I’ve found myself thinking a lot about generosity lately. As I experience over the top amounts of it in my life right now, with friends and family housing me during my “I think I’ll be homeless for 4 months, adventure!”, I’m beyond grateful, to say the least.
It’s also got me thinking about the places where I easily show up in an open hearted, generous way and what causes me to constrict, hold onto things tightly and fall into a sense of “not enoughness” and lack in my life. Quite fascinating.
As a Relationship Coach, my mind always wanders immediately to how these things apply to our intimate relationships and dating, and as I pondered this topic, I couldn’t remember whether generosity was even on my own “requirements” list, the one I have my clients put together in my Conscious Dating workshop. That led me to a memory of an interesting story from years ago when I began dating as a single Mom.
I was living in Seattle, working my ass off juggling a full time job and a 6yr old son, when I finally found myself ready to try and begin dating again. The law firm in which I was a corporate travel manager had me surrounded by hundreds of bright, handsome, “A type” personalities who seemed interested in me, whether they were married or not. I’m not convinced I was as “hot” as I thought I was, since the criteria seemed to be simply that the woman was “Ok” looking, willing to drink the scotch in their bottom drawer with them after hours and have sex in their Mercedes in the parking structure, then be quiet about it the next day.
I was bright enough to dodge these guys and within 6 months, two pretty interesting men, both new to the firm, asked me out and we began dating. Mr. Musician, the entertainment lawyer who was also in an “up and coming” band and I had a soulful, deep connection immediately. I was new to the dating game and it seemed like going slow was good for him, too. I honestly think he was nervous that I had a child so we kept things as light as we could and hung out regularly.
Mr. Suspenders, the merger and acquisition attorney and I had a fun-loving, intense connection and we jumped in, in all areas, much quicker and things really took off. He was engaging, funny, smart and we attended all kinds of cool events in the city and traveled together to great places.
What stands out in my mind, which I haven’t thought about in years, was that there was one key quality missing from Mr. Musician that not only kept me moving steadily toward Mr. Suspenders, but irritated the hell out of me – his lack of generosity.
Both of these men were handsome, intelligent and had interesting lives. They were kind, respectful, fun to be with and sweet to my son. I was emotionally connected to both of them in a very strong way and it would have been hard to pick between the two of them except for one thing. Mr. Musician was stingy. When I included him in the regular Sunday home-cooked dinners that I made, he never brought anything. When I picked up the Thai food for us on an evening we were going to stay in, because our favorite place was closer to my home than his, he never once offered to reimburse me or even chip in. I was in the habit of paying my own way and many times, picking up a check altogether. My friends are generous souls and we just tend to go back and forth, grabbing the check and it all evens out. When I would, out of habit, say “Oh, I’ll get it this time,” he just would say “great” and that was that. I know my own pattern at the time, of not being able to speak up or discuss hard topics contributed to how this kept playing out.
In the end, my frustration turned to sadness, as I watched this man, who made a 6 figure salary as an excellent lawyer and who’s family had money, hold on to it tightly in all areas of his life. He couldn’t get the new car he really wanted, never bought the awesome guitar he had is heart set on and more important, money aside, he couldn’t be generous in sharing his deepest feelings and love. When Mr. Suspenders asked me to be exclusive and we discussed a future together, it was an easy decision to let this other man go.
On an even sadder note? This man, who I cared deeply about, but who held everything back, “flipped out” when I ended it. He suddenly became open, vulnerable, communicative, generous, left gifts on my door step, tried to take me to Paris and asked me to marry him... it broke my heart. Not because I questioned my choice. But because I then realized that there was some part of him, obviously, that knew he was intentionally not “giving”, not “sharing” , not “trusting” and it had closed the door on something he truly wanted, yet pushed away.
I’ve been this way. I’ll bet you have, too. We get scared. Then constrict, holding everything close to us in our tight little hands.
We date people who are “stingy” with money or in spirit. Our spouses irritate us when they think too long about whether to donate to a worthy cause or question whether they feel like sharing the quest room with the couple from college who are in town. I’ve watched myself, over the last few months, put less and less in the basket that’s passed around here at the spiritual center I go to in Albuquerque as my fear grows around the financial investment I am now making in my business.
It feels like crap. It’s not who I am. I’m a person who pulls over and gives my gloves to the homeless person on the side of the freeway or buys dinner for the whole crew just because it gives me such joy! The times I let fear lead the way, it tears at my soul.
And trust me. In a love relationship, it’s one of the key elements in creating a strong, emotionally connected, intimate bond. People are drawn to others who open their arms, their doors, their hearts and share the wealth.
Let’s loosen our grip and take a deep breath into the knowing that not only is there “enough” for all of us, we “are enough.”
Love is expansive.
May it be so in our own lives.