"I’ve recently ended a loving, healthy relationship (after three years of dating) due to my partner’s unwillingness to make a long-term commitment. This was someone I deeply loved who was right for me in many ways, and I am struggling to understand why this has happened and what I need to do to go forward. How do I come to terms with this loss so that my heart is open in the future and I can move on to something even better?" – Jennifer
First of all, I acknowledge you for doing something that takes tremendous courage and strength. You tackled the temptation to settle for less than a truly good relationship and you are now in a transition process.
Commitment in a long-term relationship is essential to the health and well-being of both partners. Knowing that you are with someone who loves you deeply and who places the relationship at top priority gives you emotional safety to deal with the problems and issues that invariably come up.
Commitment draws a boundary around the relationship, making it a safe refuge from the ups and downs of the world. It says, in essence, that we treasure our connection and are willing to do whatever we can to protect, nurture and maintain it. With that comes a reduction of fear and an increase in safety that allows both people to be themselves, speak their truth and negotiate their needs with respect and love.
Without a real commitment, fear runs rampant, setting off reactions that act as a destructive force to your connection. If you can’t be really sure that you’re there for each other and firmly anchored in the relationship, then your hearts cannot be open and vulnerable. You will perpetually hold yourselves back, unable or unwilling to really connect. This will starve your relationship of its lifeblood, which is the love and nurturing that are the whole purpose in being together.
Recognizing that you were not getting that kind of commitment from your partner and ending the relationship sends a powerful message to your unconscious, which is that you will not accept anything less than a loving, truly committed relationship with the right partner. Even though you are in pain now, you have taken a stand that will move you in the direction of a complete relationship.
When we stop accepting "less than," we open the door for much more. You certainly have grief and loss to move through. Take the time that you need for this process. Remind yourself frequently that as good as this relationship was, there is another level of rewarding connection that happens when you and your partner are equally committed. Your heart will naturally open up once again as you become comfortable with the knowledge that you are willing to stand up for yourself, even in the face of tremendous loss, in order to ensure your emotional health and well-being.
Trust in yourself, continue to practice self-care and you will be able to trust others again and thus create an even better relationship in the future. Be sure and read Temptations of the Single Girl so that you can re-write your process for dating and catch these incomplete relationships much more quickly, say "next!" and swiftly move on!
About the author: Nina Atwood, M.Ed., LPC, is a nationally known psychotherapist, author of five self-help books, and frequent expert media guest. Read Nina’s transformational books; for women: Temptations of the Single Girl: The Ten Dating Traps You Must Avoid, and for men: Date Like a CEO: Leadership in Life and Love for Men. To successfully date online, get Nina’s $0.99 cent eBook Internet Dating for the Savvy Single. Get loads of free advice at www.singlescoach.com.
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