LILY Letter 44: Romance or Independence?

February 8, 2022

Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us and, for many, it brings more pressure and fear than joy. Pressure to meet the expectations of another can take the joy out of almost any celebration. Singles who don’t yet have a special person to celebrate with can feel this void more acutely as this holiday approaches.

Many see independence and romance as polar opposites and assert that one cannot nurture one without starving the other. Still others suggest that “balance” is the answer—trying to give roughly equal amounts of energy to their relationships and independent pursuits. Often, we have seen this dynamic manifest in relationships to create the pursuer-distancer polarity. This occurs when one person in the relationship (the pursuer) pushes for more intimacy and closeness, while the other (the distancer) feels smothered and pulls away. The more the pursuer pursues, the more the distancer withdraws. These disparate needs for intimacy and space become so exaggerated that it appears all the distancer wants is space and all the pursuer wants is intimacy. Both dig in their heels and insist on what they crave most.

What if we could think about this problem in a new way? What if the need for independence and the need for romance are not actually in tension with each other? If you come into a relationship expecting your partner to fill your unfilled needs, you are operating from need, rather than desire. If you NEED someone, it is impossible to CHOOSE that person. If you NEED someone, you have no choices. You must do whatever is required to keep that person in your life. You are inclined to pressure your partner to meet your needs and expectations of imitation love, whether those expectations involve money, emotional support, childrearing, sex, housework, or something else. Constant demands for “more” imitation love can overload a relationship like nothing else.

When you bring a healthy self to a relationship, you are operating from a place of DESIRE rather than from a place of unmet NEEDS. You can negotiate an interdependent relationship from a place of independence, rather than from a place of dependence and need. When you don’t NEED someone, it is truly possible to WANT him or her. Taking responsibility to meet your own needs liberates you to love another person freely without expecting something in return, rather than placing burdens and demands on him or her to fulfill unmet needs.

Every healthy and loving romantic relationship involves both intimacy and a robust component of independence. If you are single this Valentine’s Day but would like to be married, that is a wholesome desire. Prepare for a beautiful relationship by creating a beautiful life as a single person. Two happy people rarely get together and have a lousy time. Unhappy relationships tend to be overloaded with the needs and expectations of one or both partners. Don’t spend Valentine’s Day feeling miserable about being alone and waiting for things to change so you can be happy. Instead, focus on loving God, yourself, and others, and getting enthusiastic about seizing all of the opportunities this amazing world holds for you.

FEATURED THIS WEEK

FEATURED THIS WEEK

LILY Pod Episode 56: Whirlwind Romance with Victoria Wynn & Trent Limb

LILY Tube Video: Whirlwind Romance with Victoria Wynn & Trent Limb (video option)

LILY Tube Video: No Relationship on Valentine’s?

KSL Interview on Studio 5: Love In Later Years—From Pain to Empowerment

Enjoy our new podcast on “LILY Pod” about a delightful whirlwind romance that will inspire your love life. Watch our new video on "LILY Tube" for ideas on how to make Valentine’s joyful and meaningful, whether you are in a romantic relationship or not.

If you enjoy this letter, forward to a friend. Our goal is to support as many mid-singles and later-married couples as possible!

To get a copy of "Intentional Courtship" on Amazon and create more love in your life in 2022, visit Intentional Courtship.

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