Aug 232016 7 Responses

Are You Being Used and Not Loved?

Everybody likes the benefits. Workers like paid vacation. School children love recess. Returning customers enjoy a 10% discount.

Relationships are full of benefits. It’s a comfort to know someone always has my back, is on my side, and sees me eye-to-eye. Some of the first benefits of a new relationship is the comfort in knowing you always have a date for Friday night, but as a relationship matures, so do the benefits.

Some of my favorite benefits are:

  • sharing all of life with another
  • having someone who knows me better than any other and loves me anyway
  • knowing I’m not alone in raising our children
  • having someone to encourage me when I’m down
  • two-incomes but shared expenses
  • sex
  • diversity of strengths

A healthy marriage has a variety of benefits. (See: A Healthy Marriage Makes You Smarter)

But those benefits must be wedded to responsibilities.

Responsibilities of Relationships

Relationships come with inherent responsibilities. Things are demanded of us. Expectations are placed upon us. There are things we must do (and refrain from doing) in order for the relationship to thrive.

Some common relational responsibilities are:

  • spending quality time with one another
  • sharing in household chores
  • playing a role in adding to the financial resources (either by earning money or supporting the one who does)
  • fidelity
  • making ourselves physically and emotionally present to our spouse
  • being an equal partner in raising children
  • showing respect to one another

Some responsibilities come and go throughout the differing seasons of marriage while others are always present. Yet in every season there are certain things which an individual must do to make the relationship healthy. (See: Marry a Partner, Not a Child)

Benefits Without Responsibilities

Relationships fail when an individual or couple tries to enjoy the benefits of the relationship while avoiding the responsibilities.

It’s true of a man who wants sex without commitment.

It’s true of a woman who wants financial security without financial discipline.

It’s true of couples who want peace without the courage to have difficult conversations.

Everyone would take the benefits without the responsibilities if it were possible, but a healthy relationship cannot exist without both. The benefits of the relationship must be intertwined with the responsibilities.

Where only benefits exist, trust is eroded. A spouse feels isolated, alone, and taken advantage of.

Where only responsibilities exist, hope is dashed. A spouse feels disappointed, empty, and used.

But where both are present, each spouse feels valued, loved, and important.

Friends With Benefits

Humanity has long attempted to experience benefits without responsibilities. It was true centuries ago in polygamous cultures where men desired the benefits of sexual freedom without the responsibility of commitment to one person. It’s true in today’s society where friends try to enjoy the sexual benefits of a relationship without the responsibility of loving one another.

But the two should not be split. Benefits should always be wedded to responsibilities. It’s the joining together of the two which allows a relationship to flourish. When we attempt to have one without the other, we are stripping a relationship of the foundation it needs to succeed.  When we embrace both–accepting what is expected of us and finding gratitude for what is given to us–we come alive.

Sadly, many people–especially women–assume if they give the benefits of the relationships to a partner, eventually the partner will accept the responsibilities. They rarely do. Why would someone suddenly take on the all the responsibilities of something if they have already experienced the benefits for free? (See: One Habit that Starves Your Marriage)

If you are willing to sacrifice for me without me ever sacrificing for you, why would I suddenly start putting your needs above mine?

If you are willing to reveal yourself totally to me–body, soul, and mind–without any commitment from me, why would I suddenly decide to commit to you?

If I already experience all the benefits of marriage without a lifetime commitment, the financial responsibility, and the legal ramifications of marriage, why would I suddenly ask you to marry me?

Some benefits have to be withheld until a partner is fully willing to embrace the responsibilities of marriage. If they aren’t, the relationship will probably never move forward.

Two Questions for Consideration

Am I attempting to enjoy the benefits of a relationship without experiencing the responsibilities? If I am, I’m cheating the other person and using them as an object rather than loving them like a person and they deserve better.

Am I giving someone the full benefits of a relationship while excusing them from the responsibilities? If I am, I’m allowing myself to be used rather than loved and I deserve better.


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