Appreciation : Watering what you have

“What you appreciate will grow, what you don’t appreciate will go.”

Jac and Ellie has been together for 7 years, on and off. They were young, only 22 when they met. Ellie had been in several relationships, but there was something about Jac that made her want to settle down with him: his child-like faith about love. 

Jac had never been in a relationship and it was his first. He was excited and thought it would be the relationship for the rest of his life. 

After they got together, Jac slowed down in passion, took things for granted, and turned passive in gardening the relationship. Ellie was deeply hurt, sad and helpless. He was the one she really wanted, though no matter what she did, she was not able to turn on the engine of Jac to attend to the relationship problems at risk. Frustrated, she left him. 

The leaving of Ellie left Jac shattered and shocked. It was his first relationship and he had never expected his loved one would leave him. Jac did what he could to salvage the relationship. It was too late.

Ellie left the country and found someone new. 

It is human instinct to devote our attention to getting what we want, the love of our lives. However, it is also as easy as human instinct to think what we have will always be there. It is almost like bringing a plant home and expecting it to grow on itself without watering or fertilising it. The plant won’t grow without water, it will wither and eventually die. 

Same with our loved ones, our partner. Our partner is like a plant we brought home to build a life together. Without watering our partner with care and attention, when we neglect our partner’s needs, their hearts wither and weaken. 

The next question is, how do we water our partner with care and attention? Know what they need to make them feel alive. They want to feel noticed by you, their existence, their change, their effort. They feel noticed when you acknowledged and commented positively on their change, their effort. 

Emotional Intimacy Build on Sand

“I love you”, he said. “I know”, I said with a smile. 

“For now, this second.” My heart whispered. 

Got to know a person, whom I pretty admired – attractive, socially established in a position envied by many, fun to be with.

It was almost like a dream come true, the feeling of living the dream, that I wouldn’t thought I’d meet someone so perfect, someone who, for the first time, I could be myself.

Things were rolling fast, we texted, exchanged thoughts and felt like … he was the first person whom I could fill the void in my heart. I didn’t know what that void was in the first place. I just knew it felt pretty empty, though I was socializing with people, though I was in a relationship previously, but there was always this background void that, I couldn’t perfectly pinpoint.

Emotional intimacy you would call it perhaps. He was open with me, he was honest with me, he has an emotional depth that is hard to gauge, intelligence that is hard to see its limits. I was able to fly high with him, yet dive deep with him at the same time. An experience that you don’t get with many. In fact, an experience, a connection that, I was only able to have with him, till date.

I admire the fact that he was honest, honest that, a monogamy relationship is not what he believes in, and that, what we are sharing at the moment, is momentarily. His words had somehow left me in wonder. How could it have felt so different, when you change the tone attached to it. He said it with such dreamy, deep, romantic eyes, with such deep, gentle, calm voice. Although I do not buy the idea, despise it in fact, somehow, it felt ok, when it was communicated through him, through that deep, soft voice, through that deep, lingering eyes. Perhaps I did not despise it, because I was relieved. I was relieved because I knew, given his womanising behaviour and characteristics, coupled with his internal and external charm, I will have no peace being in a serious, long-term, committed relationship with this man.

After spending time with him, indeed the days felt beautiful, the night felt sweeter, and the heart felt responsive and reached. It somehow, has led me into a tug of opposite tension- my heart wanted to continue living in his warmth, but I need to put a brake to it, I wanted to be mesmerised and feel vulnerable in his presence, but I need to put a brake to it, my thoughts wanted to linger in our sweet memories, but I need to put a brake to it. Only so much. I told myself. Only so much of my true emotions. Only so much of me, as much as I wanted to put my guard down and be vulnerable, only so much – the brake would kick in.

It’s almost like a secret subset of my life, that only him and I know. A subset where, at least I could be myself, because there’s no expectation. No expected commitment, no expected performance, no expected conversations, no expected investment, no expected emotional effort to please. We come together, we have a good time, we part, we live our own lives. And the cycle repeats.

I am sure, after I left, to return to where I need to go, to return to where I have to be, to return to my life, he would easily find a substitute. It’s a bubble, it’s a perfectly live-in-the-moment bubble, that would pop, be gone, and back to square-one. It almost felt like a self-deceiving bubble. But again, though no tangible element from the relationship will be continued into the future, but the intangible changes that happened may last for a life-time. The soul is always gaining insights. The soul grows. The soul experiences. The soul matures.

One thing for sure that I’ve learnt, emotional intimacy. If it weren’t him, I would not have understood what emotional intimacy is all about- the ability to fly high together in the mind and to dive deep together in the heart.

The last time I was involved in such, short-term, live-in-the-moment, non-committal relationship was back in university. I must say, it’s like friendship on fire, but nothing more. A place where you receive your dose of excitement, your dose of emotional comfort, a platform for you to unleash your heart (to some extend), a platform you are able to be yourself. Instant gratification of emotional and physical needs with no messy commitment, for those who are not ready, for those who have not found the one. I do not like the idea of this, I think it’s unhealthy in the long-run, but I did it.

It reinforces independence, emotional independence. Fun to be with, and only so much. Of course, the friendship as well. He is a good person. I really cherish the friendship between us. We took it a little further, because it was mutual, and we know it will returned to platonic friendship when the time comes. A tug of opposite tension, and trying to stay in the middle, that’s what it feels like. Good or bad, I have yet the courage to answer.

Many of the times, we know what is good and what is bad, what is safe and what is dangerous, it’s just that we haven’t had the courage to face it.

Emotional intimacy with an emotional nomad, it’s like foundation build on sand. Even a soft whisper of wind, is able to bring it down, to sweep it all away.

An emotional nomad, a convenient lover, an mobile dock, is an easy fix to a broken, empty, lost and vulnerable heart, but the consequence is much more to bear.

It’s sweet in the beginning, sour in the middle, and plain at the end.

Sweet from the attention-bombing, sour from the jealousy, and plain from the abandon.

Genuine love, on the other hand, quiet in the beginning, subtle in the middle, and sweet in the end.