I love you, but I love me more
I never watched Sex and the City when it was in its heyday. I remember catching a clip of an episode at the gym once, featuring Carrie, the sex columnist, whining about her boyfriend and having a tantrum and I thought, “This show isn’t for me.”
Years later, I was in the gym again (the only place I ever see television), and saw an episode where Miranda, the successful lawyer, was dating a bartender, and the story was about how they navigated the class and financial dynamics of their relationship.
That was more interesting to me, so I decided to give the show a go.
I rented the first season of DVDs and then polished off the other five seasons within a month.
In all those years of the show, there was one phrase and one idea that I thought made the whole six years worth the price of admission.
Samantha, the “uber-sexual” one, is in a relationship where she has potentially, finally, met her match. There are issues in the relationship though. Issues that are too big for her to ignore anymore.
She ends the relationship with the words: “I love you, but I love me more.”
That, there, was the wisest line in the whole show for me.
As much as me meld together, and the melding, the acceptance of all of your partner’s (strengths and) flaws is beautiful, if something makes you less of who you are, you have to reject it.
If you become smaller to stay together;
If you swallow things you know to be true;
If you don’t feel honoured any longer;
You either set boundaries that ensure you remain respected and cherished and your partner adheres to them.
Or you leave.
But not easy.
If you aren’t being honoured in the place where trust and safety are the name of the game, you will not grow.
You will be locked down and in protection mode.
Not only will your relationship stagnate, but everything else in your life will begin to stagnate too.
This is why I can always track back stagnation in people’s outer lives to their bedrooms.
It’s the source. Your power source. And it’s either feeding or draining you.
If your relationship isn’t fostering the biggest, best and maybe latent, but awesome, parts of you to come out, it isn’t working.
People often say one of their greatest fears is getting lost or enmeshed in the other person, in the oneness of the two.
I get it.
The art is to dive deeply in the coming together and then still retain your self.
How do you do it?
Learning to set boundaries in relationships was one of the hardest and most important things I’ve learned.
The boundary setting all pivots on that one crucial idea:
I love you, but I love me more.
When you are willing to make decisions from that place, from “I will walk away if you don’t honor me,” then you’ve mastered a huge lesson.
Relationships are a constant navigation of coming together and moving apart, just like the tides.
I often talk about the concept of surrender, and the letting go and the letting in and the penetration.
Equally important is the self-knowing and self-honoring. In fact, being able to do this deepens how far you can truly surrender and come together.
Because you do it from a place of being whole, of knowing who you are.
And when you are firm in that, you can give from an endless well.
And it feel sooooo much better. For both people.
Image: Ryan McGinley