Being Seen – An Essential Ingredient In The Recipe Of Love
A man who’s been in relationship for awhile happened to say, “She [his partner] really sees me.” After he shared that, another man in the group asked, “What does it mean to you guys to ‘be seen’?”
When we’re talking about relationship there are so many definitions, so many “pictures”, and so many expectations of what a good or great relationship is or should be. The level of expectations around it all are immense. The profundity of the “Being Seen” factor is that it’s at least one unifying thread, in my opinion, that allows us to gauge a “real” relationship from a fantasy one.
One of the most common criteria that the men shared, and this is certainly the case for me, for being seen is that their partner (and their deepest friends) “gets” them; in other words, “sees” and loves who they are beyond their B.S. When we’re truly “seen,” our essence…our Spirit…that transcends and shines through in spite of our facades, personas, behaviors, and situational temperament is known, reflected back to us, and – in a sense – stood for by our loved ones.
Stemming from that was the commonality that every man that night who feels seen by his partner and/or best friends realized that the very act of being seen in any given moment ends up amplifying that which is being seen. At its simplest, when our Spirit’s energy and character are truly seen or “gotten,” and mirrored back to us through our partner’s love and acceptance (which sometimes involves a lot of tolerance, too), we have to work really hard to deny and stay numb to what most makes us who we truly are beyond what we do and how much money we have (big factors for a lot of men).
In working with couples, one of the biggest issues that I see is the startling degree to which one partner or the other has stopped “seeing” the Other. That’s bad enough in itself, but if our partners are indeed a reflection/amplifier of our best essence, then when we’re not “seeing” our partner, we’re blind to our self. This increases the egocentric tendency to look more to our partner to give us a secure identity, and when they fail at this impossible job, our wounded parts inside get upset, hurt, and often end up withdrawing our love, energy, and presence. See the trap in that?
While it’s important to “see” your partner to have a healthy relationship, it’s equally essential that you first start “seeing” yourself more. [A caveat here, though…this means also being willing to see – and own – your darkest parts of yourself, too. You rob yourself if you only look at the “pretty” parts of yourself.] How can you do that? Here are a few suggestions:
- Spend 3 minutes at the beginning of your morning (or right after your morning meditation, if you do that valuable practice) consciously looking for at least 3 things about yourself that you treasure and admire (internal qualities, not accomplishments)…write them down in a journal. Do that for 30 days, and see what you notice about how you feel and show up in all your relationships.
- Find some pictures of yourself from childhood to present day that make you smile and warm up inside…that really warm up your heart and move you…and put them together in a collage that you look at every day. See who you are inside through the pictures. So, when I say “look” at them, I seriously mean look closely, intently, and with your heart, not just your eyes.
- Take a few minutes each day, for the next 10 days, to look someone you love deeply (your partner, a friend, your kids) right in the eye, and “see” them by telling them a quality of theirs that transcends any action, behavior, or personality trait that you sincerely admire…and, tell yourself how you either have that same quality or something damn close to it…and see if you’re willing to let yourself breathe that in and feel it.
Strengthening your ability to “see” yourself, and then letting yourself be seen by your partner (i.e., receiving, which is a challenge for many of us), is an essential ingredient – I’d even say a mandatory one – in any truly loving and healthy relationship, be it romantic or platonic. So, you’re invited and encouraged to go into the remainder of your day taking a whole new “look see.”
– is a deeply personal issue that everyone decides for himself. Sometimes the price is high, sometimes low. But this is not very important for life. Life is an interesting thing. And the price on Viagra – too.