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Attention Isn’t the Same as Intention

Dating bloggers read other dating blogs. And dating gurus watch other dating gurus. One Holy Grail of a dating guru man is Matthew Hussey. His advice is both cathartic and chilling. Direct but compassionate. He described something so eye-opening: “Attention isn’t the same as Intention.”

In his video, he described two situations in which spanned different lengths and intensity. Both were different, but at their cores, they portrayed the same result. They demonstrated that attention, whether that be someone’s investment, time, money, energy, and emotion, can all be fruitless if there’s no intentional motivation for that seed to grow and blossom. You can feed and feed something, but if you have no intention of reaping from is it, is it worth it?

Someone and/or both people can enjoy the moment- yes, that’s possible. You can bathe in the sun and revel in that momentary bliss- if that’s what you want. But only if you want to. Matthew Hussey also asks in his video, “Can you do X, Y, and Z, and still be happy with it, without it turning into nothing else but a happy memory?” If the answer, is “yes,” then do it.

Both situations, the long and the short, the intense and the gradual, happened for both of me personally. I just got out before more ‘spoilage’ could result.

I had dated a guy called ‘A’ casually for 1.5 months and more seriously for another month before he had to move. It was abrupt and I was overwhelmed with loss. Even after we parted, we still missed each other and were obviously still into each other. For the next half a year, we still checked in each other’s lives and ironically, got even closer though we were hundreds of miles apart. That summer, I decided to visit him.

What culminated was the intense. We had spent a continuous week-long vacation together where he lived. We slept together, ate together, traveled together, woke up together, and basically, lived together. We went to new sites and made experiences with the drop back of stark nature around us. It was phenomenal. And risky. But it was worth it to me to have those memories.

But after I came back, I felt my expectations creeping up and my longing swell. I wanted him to come back to me, where I was. And I told him so. But he didn’t. I was utterly heartbroken- a third time. I had given attention and wanted intention.

The next story, is interwoven with the previous story. While I was in this situationship with ‘A’, I had met ‘B.’ Obviously, he’d be my archetypical rebound. But he wasn’t. We had deep conversations and I opened up about ‘A’ to him. And I was honest about my emotional fragility and where I was in the process. And our intimacy had its own sphere. We doted on each other. We had a long, gradual, and good thing for 7 months. He lived an hour away from me and we had different schedules, but we always made time for each other so I thought attention was enough… I, however, deep down knew, I kept him, right at arm’s length; I lacked intention. Just at the point, where I knew I wanted more, when I was falling for him and ‘A’ was no longer in my heart, was when ‘B’ pulled out. I received attention and did not want intention, till much later, much too late.

Neither was ideal.

Both people need to receive and give attention and both need to have the intention. Intention without attention is an empty promise. Attention without intention is an empty relationship.

Both experiences, however, deepened my understanding of what I truly want. It also made me also learn not to overestimate attention as intention, and as well, that intention can’t carry everything.

So readers, if you must receive, receive intentionally. If you must enjoy, enjoy freely. If you must give, give attentively. But if you must love, love attentively and intentionally.

Author Profile

Sarah Suhaimi practices 명음 by day and the art of dark chocolate bar swindling by night. She is currently working closely with a local Pittsburgh non-profit that serves sex-trafficked victims, Living in Liberty, as a volunteer and grant proposal writer. She founded the Southeast Asian Student Alliance (SEASA) at her university, and, as well, the "Offer Islam Campaign." Her works vary from prose to poetry to articles. Her published works include, ‘The Home of an Immigrant’s Daughter’ in the Art Catalogue for the 2012 Dublin Biennial, Dublin, Ireland and ‘Hidden Beauty Reveals Itself (Intellect Vs Instinct)’ in the Art Catalogue for the 2011 Florence Biennale VIII, Florence, Italy.

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  1. “Intention without attention is an empty promise. Attention without intention is an empty relationship.”

    I had to re read these to make sure I understood the full impact and I love it. its so clear. A really sincere and insightful post.

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