My ex’s brother tried to give me relationship advice at a party about a year ago. He told me to expect 40 per cent but always give 60 per cent. It was one of the keys to a relationship — always giving more than you expect in return. If both partners are consistently operating around these percentages, there is some kind of balance that can be achieved. So what could possibly go wrong?
I think somewhere along the line, his 60 per cent fell and my 40 per cent rose. These changes did not work well together; we lost balance pretty quickly. Inevitably, I began longing for more while he began longing for less, and the give-and-take began morphing into a game of push and pull.
I liked the equation at the time I heard it, but I’ve since then changed my mind. My father told me he had a conversation with a friend in which it was discussed that in a relationship, you do not date the person; instead, you date their best version. Because if you’re truly in love with somebody, you want to be the best version of yourself that you can for that person.
I am proposing a new percentage ratio. Give 150 per cent, and expect 100. If you really love somebody, and I mean the madly, deeply, Grey’s Anatomy “pick me, choose me, love me,” kind of love, you’re going to put everything you possibly can into the person you’re with. At the same time, there should be some expectation that your partner is at least going to attempt to do the same.
However, there’s a trick to all these methods surrounding expectations, and sometimes it can throw an entire balance off. Sometimes, when we expect the 100, or even the 40, we expect it to be shown in a certain way. Often there’s a correlation between the way in which we give love and how we expect to receive it, which can have dangerous outcomes. I’ve learned a lot about what it means to love somebody over the past few years, and that how somebody chooses to love me will often look completely different.
Sometimes, the differences between how each partner chooses to love can define the course of a relationship, including the end of it. Perhaps that is what defined the end of mine. We loved each other in ways that made it difficult for the other to recognize. Back then, I wanted the kind of love that was all-consuming, which was something I began to push for, and he wanted a love that was simpler, perhaps a little less scary — so he began to pull away.
We all love each other differently; sometimes it works, sometimes it crumbles. But I think in order for it to ever work, it should be okay to expect more than 40 per cent, and if that’s being given, it’s just a matter of recognizing how. At the time, I thought I could have loved him for the rest of my life, but I see now it’s okay he could have only loved me for right then.