 10 years? Picture that, feel it. What kind of relationship would you like to be in then. Picture how you would relate to each other in this ideal relationship. Next return your inner gaze to the present day relationship, and how you relate. The differences you see between your ideal and what you have, are the characteristics you can work to change within yourself. It takes time, but each step brings you closer to your ideal. You can have exactly what you want. And as you make changes, maybe you will feel confident enough to have this conversation with your boyfriend, so that he can then have his own inner conversation.

It is possible that you can both grow in this way together. If only one of is making changes, then it may be time to move on.

Best to you,
John

#29 Zoey on 03.26.12 at 6:53 pm

I never thought of it that way. I never thought of trying to find the answer within myself. I hope I can apply your advice and use it to start forming a better relationship with my boyfriend.
Thanks so much,
John

Pleased to have read your articles and advice!

#30 Valery on 04.04.12 at 10:35 am

Hello John,
I need your advice. I’m in a relationship with a guy who is getting divorced and has a 3 years old boy that he is trying to get custody of. I love him and I would marry him and spend my whole life with him and he feels the same way and loves me very much. But I do have insecurities when it comes to his son..The fact his son will always come first makes me feel really sad sometimes, I know I shouldn’t be because the type of love he feels for his son is different from the one he feels for me..but still I do suffer at times..I would have prefered a man with no kids at all..But you can’t decide who you fall in love with. Plus since he would like to have a child with me in the future..that makes me wonder and scares me he would never love our own future child as much as he loves his first one..since he suffers so much that he can’t see his son and he is trying to get custody. Is there a way I can get over this and not compromise the relationship I have with my bf?

#31 John Rocheleau on 04.04.12 at 12:57 pm

Hi Valery,

If there is love, then trust it. Don’t project your fears into the relationship. Having children, whether they are your own or from your spouse’s former marriage, always changes the dynamics of a relationship. Focus and affections are shared between three, rather than just the two of you. This is a plus for most couples. The reward of raising a child outweighs the added stress and responsibility. It’s a personal decision though. Some couples are happier without children and are better off choosing mates that do not want a family.

Your fears surrounding this stem from the fact that you are not yet emotionally connected with his child. You sense this “other person” as competition, but if you are the type of woman who wants children, your fear will dissolve as you get to know and love this child.

So the question is: do you want children in your life? If you do, then further open your heart to this man to also embrace his child. Don’t create a future from your fears. Create with love and common sense and things will work out the way you want.

As an aside, common sense would advise to move cautiously when involved with a person who is not yet divorced. Sometimes that means that the person is not yet emotionally divorced from the marriage.

John

#32 EPM on 04.05.12 at 8:32 am

John, You really give such wonderful advice and I was wondering if you could give me some perspective on my situation.

I was in a 5 1/2 year relationship with this person who mid last year expressed feelings of not feeling in love with me
anymore but still loving me deeply. I believe part of the reason was because she found this other person that made
her feel special.

Having been in a long relationship and her suffering a loss of a parent, it seemed that I just didn’t
bring her the same joy I use too. We live together and although not married, the daily routines sucked the romance
out of our relationship. Nonetheless, she asked for a break that began as just space for her to find her individuality (of
great importance is that she only spent in all these 5.5 years either with me or her family, she never made time to build
friends and that is how our relationship grew to be) and she wanted to experience other people. I totally understand that my insecurities, fears, jealousy have prompted her to go from a break to a break up.

And conveniently, the space she wanted has been spent with a new friend who she likes and has already gotten intimate with (something
we lacked for some time which I feel is why she so quickly jumped to that level with this person). She has assured me that
she is not trying to rush into another relationship and in fact wants to be single but she spends a lot of her free time with
her and has already gotten intimate with her. This hurts me so much because we still live together and financially it seems my only choice
because i’m currently unemployed. We do have 2 bedrooms so that helps.

However, during my healing process I have stumbled on the stage of anger and sometimes I say hurtful things to her and now it seems I keep pushing her
away. How do I stop myself from destroying what we had? She has emphasized that she would like to experience other
people but that she feels that there is hope for us in the future because what we have is special and no one has ever loved
her like I have but lately with all that I have been saying, she feels that there might not be one because I have said horrible things. Why can’t she understand that I’m hurt because I’m left all alone while she is happily connecting with someone else? Is it fair for her to want me as a friend during this time? How should
I behave or control my emotions during this time? She has been very honest with me and didn’t want to cheat on me so therefore asked
for the break-up however why does it feel like betrayal? She said she didn’t want to cheat because it would ruin a chance for us again in the future.

Also, every time I ask for her to give us another chance she says she can’t right now because it wouldn’t be fair to me because her mind
has wandered to other people and it wouldn’t feel right. She said she wants to return to me naturally. She said she can’t give me a second
chance “right now”. The words “not right now” is something she uses at all times when I mention ‘us’

Thanks so much in advance,
EPM

#33 John Rocheleau on 04.05.12 at 1:05 pm

EPM,

I had replied at some length only to find my response lost to a computer glitch before I could update the comments. The bottom line, though much less elegant than my initial expression is:

  • Accept that romance is different from unconditional love. Romance has its day. Like summer that leads to autumn, it can diminish.
  • Once diminished, autumn withdraws into winter to merge into spring where romance is renewed
  • Celebrate your girlfriend’s desire to maintain unconditional love. This is the key to all your further relationships.
  • Create some space for yourself — away from your girlfriend — to be completely with yourself.
  • What do you find that is unique?
  • Go with that.

Best,
John

#34 EPM on 04.05.12 at 1:36 pm

Thank you John! I appreciate your time and advice.

#35 Susan Gregg on 04.13.12 at 5:46 pm

Aloha John,

Great article about love. I just found your site and I will definitely be back.

I find that very often what people call love is really a trade agreement, not a negotiated agreement but a trade agreement none the less. You treat me this way and I will love you. Break this rule (the one I may have failed to tell you about) and I will withdraw my love.

Unconditional love is the ideal but as human beings the un part of unconditional is a stretch. Ideally relationships are a safe haven for both partners to grow, explore and expand their awareness of who and what they really are.

Thanks for the great post, lots to ponder and think about.

With love,
Susan

#36 John Rocheleau on 04.14.12 at 8:37 am

Hi Susan,

Love your insights. The trade agreement concept is so true. I especially liked your thought…

Ideally relationships are a safe haven for both partners to grow, explore and expand their awareness of who and what they really are

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