I see a patient who, after a two-year relationship of exquisite intimacy, decides to get engaged. As soon as the date is set, commitment panic grips the sweetheart. Everybody has either heard a story like this or experienced it personally; it’s the stuff of movies and newsreels. Boy meets girl, (or vice-versa) and they revel in love’s wonder until the attachment deepens, and then something happens to make her or him reconsider the commitment.

This panic often coincides with an event. It could be something as simple as a vacation or celebrating a holiday together, or more complicated, like purchasing a home together. The initial panic magnifies one’s ambivalences, fans resentment, and triggers faultfinding. Then comes the need to put some distance in the relationship. Slowly, they withdraw from the honey of love.

What do you say to someone whose sweetheart can’t make a long-term commitment to sharing the honey of love? I told my patient this story….

The Hadza tribesmen in Tanzania tell of a small, green and rust- colored bird called the “honey guide.” About the size of a robin, it is the beloved friend of the people because it points the way to life’s sweetness. When the honey guide calls to them, the Hadza whistle back to let the bird know they are listening. Then the bird leads them to the honey-laden beehive.

Before the Hadza eat the honey, they first break off a piece of the honeycomb and leave it for the honey guide to say thank you for showing them the way. If they didn’t do this, the honey guide would not come to them again.

Love is the honey bird: it’s available to us all, if we can hear its call and choose to follow it. You can’t run away from it, and you have to give it back if you want to keep getting it. That’s how you find your honey for life.