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Thursday, May 11, 2017

10 True Gifts of Love

In the magical uncertainty of new romance, every couple creates their own unique emotional language of devotion. Sometimes those treasured connections deepen over time and the relationship becomes a long-term commitment. But too often those wonderful beginnings don’t last.

For the four decades of my therapeutic career, I have listened to the sorrows of many committed partners struggling to regain what they have lost. They have shared their discouragement and confusion watching their initial hopes fade and seemingly unanswerable questions replace them.
How can we have given everything we could to our partners and yet have failed to keep our love alive? Why didn’t our total commitment to each other keep us together? What was missing in the way we treated each other? Is there anything we could have done differently? Can we do anything now to turn things around?
Having dealt with hundreds of these discouraged but still hopeful couples over many years, I have been able to help them refocus in a new way, giving them the answers they seek. I ask them to bring the following ten true gifts of love into their present relationship and watch those changes create new hope.
The 10 True Gifts of Love
1)    Supporting Your Partner’s Perspective even When it is not Yours
One of the most important experiences for all human beings is to believe that what they see, feel, and hear, is both validated and supported by those who matter to them. It is the absolute core of mental and emotional stability.
When couples have disagreements, it is all too common for them to impose their personal beliefs upon the other. Most people do not realize how desperately they fight to hold on to their own sense of reality, even if it means simultaneously erasing the other partner’s.
When couples fully accept that two true but different realities can exist side by side, they feel less need to deny what is real for the other. Instead, they search for a greater truth to encompass both of their realities, or they agree to disagree. True love does not allow one person’s truth to erase the others.
2)    Emergency Responsiveness
When either partner in a love relationship puts out a true SOS, the other is fully committed to help and support their highest priority.
Love deepens when both partners know that, in times of distress, they can absolutely trust that the other will be there, in heart, mind, and action.
As the complications of all relationships evolve, it is far too easy for people to take each other for granted, to let other priorities take precedence, or too ease to assume that calls for help are either not important, will lessen, or will be handled by someone else.
3)    The Forgiveness Haven
No matter how committed anyone is to quality behavior, he or she is bound to make mistakes from time to time. Those moments are deeply fragile and vulnerable for everyone. When intimate partners know they have a safe place in the other’s heart, they are better able to learn from their mistakes.
No partner should be expected to be perfect in their capacity to tolerate actions that hurt, but openness to why or how the other “slips” should always come first when love pervades.
4)    Respecting Each Other’s Inner Worlds
After intimate partners have been together for a while, they affect each other in more and more ways. Those mutual responses show up in several ways. Sometimes they react to experiences that come directly from what is happening between them in the relationship. At other times, something that happens between them triggers memories from the past, and may have little to do with their current relationship. Most often, it is a combination of the two.
When a current interaction activates a prior memory, especially one that is unresolved or traumatic, either partner may think that the reaction is about him or her, when it is not. That interaction creates an interpersonal conflict when it should not.  If people experiencing that triggered response understand that it is not coming from their current relationship, they can resolve it more successfully.
It is never easy for anyone to fully understand another’s internal world. There are multiple memories that drive people’s feelings, thoughts, or needs. It is crucial that both partners do not assume they have experienced life the same way.
5)    Memorizing What is Sacred
There are specific words and actions that can make each person either feel safe in his or her most vulnerable states or can create insecurity, self-doubt, and defensiveness. When people truly love each other, they know the difference between them, and don’t hurt one another by forgetting those that wound.
No matter how angry, hurt, frustrated, upset, irritated, or disappointed either partner gets, people who treasure each other don’t use their partners vulnerabilities irresponsibly. They also know what touches the heart, what soothes the soul, and what inspires the mind of the other.
6)    Shouldering the Load
At any one time, all relationships have access to resources from which to nurture and support each other. They can choose to allocate when they will be available, how much energy they want to put into any interaction, whether or not they want to offer support, and how present they will be when they attend.
When either partner is overloaded or unable to carry his or her fair share of the current load, the other partner willingly steps up to help without questioning the need. Devoted partners don’t keep score or worry that they might be taken advantage of if they have to give more in certain situations. They accept that there will be unexpected challenges that require more commitment and are ready to do that when necessary.
7)    Making Room for Each Other’s Individual Dreams
Even the most loving of couples can forget to encourage their partner’s separate paths to fulfillment. New lovers willingly push aside their individual goals in order to concentrate on those that are mutual. They understandably want their lives to intertwine and to grow stronger as a unit, and do not mind sacrificing personal dreams when necessary to make that happen.
As time passes, those back-burnered desires may re-emerge. Though they may have temporarily become lost in the couple’s commitment to mutual dreams, they begin to beg attention. Partners who respect and support those buried desires want them to happen. They know that some of their relationship priorities may have to be rescheduled, and the resources to make that happen must be willingly reallocated.
8)    Making Room for Each Other’s Broken Places
Whatever happens in life, no one who escapes sorrow. Though some have suffered more than others, everyone has had experiences of terrifying vulnerability, moments of humiliation, and anguishing loss.
When people truly love and respect each other, they are fully present and supportive when their partners express those memories and the emotions that accompany them. The do not challenge, invalidate, or question the reasons they feel that way.
In quality love relationships, partners realize that broken places naturally will emerge for both of them from time to time. They feel grateful that they can be there for each other when that happens.
When a sorrow feels either person’s heart, the other partner attends without judgment, gives support without the need to change the experience, and offers unconditional love during those moments can actually help those damaged places to heal.
9)    Attunement
From the first moments of life, there are specific kinds of interactions between children and their caretakers that create in those children a sense of being deeply understood and known.
Attunement is the ability to listen beyond what is being said, to see what is not being revealed, and to feel what is not being shared. When we feel treasured, we intuitively feel that our partners “get” us. We feel their genuine interest, their loving welcome, and their total devotion.  
People who love each other are deeply attuned to the thoughts and feelings of each other. They welcome the opportunity to pay exquisite attention to what the other needs, often before they are even apparent to the other.
10)                    The Freedom to be Transparent
The level of intimate connection between lovers is directly correlated to how authentic they can be with each other. The more open they can be with what they are thinking and feeling, the more they can know who the other truly is.
Yet, all truths are not always helpful or necessary in every situation. Sometimes the choice to withhold or to be more diplomatic is more caring. Successful partners understand discern how much openness is appropriate to each situation.
Intimacy is positively correlated with the partner’s willingness to share their internal worlds with each other. Those who seek a greater closeness do everything they can to practice resiliency and to reduce defensiveness so that transparency will grow.  
* * * * * * * * *
These ten behaviors are true gifts of love. Those who experience them in their most important relationships enjoy the sacred experience of being deeply known, fully accepted, and authentically beloved. Despite the energy and commitment it takes to achieve this kind of love, those who have made it happen are beacons of hope for those who are seeking the same joy.

Friday, April 28, 2017

"Why Did I Ever Leave You?"

New love is entrancing and brings out the best in most people. Sadly, those initial blessings often wear off, leaving many needing to end a relationship. When partners are in agreement that they both want to move on, those endings are just part of life and both people are willing to try again with someone else.

It is different when that decision is one-sided. If only one partner wants the relationship to continue while the other is ready to end it, the person left behind is often saddened and heartbroken, while the other must bear the guilt of leaving a once-beloved partner.
Most people who leave a relationship are ready to move on. But some, after time passes, begin to regret their decision. Once they have put the negative aspects of that past relationship behind, they begin to miss the good times left behind. Haunted by having left someone they perhaps truly loved, they wonder if they should have tried harder to make the relationship work, and begin to search for that lost love.   
They may find that their past partners are no longer available and that they’ve missed their chance. But sometimes they find out that a past love is currently unattached. The possibility that they might have another chance awakens a compelling desire to try again. Even if their feelings may no longer be reciprocated, they cannot walk away without finding out.  
I have personally observed many patients as they attempted to retrieve a past love relationship. Their journeys are hopeful and fragile. There have been multiple experiences for both people during the time they have been apart that may have changed their feelings for what they want in a relationship.  
But some actually do connect and flourish. If they are willing and ready to remember what prompted them to leave the first time, what could be different now, and how they must change to be successful, they actually can make it work, often more wonderfully than they were able to in the past.  
Over the years, I have made note of the most common reasons someone may leave a relationship prematurely. Partners who want to reconnect to an old love they’ve once left must make certain they understand what went wrong between them. Knowing whether their own characteristic behaviors were the problem can make the difference between succeeding or failing the second time around.
The Most Common Reasons People Leave Relationships Too Soon
1)     Fear of Commitment
The fear of premature commitment is one of the most common reasons that people state for leaving relationships. Those partners have difficulty understanding the difference between commitment and entrapment. They often feel pressure to make promises they may not be able to keep, especially on the other end of someone who is ready for a long-term relationship.
If one partner feels that the other wants a commitment and isn’t ready, he or she will sense that desire as a potential trap. Feeling locked into a relationship that might lose its allure feels too scary.
When a relationship no longer has new discoveries to experience, has continual conflict, or loses its attraction, most people pull back their energy and resources. The fear of commitment will logically become a fear of entrapment when relationships stop evolving and regenerating.
People who see commitment as entrapment may not be able to imagine a long-term relationship that doesn’t feel potentially confining or obligated. If they go back to a relationship they once left behind, they must redefine and resolve that fear, or the same behavior will likely recur.
2)     Lack of Readiness for a Long-Term Relationship
Many people feel unable to stay in a permanent relationship because they don’t feel wise or experienced enough to promise a future they cannot foresee.  They don’t know themselves deeply enough to predict what they might want someday, and are not ready to stop exploring other alternatives that might be better.
This inability and unwillingness to foresee what might happen is natural in young adults, but older people can also feel unable to predict who they might yet become. It is not wrong or necessarily immature to continually opt for pleasure, to choose a life of continuing adventure, to embrace constant new discoveries, and to enjoy novel situations.
There are quality people who should never be in a long-term relationship. Though those intertwinements offer security, shared memories, and mutual dreams for the future, they require that both partners maintain their devotion and continue to regenerate their love.
When people want that security but cannot give up their freedom, they must ultimately make a choice if they want to stay in a relationship. They may leave relationships that feel wonderfully satisfying, but anticipate they will need to move on someday.
3)     Going Back to an Unfinished Relationship
It is totally possible to love more than one person at a time. Many people leave relationships even though they still have strong feelings for the other person, and recommit to a new partner. They rationalize the leaving of their prior relationship because there were just too many problems, or they felt unfulfilled.  
After time elapses, the partner who is now in a new relationship begins to face its own problems. He or she begins to remember the magical moments of the past love. Negatively comparing the present relationship to the one gone, memories pervade consciousness and the present relationship dims in importance. The desire to go back to the old love intensifies and the present relationship becomes a casualty.
4)     Lack of Faith in Long-Term Successful Relationships
Childhood experiences compounded with sequential adult interactions heavily impact the trust anyone has in whether or not a long-term, quality relationship is even possible. Many people have had parents who have failed to stay together, often through disastrous interactions and painful outcomes.
When people allow their past experiences to determine their future options, they will love the romantic phases of new relationships but become easily discouraged when the lust/discovery/ honeymoon period wears off. Instead of energetically embracing that next emerging state of deeper friendship and commitment, they begin to focus on what isn’t going right.
People become what they anticipate and get better at those choices as they practice. If they are looking for problems, they will find them and assume they are unfixable. Their basic, underlying unconscious mind tells them continuously that all relationships are eventually doomed, and they begin to make that a self-fulfilling prophecy.
In order to make an old relationship work, those naysayers must change their ways of thinking by understanding where their attitudes came from and how those limitations have affected the outcomes of their relationships. Otherwise, going back to a lost love will not work any better than it did the first time.
5)     Choosing Easy over Challenge
Long-lasting, successful relationships take work and the partners within them don’t shirk that commitment. They know that their continuing regeneration is absolutely dependent on continuing to care deeply about each other and the relationship.
When relationship seekers don’t understand that basic principle or aren’t willing to put in the effort, they often pick partners who don’t ask for much of them. The relationship doesn’t need much, but also doesn’t offer much in the long run.
Boredom is often the result of a too-easy, too predictable relationship. All human beings seek security but also need novelty and challenge to be at their best. When relationship seekers opt for easy, they risk becoming involved in a relationship that will cease to hold their attention.
As boredom increases, most relationship partners seek novelty and excitement outside the relationship. The couple begins to spend less time and energy on the relationship, and the distance between them increases.
6)     Lacking the Skills to Transform Romantic Feelings to Deeper Love
When love is new, it is often spectacularly intense, and magically seductive. New lovers are spellbound. They are enraptured and captured by the experience of each other. Both put their best feet forward, keep their liabilities hidden, and devote themselves selflessly to the needs and desires of their new partners. They willingly put all other involvements on a back-burner, offering all of their resources first to each another.
People who have not learned the skills to transform their romantic duo into deep love and conviction come to a halt when the love/lust part of the relationship naturally wanes. They have had either unrealistic expectation that those feelings should always be there throughout the length of a relationship, or have never known the wonder of deeper love. When they are no longer enamored and caught up in the seductive process of new connection, they fear that they will never experience those feelings again.
 * * * * * * * *
Before anyone tries to go back to a prior love, they must look deeply into their own reasons for why they chose to leave before. Do they pick the same kind of partners that will never work no matter how hard they try? Do they feel that any permanent decision in their lives is doomed to end in entrapment? Are they just not long-term relationship material? Do they always regret their past decisions? Do they have faith that any long-term relationship will work? Do they pick people who don’t challenge them so they don’t have to think about long-term decisions? Have they never learned the skills to transform new love into mutually committed treasuring?
There are reconnections that do work, beautifully, but those are the exceptions, not the rule. The chances of success are much greater if people know why they left, have changed their behaviors, have learned the skills to do it better the next time around and have a willing partner at their side. When a person is ready to do those things and has a welcoming accepting partner, I have personally observed the heart-warming sweetness of these rekindled loves.











Friday, April 14, 2017

Relationship Alert - When Givers Become Takers

Newly romantic partners want to care for each other in every way they can. Ever watchful for any overt or covert expression of desire, they are attuned to their lover’s needs without resentment or obligation.

As they become committed to a long-term relationship, many of those same partners tend to give each other less of the exquisite attentiveness they had experienced when their love was new. The priorities that they put aside to make one another center stage gradually emerge.
Initially devoted relationship partners don’t intend to lose the focused caring they once so easily gave to each other. They anticipated that their initial levels of passion and romantic connection would understandably somewhat diminish as the relationship matured, but they welcomed the comfort and security that came with creating mutual experiences and significant memories.
Sadly, as most people feel more secure in a future together, many intimate partners forget that level of treasuring must be maintained. Those sacred and intimate moments that were central to their new love require recognition and regeneration to stay available. But, too often, as intimate partners relax into the comfort of a committed relationship, they can too easily forget how they once were the most important center of each other’s lives.
That process is further complicated when each partner doesn’t experience the lessened availability in the same way. What is important to one may not be as much so for the other. There are countless examples. Many men, for example, feel that their long-term partners are not as sexually interested as they continue to be and many women equally miss the emotional connection they once could count upon. Or, if both partners have careers, they may need to resurrect work obligations they’ve put aside when the relationship was new. Family obligations, kept submerged while the partners were focused on each other, now raise demands to pay tribute.
Whatever the causes, one or both partners have actually become less automatically available to one another. They were once each other’s first priority, easily entitled to ask for whatever was desired. Now, they may have to ask for what once was offered freely. Time, affection, attention, support, interest, energy, and priority, once bountiful, now often must be negotiated.  
These changes can happen very slowly and may go unnoticed by even the most devoted of partners. They still love cherish their relationship and are readily available during a crisis. That assumption can lure a couple into believing that they can still count on those sweet spots of automatic and complete availability whenever they might need to resurrect it.
Sadly, that is not true. Unless that depth of devotion and caring is continually regenerated, it can quietly diminish, leaving one or both partners and bereft at a time of need.
What do Couples Need to do to Keep Their Sweet Spots Alive?
1)    Stay Current
Many people who leave relationships regret their decision later, wishing they had tried harder before quitting. In the heat of battles that seemed unavoidable and unending or unable to regenerate discovery, they could not stop the disintegration in time. 
Life’s requirements intervene in all relationships. Legitimate unexpected challenges, chosen obligations, unresolved differences, and postponement of important interpersonal issues, can easily combine to keep a couple too busy to focus on each other’s needs.
As a couple moves from intertwined to parallel, many intimate partners begin to do the relationship in their own heads and forget to check out whether or not their other partners still think and feel the same way. They have forgotten who they were when every detail of their lives was mutually experienced and all their resources were combined and mutually allocated. It doesn’t take long before their initial deep connection can become a past memory, replaced by a pretense of intimacy that they believe is more alive and available than it is.
2)    Balancing Resources With Demands
All long-term relationships are subject to changing requirements and the subsequent need to redistribute resources. Some of those resources are subjective and others are objective, but both are important. Subjective resources include time, energy, compassion, availability, or emotional support. Objective resources might be allocation of finances, shifting of responsibilities, new means to increase resources, more efficiency in resolving problems, or sacrificing personal needs.
In spontaneously generous relationships, couples decide which partner’s needs should claim the relationship’s resources at any one time, and how that decision best benefits the relationship, both in the short and long run.
What is essential is that both partners feel hear, see, appreciated, and cared for because those decisions are made together. They have a clear sense of what their mutual values and ethics are and they talk openly about what each needs to make things work. They also understand that desires and needs will not always feel justified to either in the moment, but that both completely trust the fairness of the other to compensate when time allows.
3)    Agreement on Priorities - In Everyday Life and During Crises
When lovers are new to each other, they diligently search for the ways to agree on the major aspects of life. That includes how they behave with each other and also how they see the world the same way.
As relationship partners share this journey, some thoughts and feelings will be consciously or unconsciously suppressed to ensure that harmony prevails. Understandably, as the relationship matures, those previously submerged thoughts and feelings will emerge and create frictions that were not previously part of the relationship.
Successful couples are ever-ready to face those new disagreements and to remold their relationship in the process experiences together. They are well aware of the current emotional, physical, financial, and life crisis demands on their combined resource, and maintain flexibility to rearrange them in the most relationship-effective way they can.
Often, one partner may want some of those unexpected or chosen new demands more than the other or at different times. The commitment to fairness, to openness, to negotiation, and to compromise is clearly evident in couples who love each other want to keep it alive and regenerating. They trust that an imbalance is some situations or at some times, will be generously compensated in another. They know how to rate priorities and do everything they can to find agreement in those decisions.
4)    Special Availability During Crises
New lovers are each other’s first priorities whenever and however they can be. Whenever either reaches out for help, for sustenance, for reassurance, or for support, the other does everything he or she can to provide what is asked.
As the partners re-enter the world outside of their treasured intimacy, they realize that other priorities will limit the automatic availability they had. In quality relationships, both partners consistently re-evaluate their needs and availabilities to make sure they stay close to each other along the way.
A couple’s ability to update one another as changes in their individual needs emerge is crucial for this agreement to work. They also know that there might be situations where one may inadvertently let the other down. Both are committed to understand that there will be unexpected events, and some that cannot be changed.
In short, couples who stay in mutually generous relationships have each other’s backs. They are careful to not take advantage of one another and trust the other partner’s good intentions even if he or she cannot give what is asked.
5)    Remembering Their Automatic Love and Generosity
New love is a sacred and beautiful time in the lives of all lovers. The sweetness and non-judgmental acceptance both feel creates a sanctuary of comfort and confidence. Though it cannot last per se in exactly the same way, it can be remembered and saved as the treasure it was, and brought back when times are hard.
Couples who don’t want to slip into the trap of apathy and parallel lives feel the alarm of losing each other early in the game. When that emotional trumpet sounds, one or both call the other back to remember and recreate those original “sweet spots” where irritation and impatience were slow to come and compassion and forgiveness were abundant. They search for the place in themselves where they recognize how empty life would be without each other and how important it is to forever protect their connection.
* * * *
No person can be generous, available, caring, and willing to sacrifice for the other at all times, and all intimate partners, no matter how devoted, must choose self over the other at points in time.
Successful partners forgive each other during stressful times and trust that their partner will do the same for them. They trust each other’s thoughts, feelings, and reasons when those times happen. That helps them to return as soon as possible to their shared commitment of generosity and devotion.











Friday, March 31, 2017

Has Your Intimate Relationship Become a Pit Stop?

When a couple comes in to see me for therapy, I often start our first session by asking each of them the following question: “Where are you currently the most alive, the most self-respecting, the most interesting, and the most involved in your life?” 

If they are newly in love, the answer is most likely to be when they are together. Sadly, when they have been together for a longer period of time, they are more likely to innocently confess that they feel that way more often outside of their intimate relationship.  

Somewhere between the honeymoon stage and the commitment to a long-term partnership, many couples stop being spontaneously intrigued by one another and begin to search outside their relationship for more excitement and discovery.  

Some choose infidelity and risk the security of their primary partnership. Just as many others stay sexually faithful but still look outside the relationship to other interests. When one person does this at the expense of the other, that left-behind partner may end up becoming a pit stop for the other.  

There are two definitions of a pit stop. The first, better known to most, is the place where racing cars pause for fuel and service in the midst of an auto racing competition. Those pit stops are essential in-and-out sanctuaries that every race-car driver knows can make the difference between winning or losing.
But the broader definition of a pit stop is any brief interruption in a person’s preferred journey where he or she can get basic needs refreshed in order to move on to what is more important. In an intimate relationship, one partner is living an existence outside of the relationship that is richer and more compelling, while the other has become a glorified refueling station.
How do pit stops develop?
Discovery is the core element that keeps people spontaneously interested in the early stages of a new relationship. New lovers can’t get enough of one another’s taste, smell, thoughts, behaviors, cultures, social connections, family issues, religious and social beliefs, time, energy, and attention. They often put many of their other priorities on the back burner just to keep feeling what they are. There are so many delicious experiences and so much to learn that the partners seem marvelously content just focusing primarily on one another.
As those same partners commit to a long-term relationship, they are more likely to opt for predictability and security over new risks and challenges.  Those once-enamored lovers may have become good friends, but do they truly and urgently seek one another out again for new experiences? They can so easily lose the edge that once supported the mystery and curiosity that made their relationship so exciting.
What is likely to happen to an intimate relationship when intimate partners know each other so well that discovery is essentially over? What happens to a lover’s psyche when predictability overshadows the mystery and challenge of the unknown?

The absence of newness, whether intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, or physically, too easily becomes the same-old, same-old harbinger of boredom. No other feeling is as likely to entice a partner to search for those all-too-human desires elsewhere.
Too often, when people have been together for a while, they also stop sharing the experiences they’ve had outside the relationship. When they reconnect, they are more likely to share only limited expressions of logistical requirements or things that are more newsworthy.
What once was a mecca for interesting exchanges and mutual rehabilitation has slowly become a place to just minimally check in, regenerate, and prepare for the more demanding and intriguing challenges outside of the relationship. If one partner is doing that and the other is not, a pit stop has begun.
Those once-enamored lovers may have become good friends, but do they truly and urgently seek one another out again for new experiences?
Why Don’t Intimate Partners See This Coming?
This process can develop so slowly that many couples don’t realize that it is even happening. They have been led to believe that a stable, secure, predictable relationship is a healthy one. But situations are never static, even if they appear so on the surface. Every living system, relationship, or process is always either growing or decaying. Like continuing flowering plants that grow new blooms as the old fall away, they must be connected to deeper roots that can either nurture them into greater growth or diminish their nourishment over time.
That truth applies to politics, families, business, physical health, and love relationships as well. The partners in a stagnant relationship who do not challenge one another into continuing growth and discovery will eventually find themselves bored and apathetic to each other’s deeper needs. As their investment in the relationship lessens, so will their ultimate payoff decrease.
How can you tell if you’re becoming a pit stop for your partner?
Use this guide to answer the following ten questions.
1 = Never
2 = Occasionally
3 = More often than not
4 = Most of the time
5 = Almost all of the time
1)    When your partner comes home, does he or she try to find you right away? ____
2)    Do you believe your partner looks forward to seeing you after you’ve been away from each other? ____
3)    When you come into the room, does your partner immediately acknowledge your presence? ____
4)    Does your partner tell you that you are important, valuable, and desirable to him or her? ­­____
5)    Do you feel appreciated for the things you do for your partner? ____
6)    Does your partner anticipate your needs and provide support for them? ____
7)    When you need something, does your partner make those needs a priority? ____
8)    Does your partner seem to enjoy his or her time with you? ____
9)    Does your partner tell you that he or she misses you when you’re not together? ___
10) Does your partner look forward to doing things with you? ____
Now add up your scores:
41 - 50 You are still deeply appreciated for who you are and what you have to offer. Your partner looks forward to coming home and staying there.
31 - 40 You are recognized as an important contributor to your partner’s desires and happiness. You are a high priority.
21 - 30 Your presence in the relationship is starting to be taken for granted. You too often feel unimportant and last on the list.
11 - 20 You are in danger of being used as a launching pad as your partner takes off.
1 - 10   You have clearly become a pit-stop, a place where your partner just refuels in order to live his or her greater aliveness elsewhere.
Once you understand how important or unimportant you feel in your relationship, it is crucial to let your partner know that you need to rebalance your relationship. Tell him or her that, though you may have contributed to the current situation, you now need to distribute your relationship resources in a more fair and equitable way.
A partner who hasn’t realized that he or she has begun taking advantage will want to re-commit to more exciting adventures together. Sadly, those who like the advantages of a home sanctuary combined with the freedom to seek greater interests outside, are less likely to be receptive to changing the status. In either case, you will at least know where you stand and where your relationship is heading.



















Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Has Love Disappointed You?

If you are one of the many relationship seekers who have been repeatedly disillusioned in the past, you may be understandably wary of future relationships. It is difficult for most people to keep believing in lasting love when they have experienced too many failures.

With so much media advice available today, it would seem that most in the dating market would have found the relationship they want. Yet, most of the people I’ve seen have enthusiastically studied many resources on how to find a quality, long-lasting relationship, and still have not been successful. They valiantly struggle to keep their negative pasts from influencing their hopes for the future.
Though it may be totally understandable for discouraged daters to become bitter or cynical, they realize that those attitudes can put off a potential new partner. They want to stay positive and open, but often can’t help facing the next relationship more cautiously. A negative expectation can feel more self-protective, like emotional armor to insulate against the next feared heartbreak. Sadly, that same protection can become a prison.
When I work with people who have unsuccessfully participated in the dating search for some period of time, I can discern where they lie on the continuum between hardening and hope. Through those observations, I’ve seen how those attitudes and the behaviors that accompany them influence their relationship success.
To keep hope up and cynicism down, the goal for each “wounded dating warrior” is to find the right balance between self-preservation and continued openness as they enter a new relationship. Learning from the past and practicing more successful techniques for the future can help even the most legitimately wary relationship seeker hope again.
How to Leave Relationship Failure Behind
To let go of past failures and succeed in future partnerships, you’ll need to courageously explore and examine why you haven’t yet found lasting love. This deep searching can be uncomfortable, but it is the most promising way to make your next relationship really work.
Following are seven lists for you to fill out. The more you write on each list, the more the exercise will benefit you. When you are done, you will have a much more realistic view of what you need to do to find the relationship you desire.
1)    Similarities List
No matter how each of your past relationships may have seemed different from one another, there are always similarities. There are four categories under your “how-my-partners-have-been-similar” list. Write as many thoughts or memories as you can under each one.
What physical characteristics you have traditionally looked for in a partner.
What personality characteristics or behaviors you’ve consistently sought.
What you are looking for in terms of who that person is in the world (friends, ocation, family, etc.).
What kinds of interests that person has (spiritual, intellectual, physical, sexual, and emotional).
2)    Hope List
On this list, write down what you have always hoped would happen in your ideal relationship. How would your partner treat you? In what time frame would the stages of the relationship materialize? How would your partner feel about your family, beliefs, friends, past relationships, the work you do, and the things that are important to you?
Remember. The more you put on each list, the more you will understand how your thoughts and feelings have defined your search for a partner.
3)    Disappointment List
What has disappointed or disillusioned you in your past relationships? Has it been about the person’s disappointing behavior, misleading information, or negative surprises? Has he or she not responded the way you expected when you shared your own thoughts and feelings? What were you led to expect that didn’t happen the way it was promised? What did you find out about these past partners that you could not have predicted?
4)    Ideal Relationship List
How would you describe a perfect relationship?. What would you look like as a couple to others? How would you handle conflicts, crises, or disappointments together? What would love-making be like? How would you and your partner parent together someday? What about spiritual beliefs and financial commitments? How would the household chores be prioritized? If one of you were in need, how would the other respond?
5)    Personal Failure List
This list is very hard for many people, but critical for your future relationship success.
Write down how you believed you may have contributed to past relationship failures, (even if you thought your partners were more at fault). Be as honest as you can about any of your personal liabilities as a relationship partner. If you were somehow able to have every person you’ve ever loved or been loved by in the same room, and they were to be absolutely authentic, what would they say in common about you that ultimately caused them to leave the relationship? 
6)    What I Need to Leave Behind List
From the five lists you’ve comprised so far, look carefully at the way you’ve repeated behaviors that haven’t worked in the past, and where your expectations have not been realistic. Let go of any attitudes or beliefs that may have sabotaged your past relationships. Write down how you can more successfully change the things you can and to accept the things you can’t.
The most important attitude to leave behind is stereotyping future partners that might stop you from seeing beyond your past biases. Even though it is normal to use past experiences to help predict future ones, rigid expectations can keep you closed to possible adventures you have not experienced before. Use your past for lessons, but don’t allow it to determine your future.
7)    What I Need to Take with me Into the Future List
Go back to that hypothetical room full of your old flames. With the same truth serum, each will now tell you what they truly loved and treasured about you, even if it didn’t turn into a long-term relationship. Also gather feedback from other social sources like honest friends or family members, mentors who have guided you, and your own sense of who, and what, you believe a wonderful person truly is like.
On this list, write down any attributes, attitudes, behaviors, values, or accomplishments that you are proud of. Though it may be hard to believe, many people are more comfortable listing what is wrong with them than what they feel good about. Don’t hold back here. This list should contain those qualities that make you feel valuable, desirable, and worthy to anyone.
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The last part of this exercise will help you in what you look for in a partner and how you present yourself to that person.
1)    Sum up each list. Try to get to the essence of what it tells you about yourself.
2)    Decide what attitudes, ideas, and behaviors you are going to leave behind and what you want to take through your window to your new relationship process.

3)    Make a plan as to how you are going to practice your new behaviors.

4)    Now, put yourself aside for a moment, and pretend instead that you are going to look for a perfect partner for your dearest friend. This will help you maintain a useful perspective.

5)    Present who your “friend” is to that new partner with authenticity and pride.

6)    Tell that person everything that is important about your “friend” and what kind of partner he or she is looking for.

7)    Now imagine the most perfect responses that potential partner would have to what you’ve shared with him or her.

8)    Make the decision as to whether you should pursue the relationship.

Hopefully, you are now much better prepared to begin your next relationship with a greater chance of success than you’ve had in the past. You’re clear about who you have been, who you are now, what you have to offer, and what you need in return. Your clear and honest awareness of self will help you determine whether a new partner is right for you from the beginning of the relationship.