Quote of the day: GIVING AND RECEIVING

July 19, 2011


How exactly do we give and receive? The first way is a simple/difficult technique: Ask for what you want and listen to your partner. Asking for what you want combines the most crucial elements of intimacy. It gives the other the gift of knowing you, your needs, and your vulnerability. It also means receiving the other’s free response. Both are risky, and therefore both make you more mature. You learn to let go of your insistence on a yes, to be vulnerable to a no, and to accept a no without feeling the need to punish.

To listen intimately to a partner asking for what he wants is to pick up on the feeling and need beneath the request. It is to appreciate where the request came from. It is to feel compassion for any pain that may lurk in the request. It is to give the other credit for risking rejection or misunderstanding. We hear with our ears; we listen with our intuition and our heart. Giving and receiving entail the ability to accommodate the full spectrum of a partner’s fears and foibles and to distinguish between needs we can and cannot expect to see fulfilled.

A second way intimate adults give and receive is through mutually chosen sex and playfulness: You make love when both of you want it, not when one of you push the other into it. You can be intimate without having to be sexual. You know how to have fun together. You play without hurting each other, without engaging in sarcasm or ridicule, without laughing at each other’s shortcomings.

Finally, we give and receive by granting equality, freedom from hierarchy, to our partner and ourselves. Only the healthy ego, and not another person, is meant to preside over your life. In true intimacy, partners have an equal voice in decision making. One partner does not insist on dominating the other.

— David Richo, How to Be an Adult in Relationships

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