Attention means Caring, Caring means Love
How often have you found yourself in argument with your significant other that led you to believe they are quite possibly the demon you can’t defeat rather than the lover to heal all wounds? All we really want more than anything is to know that they still love us. So what do we do?
The solution is simple: We drive them mad.
to pay attention - to listen to, watch, or consider something or someone very carefully
- Macmillan Dictionary
Even though we know they chose to live with us, share their lives with us, we still seek their attention constantly. I mean let's be honest, there are so many reasons why they might just stop loving us one day: our difficult manner, getting older, not making enough money, etc. And there are just so many other people out there, be it at work or in those other invisible parts of their life that remain a constant mystery to us no matter how many times they say they told us everything about their day. These ‘others’ no doubt have so many things to offer them that we couldn’t. It’s really hard to trust anyone knowing that truly anything can happen. What’s worse, you see nothing but signs of them being everywhere... but with you. On their phone or drifting off into space with a reply of ‘oh nothing,’ when you ask them where they were.
And it’s important to know what they are paying attention to because when we pay attention to someone or something, be it a person, pet, or plant, we invest in them. It can literally change your brain due to something fancy and scientific called ‘experience-dependent neuroplasticity.’
‘...whatever you hold in attention has a special power to change your brain. Attention is like a combination spotlight and vacuum cleaner: it illuminates what it rests upon and then sucks it into your brain – and your self.’
Survival in this world is more than just eating and sleeping. We’ve evolved and need partners for more than just sex, food, and protection. We need them for our psychological well-being. We want, need, and desire more than anything to have their approval and positive outlook on us. We want the reassurance, but are terrified of revealing the extent of our vulnerability and how easily they could destroy us if they wanted to. My god, the idea of letting someone know how much of our life is in their hands is admitting to them and yourself that you may not be in as much control as you thought you were.
What if you came from a family that didn’t quite give you the confidence and attention you wanted and needed as a child? The price of asking for such reassurance now from your partner so directly may seem like too much. Yet, their divided behavior towards you is unbearable as well. So like the dog who’s upset you were gone all day and too tired to play when you are home, you seek their attention even if it means it comes from their anger rather than their love. Whatever it takes to make sure they remember we are still there.
So as we are driving home or waiting at home, we build up our case in our minds, or if you’re like most men you just repeat the same thing over and over in your mind without actually coming up with anything too persuasive to say. Just a Hail Mary (not so full of grace) of accusations that we save for the dinner table or bedroom conversation as soon as they give us anything tangible to launch the fireballs over the castle walls right to the core of who they are. Nothing is safe. The way their parents raised them, the way they spend time with their friends, they way they smiled at the stranger on the street is all fair game in your plan of attack.
And in all the fire and fury and mayhem from your volley of attacks, the deep down message of ‘I need you, I care about you, and you have no idea how much meaning you bring to my life,’ seems to get lost in the smoke and chaos. But we have managed to piss them off enough they launch their own brutal attack on us. But hey, we have their attention now with the irony that it was never the attention we actually wanted. We’ve got their attention, but:
rather than their affection we have their hostility,
rather than their devotion we have their indifference,
rather than their compassion we have their apathy,
rather than their grace we have their self-protective cruelty,
rather than their gentleness we have their wounded pride,
and rather than their constructive intelligence we have their sarcastic remarks.
‘to pay attention means we care, which means we really love.’
So what should we do? We should seek and build our relationships were it comes naturally, not necessarily effortlessly, but with someone that we know we connect with beyond the normal means, someone that make us feel more comfortable and loved rather than not. A person that reassures us on a regular basis in at least a basic way that we need. But more than that, we should seek to befriend our shadows that follow us everywhere we go. To not look at our seemingly extreme dependence with shame or as an evil demon we should hide from the world. And with that in mind we should give our partner the same consideration if they seem to be cruelly unfair or aggressive towards us. That they too may not be monsters themselves, but are just trying to be reminded that we care about them, and that they are looking for that affirmation by doing what we all do best, making the other person crazy.
Miracles really do happen every day’
― A.D. Posey