Quid Pro Quo Love
In every relationship I’ve ever had I was a rescuer. That means I did everything I could for the other person so they were comfortable, so they had everything they thought they needed and so their life was better with me in it than it was without me. For instance, my partner would ask a question and I would leap to my laptop and find the answer, as if it was my duty to serve. If my partner needed their kids picked up on the other end of town and couldn’t make it, I’d drop everything and run to get them on time. And if my partner was frustrated, worried, unhappy, angry or unwell, I was there to help, to solve and to nurse .¨ whatever it took. But, was it reciprocated? A little. Not much though. To say it was out of balance would be an understatement. But, the relationships weren’t out of balance; I was.
It’s what I believed about me that was the most out of balance. I didn’t think I was worthy of love. So, when someone gave me love, I thought I had to do and do and give and give to pay the person back. It was as if they were doing me a favor and I owed them. But, this wasn’t love .¨ it was the fear of not being loved. There’s a big difference between giving to another out of pure love versus buying love with your blood, sweat and tears. When you give pure love, you automatically get love because you feel it within your heart, not because it is expected or owed.
For most of us, our relationships are mainly about getting something because we have given something rather than for pure love. I call this Quid Pro Quo Love. The Latin translation for Quid Pro Quo is this for that. If we look closely at our relationships, we will see this is the system we call love. If we look even closer at the system, we will see it gives us nothing.
The Game of Nothing
I have said before that the reason we typically enter into love is for pain relief. We believe we are not good enough and this sense of lack creates fear within us .¨ the fear that we are not worthy of love. Living with this fear is painful. This pain continues throughout most of our lives because the ways we attempt to overcome it just don’t work. For instance, we think finding someone else to love us will make us feel good enough, but it never does .¨ not for long, anyway.
In Quid Pro Quo Love, there is a Rescuer and a Taker. Each party is dependent on the other to end their pain; they just do it in different ways. A Taker’s remedy to end their pain is to find someone to love them. Their definition of love is when someone does everything for them, even if it is under duress. To the Taker, this seems like love. But, there is no love here, just fear. This means that at some point in the near future, usually within a year, the Rescuer will become useless because the Taker’s pain from not feeling good enough will still be there.
The Rescuer has the same problem from a different point of view. Feeling unworthy of love and in pain, the Rescuer thinks that if he or she does everything for another person the reward will be love, and it seems to work, at least in the beginning. But, as with the Taker, the Rescuer’s motivation is not pure love. At some point in the near future, the Rescuer will begin to resent the Taker because the Rescuer’s pain is still there even though he or she has done everything for the Taker.
The rescuer thinks the remedy to receiving love is to give everything. The taker thinks the remedy to receiving love is to take everything. Everyone in this system is playing the Game of Nothing. I call it the Game of Nothing because the one thing you want, love, you never get.
The truth is no one can love you until you love yourself. Every time we expect someone else to do for us what we need to do for ourselves, we lose the game. To uncover the game, you must first be aware of it. To win it, you have to stop playing.
Total Loss of Power
Entering into any love relationship out of lack and fear automatically creates a total loss of power for all parties involved. In the Rescuer-Taker dynamic, it might seem as if the Taker has all the power and the Rescuer has none. But, this isn’t true because the motivation for the Taker’s role comes from lack and fear. The Rescuer is powerless for the same reason. No one who feels fearful and lacking can feel powerful at the same time. Where does power come from then? True power comes from love .¨ pure love.
A relationship in which both parties are powerless may also seem oppressive. But, the Taker is not the oppressor and neither is the Rescuer. The truth is the mind that believes the lie, that we are not good enough, is the oppressor. It is in the mind where we hold this belief about ourselves. We must correct this massive error in our teachings in order to connect with others through pure love instead of fear.
It is important to understand that the loss of our power doesn’t have anything to do with who wears the pants in the family or who answers to whom in a relationship, as many of us might think. The loss of power is our inability to nurture and experience self-love. So, the correction that is needed, which ends Quid Pro Quo Love and its Game of Nothing comes when we accept self-love as the key to all love.
Correcting the Error
In the realm of lack and fear, the Rescuer-Taker dynamic is a relationship home run. But, make no mistake, these relationships don’t work. They only breed resentment, blame, judgment and guilt. If you are feeling any of these, or perhaps all of them, towards your partner, your relationship is most likely based on Quid Pro Quo Love. If this is the case, it’s time to change.
What can we do? Below are some steps you can take to break free from a Quid Pro Quo Love mindset, stop playing the Game of Nothing and return to pure love for yourself and others.
- Realize That You’ve Been Lied To .¨ Know that each of us has been taught that we are not good enough. This is simply not true. This lie drives our relationship issues and keeps us from experiencing pure love with ourselves and others.
- Become Aware Quid Pro Quo Love .¨ Look at your relationships to see if you are giving too much to get love or if you are taking too much to get love. Do you have expectations of love, do you feel like you owe or own your partner? All of these are out of balance and out of alignment with self-love. Becoming aware that you are in a relationship like this gives you space, or an opening, to step back and see your love as it really is – which is not love at all, but fear. Then, you can begin making the changes needed to heal the relationship and share pure love.
- Get Buy–In .¨ Talk with your partner about this dynamic and see if you can work on this together. Working as a team will assist you in the process because you will get much needed support for self-love, individually and as a team. Agree on shifting the fear to pure love and collaborate on ways you think will help you do this together. Let your partner know that any changes you make are not against them, but for pure love. Many things will have to change between you, but if pure love is your foundation, you will make it through this challenging time. It is not easy to look at the truth, but it is of the utmost importance if you are going to heal the relationship.
- Tune Into Self-Love .¨ It is time to accept yourself as you are, love yourself as you are and allow others to do the same. When you accept and love yourself, others will, too. Self-love is contagious as is all pure love. It is time to stop depending on others to love you. It is time for you to love you.
- Practice Self-Love .¨ It is time to be kind, understanding, caring and compassionate towards you. Many of us don’t know where to start with this one. You can start with no longer doing, giving and demanding just so you earn or expect love from others. Then, promise yourself no more negative self-talk. You will have to listen for it to realize how much you are doing it. Finally, focus on doing one thing each day that nourishes you .¨ going to the gym, eating healthy food, cleaning out your cluttered areas or going to bed by ten o’clock each night. Talk with your partner and tell him or her how you are going to support self-love. Communication is key, but not to gain approval. The only person who needs to approve of you is you.
Breaking free from this dynamic, that has been passed on for generations, means waking up to the patterns associated with this kind of love, which isn’t really love at all. We have to give up the roles in our relationships in order to heal from this game. We have to be brave enough to see the truth and then we have to do something different. If we don’t investigate our relationship dynamics and recognize the imbalance in them and in us, the Game of Nothing continues. No one deserves that.