Are you settling for second best?
Love relationships can be exciting and exhilarating, comforting and reassuring. The deep feelings of a true love relationship can feel wonderful and delicious. Who wouldn’t want to experience and hold onto that experience?
The experience is not a problem in and of itself. It is when these delicious feelings distract us from seeing the shadowy side of our relationships that we can get into trouble — and cause us to miss out on happy, healthy relationships and our chance at finding true love.
When we focus on the good feeling parts of our relationship and our partner, we can miss those aspects that are more worrying. We can miss those things about our partner that are less delightful and down right destructive.
We can miss seeing how we twist and turn ourselves in order to satisfy our partner, denying our own wants and desires. That is not true love.
Years later we can look up and wonder, what happened to me?
Over the years, I have come to see through talking and working with other women, that there are lessons about true love that too many women learn far too late. Often, we are taught as women that we are responsible for the success of our relationships. The underlying message is that our relationships are more important than our own feelings and preferences.
We are taught to be nice, understanding, accommodating, and agreeable. These are lovely qualities, but we can use them to suppress our own wants and desires in favor of the relationship.
With the dynamic duo of this feminine mission and powerful feelings of love pumping through our veins, we can hand our power over in order to sustain the good feeling parts of our love relationship and ensure its success.
When focused on the success of the relationship, we fail to see how we disappear ourselves for the sake of love and miss the lessons revealed to us in the relationship.
There are 3 truths about love all women need to know to have happy, healthy relationships:
1. Saying “yes” when you mean “no” is hurting your relationship.
Saying “yes” when you mean “no” deprives your mate the opportunity to know the real you rather than an image you are projecting. You are depriving yourself the opportunity to be yourself and discover whether your mate really wants to be with the authentic you.
You deprive your relationship the opportunity to flourish because you are using up so much energy pretending. Not only does pretending expend tons of energy, it builds resentment along the way.
And here’s a little secret. Even though you are acting nice and agreeable, your partner can feel the seething resentment boiling below the surface. You are actually creating separation rather than connection. So, say “no” whenever you do not have a full-body “yes.”
When you say “no,” you allow space for your true wants and desires to bubble to the surface. When you know what you want, proclaim it. Who knows, your partner may find you even more attractive when you bask in the energy of your authentic “yes!”
2. Know that your love cannot change him (and neither can your anger or fear).
By love, in this case, I mean the withholding kind of love, the fear-based love where you suppress your own feelings and preferences in order to temporarily diffuse conflict.
If you offer more and more love when he becomes fearful, angry, judgmental, and allowing him to show up with you whatever way his emotions toss him about, you are reinforcing his behavior pattern.
Rather, the way you get the relationship you want is to love yourself by getting clear about your boundaries and maintaining them so that you do not have to “sit there and take it” when he gets all worked up. Rather than being a virtual punching bag, multiple options arise:
- You can remove yourself when he gets going and he may decide that he does not like losing access to you and does not like this version of himself, consequently shifting his behavior due to his own preferences.
- He may continue to let his emotions carry him away, not taking responsibility for his behavior and then you decide the relationship doesn’t work for you.
- You set and maintain clear boundaries and his behavior no longer impacts you. He gets to let his emotions loose while you go take care of yourself and you reconvene when you are both centered.
On the other end of the spectrum, your partner may not be emotionally expressive at all, while you express a torrent of emotion. You cannot make him express himself, but at the same time, you do not need to suppress yourself. If you feel something, feel it! If you want to know what he is feeling, ask him!
If he doesn’t like it and makes you wrong for being you, he may not be the one for you. Alternatively, if he observes you freely expressing yourself and admires it, he may decide to tune into himself just a little bit and share what he discovers with you. Either way, you get the relationship you want while being yourself.
3. Look for “red flags” that mean he doesn’t love you the way he should.
Jealousy and control arise from fear, not love. We can think: “He must love me if he gets jealous of my friends and wants me to be with him instead of them.” Or, “He doesn’t want me to talk to other men, because he loves me so much and wants me to himself.”
Nope! He is filled with fear that you will leave him because of some story he has going about himself, you, women in general, or life. He may believe that he doesn’t deserve love, you are too good for him, all women cheat, or nothing in life works out for him.
Whatever his story is, he lets fear control him. So, in order to feel better he needs to control you. If he controls who you see and what you do, he gets to limit or eliminate the situations that trigger his fear. It has nothing to do with love. In fact, it is devoid of love. He does not love himself, so he cannot truly love you.
Is this all of who he is and do you need to leave him? Of course not! Your job is to love yourself and decide what kind of relationship you want, establishing boundaries that help you to create that relationship.
Instead of staying home with him when he says he doesn’t want you to go out, you get to say: “I see that you are afraid. I love you. And, I am going to have coffee with John.”
If he doesn’t like it and badgers and berates you for spending time with others, then maybe you decide this is not the kind of relationship you want. If he learns to sit with his fear and manage it himself rather than projecting it onto you, then you can build compassion for his fear rather than take responsibility for it yourself.
Ultimately, you end up enjoying the expansion of your relationship while remaining fully in your power.
These truths about true love, among others, can be suppressed for far too long as we strive to maintain the image of the good wife or girlfriend.
I think it is time to drop the image, step into your power, and create your ideal relationship. Say “no” when you mean “no” and “yes” when you mean “yes.”
Establish and maintain your boundaries based on your own preferences. Engage with whomever you want, whenever you want! Be yourself, sourcing your own power and watch your love relationship thrive.
This post was originally published on YourTango.com