I've been in this scenario dozens of times with different guys: I feel unloved, I ask him to love me better, he tells me he's giving me all he's got, I feel like he doesn't want to love me, he feels like a failure, we leave more hurt than before, end scene.
What's going on? Whether we chalk it up to gender differences, a broken cycle of Love and Respect, or not attending to each other's love languages well, we've got to figure this one out.
I was telling a friend of mine the other day about I'd felt disconnected from my boyfriend and how we had had a hard conversation trying to sort it out.
Me to him: "Everything that you say or do in regards to our relationship affects how I answer these questions: do you still like me? Do you think I'm beautiful? Do you treasure me? By default (because of sin) the answer is always 'no.' So, I need you to help me answer those questions 'yes.'"
Him to me: "Taylor, I always think you're beautiful and I cherish you. I can't express that 100% of the time, but when I do, maybe you're not receiving?"
It was the aforementioned classic scenario until my boyfriend threw a new dynamic into the cycle. He said that he really was coming at me with all the love he can give, but that I had to trust that.
Trust. That's my half along with loving him with all I've got.
After I explained the scenario to my friend she said, "Taylor, this sounds like when you were trying to decide and trust if God was good or not. You just have to decide and trust that your person is loving you at all times."
The search for evidence that we are loved only gets us so far and it can easily become a constructed way we ensure that we are loved. If we can see what we want to see, if we get the exact evidence that we want, we can be in control, keep others under our control, and stay safe. And staying in control helps us avoid risky things like practicing trust and faith and loving when it seems like we'll get nothing back.
I think the joys that trust and faith bring into our lives are the things most missed out on in the world. We don't really think having faith can be trusted, or that trusting something before we have reasonable evidence should be a thing. But aren't we happier when we try it? Of course human love will fail and of course that will hurt. But I have to dive into that risk to find out what this love stuff is all about.
Another deceivingly simple thing about life is that we can just believe the stuff that makes us happy and the striving ends there. What gets complicated is deciding about what's the stuff that actually brings us life.
If I come at my boyfriend with the belief that he is for me, that he does love me, and that he does treasure me, that filter will help me pick up on all the ways he does love me much more effectively than asking him to prove himself against my filter that he doesn't. Guilty until proven innocent is no way to love in my opinion. It also takes me out of control completely which creates room for (hurt, yes, but...) deeper intimacy.
Side note: I'm not talking about stupid dudes or dudes who are manipulative (and we all know how to spot those). I'm talking about the golden boys who we still don't think are good enough because we make them fight unnecessary battles. Let's not do that. That's ugly.
I learned a cool thing at Crossroads church the other day. The speaker was talking about creating margin for ourselves in our busy lives so that we can reconnect with God and be filled with His love and power. He mentioned the first law of thermodynamics which says that energy cannot be created or destroyed within an isolated system. If we think about a relationship as an isolated system, the energy that is there is the energy that will stay. The energy we have within our relationships will either take on negative or positive vibes but won't exactly be as dynamic as we need it to be. That's why we need God, and outside system, to speak into and rejuvenate our finite systems and relationships.
I can't ask my person to fill me up. That's not his job. My focus needs to be on how I can partner with God to love my person best; not on critiquing his love for me. It's that blessed self-forgetfulness principle. Jesus fills me up, I trust His love and my person's love, I love them both to my full capacity, and all is well.
This whole trust thing has been working for me. And I think it's been working because God means it to. Once we get past this fear of risk, it's beautiful on the other side. No less risky, but much more full of the stuff that our soul really wants.