By Deb Morley
Those who have known me only the past seventeen years know me as a bi woman in a long-term, monogamous relationship. You may even know me as married. Those who have known me the previous seventeen years know more.
I was once asked, “What do you look for in a partner?” I remember pausing and thinking to myself, “What do I look for?” as I cocked my head to one side. “You know, what are the qualities you look for in a person? Whom do you choose to be with? How do you know you’ll be compatible?” continued my inquisitor. Compatible. The word hit me solid in the face and melted
down my chest into my heart. Scanning over the memories of lost loves, dashed hopes, and fantasies of having found “the right one,” the truth that I had been trying to begin, sustain, and/or find happiness in relationships with another with whom I was incompatible was startling. Incompatible. In the words of Dictionary.com, “(of two things) so opposed in character as to
be incapable of existing together… (of two people) unable to live together harmoniously.” It was so obvious. Why had I not seen it?
Part of the answer to this question existed in the word choice. Looking back, I realized that I had done very little active choosing of those whom I had gotten involved with but instead had participated in a passive acceptance of those who had chosen me. I need a tool, I thought. A method, a way to discern early on whether or not I am compatible with this person. Compatible. In the words of Dictionary.com, “(of two things) able to exist or
occur together without conflict.” I was on to something.
As this epiphany unfolded, the four directions emerged in my
mind’s eye as a pathway for moving forward, as a kind of compass for finding love:
North. Earth. The physical. Am I physically attracted to this
person? And, does this person match my desire for physicality
in my life? Movement of the body, hiking in nature, bending,
stretching, and sweating?
East. Wind. The mental. Are we a match intellectually? Not
exactly alike, but does this person’s way of thinking excite me?
Challenge me? Turn me on?
West. Water. The emotional. Are they in touch with their
feelings? Has this person done their work? Do they even know
there is work to do?!
South. Fire. The spiritual. Does this person have a spiritual life?
Their own beliefs that may differ from mine, but that connect
them with the universal spirit, the web of life, the energy that
lives within and beyond us?
And so, I returned to the game of love with my new tool, my
compass for finding love. It was a revelation. It empowered me to
make choices about whom I got involved with and why. Even if only two of the four directions were a hit, I went in with eyes wide open and more realistic expectations of what the relationship was and could ever be. And then I met my match who aligned well enough with my compass for finding love that we made a go of it. And if this were a fairy tale, I would now say “we lived happily ever after.” But this is not a fairy tale and life can be hard. I met my match who is the love of my life, and somewhere over the years,
I noticed that the needle of my compass for finding love had changed directions. It no longer pointed outward but pointed inward into me. Following this new direction has been essential.
What I have learned on this journey is that in order to truly
find love in the world I’ve had to find the love in me, for me.
So while aligning with the four directions was a useful tool that
helped me avoid some pitfalls and reinforced what I felt to be
true about the compatibility between my life partner and me,
a line from the last song ever recorded collectively by all four
Beatles, The End, says it best: “And in the end, the love you take
is equal to the love you make” (Paul McCartney, 1969).
Deb lives in Haverford, PA outside of Philadelphia with her wife
Gina and kitty cat Everett.