I’ve worked with many individuals over the years – students and clients alike – and one place I see people getting in their own way with relationships is when they put their relationships and dating life in a box.
When you cling to a vision of what a relationship should look like, you become attached and set yourself up for disappointment whenever the other person doesn’t match the picture you created.
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Let me give you an example of a couple I worked with, Rhonda & Warren (not their real names)…
Rhonda was a stay at home mother of two who loved her husband, but was getting frustrated because she and her husband, Warren, weren’t connecting anymore and he wasn’t making any effort to be romantic with her like he was in the beginning of their marriage.
From Rhonda’s perspective, every couple must have romance on a regular basis or it just doesn’t work. Rhonda’s idea of romance was flowers, surprises, hearing how much he loved her etc…Her picture of a perfect relationship included this.
Warren felt more like “What’s the point? I show her I love her every day by bringing home a pay check and helping her raise our kids.” His attitude was that the romance part naturally fades after time and as long as he kept providing for the family, that should be enough. That was his picture of what relationships were supposed to look like
Rhonda was feeling resentful and Warren couldn’t figure out why she was unhappy because he felt he was doing all the right things.
As we worked together I showed Rhonda how she could appreciate that Warren expressed his love in a different way to her, and with Warren, I showed him how much these small gestures of flowers and “I love you’s” went a long way with keeping Rhonda happy.
What really hit home for this couple was realizing how much they had jeopardized their marriage simply because they weren’t matching the picture each of them had created in their own minds. This was creating a big breakdown in their communication which just kept them stuck and spinning their wheels.
You see “Relationship” is all your collapsed history with another person or history of dating experiences. “Relating” is what’s happening right here and right now (present time).If you’re experiencing disappointment or have experienced disappointment, you end up continually bringing this to every interaction – taking you out of the present moment and instead relating from the past vs. the present.
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Think of relating like what happens when you go out on a date with a potential mate (or your current partner). You turn off your cell phones and carve out that time just for you and that other person with no distractions. You’re not in the past or the future, your only focus is the food, ambience and the good time you’re having.
Approaching your current or potential mates with “fresh eyes” and leaving all the (bad) history behind you every time you interact (relating) opens the door for much better communication and the opportunity to experience deeper intimacy (In To Me See!).