Ask not what he does for you but without you

Published: Wednesday, January 25, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 24, 2006 at 10:55 p.m.
We start out measuring a partner based on what he or she can do for us.
Maybe you want somebody to make you look good, contribute big bucks or cover for you when you don't know what to say.
Maybe you want somebody who will do for you what you fear you cannot do for yourself - give you what you don't yet have and think you need to be happy. Instead of looking for what you want in a person, you may be looking for how much a person can help you in pursuit of approval or status or wealth - or merely survival.
We can reach impressive levels of accomplishment, though, without true companionship, let alone love and happiness. Many of us have paid dearly to learn that (but it's worth what we paid for it).
A diamond, however stupendous, cannot radiate love. A household, however well executed, can be severely cold and empty. However perfect a picture, it is still lifeless.
We learn that by focusing on what a partner can do for us. Perhaps this is when we move to the second stage, where I believe we begin to look for what a partner will do with us, rather than for us.
I remember wanting somebody to workout with me. It felt good to walk in the gym with somebody. Dinner with somebody was more fun. I didn't need somebody to whip me into shape or pick up the check. The companionship felt good, but the connection was often limited to what we were doing.
Maybe you've been there - content with each other's company as long as you were busy doing something. No wonder we choose to sleep together and hold onto our own beds.
A coaching client in the city who lived only six blocks from "the woman he loved dearly" explained that while he shared her bed, he preferred to walk home afterward to his own. All I had to do is ask why for him to realize that something was missing . . . and that he had been justifying its absence.
We want more than companionship. We want to be completely known and loved. We want to have nothing left to hide. That means knowing and sharing all of us with somebody who is capable of knowing and loving all of us.
And that means moving to the third stage, which is finding a partner you love for what he or she does without you, for who he or she is without you.
The costume that somebody wears to fill a role and help you fill one yourself leaves you wanting. And what somebody does with you leaves you wanting. It is the essence beneath the costume that satisfies; it is who somebody is when nobody is watching that satisfies.
When you find somebody who has dropped the mask in favor of what's beneath it, you find somebody who is no longer playing a role, somebody who doesn't need you to play one, and somebody who can love you rather than need you.
And when you are not out to use the role somebody plays, you can devote your attention to the person. When you have no desire to put somebody on a leash or to drop somebody into a mold to serve your needs, you are able to know his or her essence.
Ask yourself what you focus on. Are you in stage one, looking at what a partner - or prospective partner - can do for you? Are you in stage two, looking for companionship or what a partner will do with you? Or are you in stage three, looking for a partner to know and love deeply?
Be honest . . . and there's no wrong answer.
Jan Soroka is a columnist, author and speaker based in Ormond by the Sea. Please e-mail her at, or visit her Web site at

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

Comments are currently unavailable on this article

▲ Return to Top