I know my partner's trying to give me what I desire.

Why isn't it landing?

"She always says she wants more eye contact and conversations where I’m fully present and listening deeply. But I’ve been trying to do those things, and… it’s like, she blows me off. She’s not appreciating it at all."

He’s working hard… but it’s not landing.

“We’re going on dates. And from the outside, it might look really good. He holds the door for me, is totally attentive at dinner… But it feels so stilted to me… Like he’s doing it because he’s supposed to. I mean, this guy didn’t put me into the car ONCE in, like, 15 years, and all of a sudden, he’s doing it? I can’t really trust it means what I want it to mean."

His new approach is so much better that it’s foreign.

"I need more touch than has worked for my wife in the past. Lately, I can see that she’s trying to be more cuddly with me. But when it happens, I’m almost in a weird state of “what do I do with this?”" His need - unmet for so long - has gone into hiding.


Change in love takes some time to metabolize. Our hearts are like soil that’s been parched, in certain ways, for a while now. And when it begins to rain in a way it hasn’t for a long time - maybe ever - that soil may not be ready to absorb the nourishment.

In those times, here’s what we can remember:

When we’re watering a parched heart:

- Let’s not look for appreciation or applause in the short term. Instead, we humbly water, consistently and persistently, determined to help the parched soil remember how to drink the love we’re learning to pour on in more skillful ways than before. We relish our own opportunity to practice and we look forward to the day it’s more nourishing. - Let’s not take the irritation or resistance personally. Let's know it’s about our partner’s receptive capacity and give them time to expand it, now that we’re aware of the need and in a process of learning to meet it more skillfully.

When we’re receiving something new and it’s not hitting the spot yet:

- Let’s presume the mismatch is about our receptive capacity, and that every time our partner practices their new skill, we get to expand our receptive capacity. Let’s not take our irritation or sense that “this is fake” because we “had to” ask for it with too much seriousness. Let’s trust instead that as our receptivity expands, we’ll be able to “absorb” the new forms of love with more ease and pleasure. - Let’s remember how hungry we’ve been for this and imagine ourselves as a starving animal… perhaps a bit snarly, a bit untrusting, but being fed by a kind hand that will, through persistence and perseverance, continue to feed us consistently till we’re sleek and purring.

Either way, let's own our part, forgive ourselves and our partner for the gap in the past, and proceed with patience and a bit of humor.

Intermittent snarls notwithstanding.

It helps me to think of the met-need-quotient like a moving average.  Probably a 45-90 day moving average, depending on the need and the history of its being met or not.  I know:  once an economics geek, always an economics geek.  

We can let in the moving average of what we've been receiving over time.

Are we getting more than that now?  Good, if it's movement in the right direction.  But short-term, not all of it will really "land."

Whether it's non-sexual touching (or generosity in bed) grounded listening (or not using quite so many words ("Guilty, your honor!"), eye gazing or curbing criticism, we need to assess based on the moving average over the last 2-6 months, not our herculean efforts over the last 72 hours.  {wink}