Building a healthy relationship with yourself and with others

Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

“He abandoned the relationship because she’d make a perfect wife and staying would leave him no other choice but to marry her.” ~ David Burrus

Romantic relationships offer some of life’s greatest joys. They can also cause great pain. As we open ourselves up to another person, we leave ourselves vulnerable to rejection and abandonment, thus fueling some of our deepest insecurities. David Burrus’s quote is talking about a guy who leaves a relationship because he knew the woman would make a perfect wife, but what the real takeaway is this, (1) many of us (notice I said “us”) are guilty of self-sabotage and (2) many of us aren’t honest and upfront about not being ready for a certain situation, thus leaving the other person confused and heartbroken.

Do you have a pattern of being attracted to an emotionally unavailable partner who is emotionally protected and difficult to get close with? Or do you have history of pushing away the sort of person who is available, caring, and easy to get close with? Some people are guilty of one of these, and some are guilty of both. There are various reasons why people have a pattern of being attracted to emotionally unavailable people or have a habit of pushing away a good person. Some of those reasons are: (1) They fear if they get to close, they will lose themselves, their individuality, and/or freedom; (2) Intimacy means revealing their true self and they are afraid to do so; (3) they are guilty of distant intimacy; or (4) they are guilty of constant intimacy.

I want to elaborate a little more on distant and constant intimacy. Distant intimacy means shielding yourself from being rejected, abused, or controlled in a relationship. Being emotionally aloof allows you to feel less vulnerable. As a result, you don’t allow yourself to personally invest in a relationships – this is your “safety zone”. But it doesn’t allow you to feel the connection and closeness that you long for. Intimacy from a distance is not satisfying because there is less emotion, less passion, and less connection. And the sad truth is, nothing risked, nothing gained.

On the other side of distant intimacy is constant intimacy – The “needy” person who desperately wants love, but never feels good enough to allow someone to truly love them. Any distance in the relationship causes thoughts of being cheated on or abandoned. So, the anxious partner fills this space with text messages, phone calls, and everything they can to get the reassurance they need. Ironically, the partner who feels unworthy of love will often fall in love with someone who is unwilling to return it. As a result, they enter into a toxic relationship that only reinforces each other’s deepest scars. The distant intimacy partner pushes away the constant intimacy partner, who then tries harder to earn love. The distant intimacy partner will then push them away even harder, putting the relationship into a spiral of confusion, hurt, and painful disconnection.

Here are ways you can stop self-sabotaging your relationship(s):

  • Understand your attachment Are you needy/clingy? Are you distant?
  • Identify your triggers. Are there certain things that trigger self-sabotaging behaviors?
  • Decipher the past from the present. Sometimes you have self-sabotage behaviors because you are allowing the past to impact the present.
  • Be mindful of your behavior. ALL of us have issues we need to work on. It’s important to know what yours are – once you know, you can begin to work on them.
  • Learn to communicate. I cannot say this enough. COMMUNICATION is important in all relationships (romantic or not). It’s the lack of communication that often times lead to issues/problems.
  • Realize you are not the center of your partner’s world. The truth is, they are their own person and they are having their own life experience. No matter how much they love you, you are not their whole life.
  • Know that it’s your own expectations, not other people’s expectations, that cause your disappointment. Some of your expectations are not realistic, and in some cases, it isn’t your partner’s job to meet them.
  • Be honest with yourself. Sometimes it’s the lies you tell yourself that hurt you.

“Sometimes it’s not that two people aren’t right for each other. It’s more like the timing wasn’t right.” ~ Author Unknown

As 2016 starts to wind down, some of you vowed to find love this year, but it hasn’t happened yet.  As you are on your journey to finding love or allowing love to find you, keep in mind that there are some things you can control and some things you can’t.  One of the things you can’t control is timing.  Timing and circumstances play a major role in your love life.  You may be telling yourself that you’ve met the right one, but it was the wrong time.

I believe that there are several people in life with whom we could successfully and happily spend and enjoy life with, but the one we ultimately end up being with comes down to timing. You can have chemistry with someone. The two of you can have similar life goals, values, morals etc., but timing is the essential part of the equation.

At the end of the day, meeting someone great is rare. It’s not something that you can just walk away from.  Many have asked the question, “Why do we sometimes meet someone great when the timing isn’t great?” Perhaps it’s a test, a test to measure our faith and patience, to see if we can stand the test of time, until the time becomes “right”. We can wish for the right time, a different time, but the bottom line is this, with bad timing, you must have a little faith and a little patience. It doesn’t mean that two people aren’t meant for each other, it just means they must wait for that right moment. Sometimes it’s not that two people aren’t right for each other. It’s more like the timing wasn’t right.

“Don’t wait for the right person to come into your life. Rather, be the right person to come to someone’s life.”

It seems that I constantly see social media posts where people are talking about relationships.  One thing I have noticed in a lot (not all) of those posts is that people are always talking about what they need, what they want, etc. Don’t get me wrong, we ALL have needs and want to be with someone who can take care of the majority of our needs (no one can take care of all of our relationship needs), but what I find is that their posts come across self-serving. Relationships should be a two-way street.

I’m sure some of you remember Seth Smith’s article, “Marriage isn’t for me.”  The title led you to believe one thing, but when you actually read the article, you found that his message was, “a true marriage (and true love) is never about you. It’s about the person you love–their wants, their needs, their hopes, and their dreams. Selfishness demands, “What’s in it for me?” while Love asks, “What can I give?” Many people go into a relationship expecting to gain something instead of giving something.

In addition to trying to get something from a relationship instead of giving, some people also have an unrealistic expectation that relationships, the ones that are supposed to be, are effortless. I once read somewhere, “People tend to expect love in two extreme forms – either wanting it to be too easy or accepting that it’s too hard. When you’re in love, the love comes effortlessly. Kisses come without effort. Wanting to jump their bones should come effortlessly. But relationships do not fit effortlessly. Otherwise, what would make the good ones so special?” Just because a relationship may require some level of effort that doesn’t mean it’s not meant to be.  I also read once, “Common sense reveals that some of the best things in life demand effort and prove worthy of whatever amount of labor we endure in the pursuit. The best relationships require work…” I think there is a misnomer with what some people consider, “work” or “effort”.  In order for two people, with different personalities, different experiences, different backgrounds, and the list goes on, to succeed in a relationship, it does require some level of effort, and the older the two people are, the more “effort” it may require.

Now allow me to add a caveat here, it is possible for someone to captivate you effortlessly, without even trying, but that doesn’t mean the relationship will be effortless. Those who live in a fairytale world and think that they are going to find their Prince Charming or Miss Right and it is going to be effortless are delusional and may find themselves 80 years old and still alone.  It’s important to remain open – remain open to the fact that the one God has for you may require some level of effort.

“Be with someone who loves you more than you love him”

When I was growing up, my dad would often tell me, “You need to be with someone who loves you more than you love him.” As a teenager and young adult, I thought that it was important that two parties equally love each other; however, as an adult, I now see what my daddy was saying.

Allow me to state that I have no empirical evidence to back the statements I am about to make. My statements are based purely on observations and conversations. There were no studies done to get data to backup my claim. 🙂 For many years, I have studied relationships, talked about them on the radio and on TV. I am, by no means, an expert on the subject. I started studying relationships because I wanted to learn how to be better at relationships. When my dad said that I should be with someone who loves me more than I love him, what he was saying to me is that if a man loves a woman more than she loves him, he will do everything within his power to make her happy and not lose her. He won’t leave any room for “Jody” to come in and take his woman. When a man loves a woman more than she loves him, her needs, desire, and wants will be very important to him.

During my observations and conversations, I noticed that when the man said he knew instantly that she was the one, the relationship seemed to have lasting power. Now, keep in mind, there are exceptions. My statements aren’t 100% absolute. They are based on a majority. Okay, now back to what I was saying. Those couples where the man instantly knew the woman was the one, some of those relationships didn’t require an extended courtship. Three couples come to mind and in two of those, the couples were married within in 6 months of meeting one another and are still going strong 25, 30 years later. The other one, they had a longer courtship, but they are still together 20+ years later. Now, it doesn’t require a man to instantly know the woman is the one for the man to love the woman more than she loves him. I just used those three as an example. Sometimes the man doesn’t instantly know, but he is still capable of loving her more than she loves him.

My “research” showed me that in most instances (not all, but most) when the woman loved the man more than the man loved the woman, those relationships didn’t last. We (women) are emotional, which means that we tend to be emotionally needy. If the woman loves more, nine times out of ten, her emotional needs are probably not being met, and when a woman’s emotional needs aren’t being met, she’s unhappy, and when a woman is unhappy, the relationship is probably not healthy. We’ve all heard the expression, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” or “happy wife, happy life.” When a man loves a woman, I meant truly loves a woman, he is going to do everything within his power to show her how much she is loved, and when a woman receives love like that, she is going to want to do everything within her power to show her man she appreciates him. It’s this type of reciprocation that creates a lasting, healthy, loving relationship.

Second Time Around

There’s a song by Shalamar, entitled, “Second Time Around”. Some of the lyrics are:

The second time around
Ooh, the second time is so much better, baby
The second time around
And I’ll make it better than the first time

You know I really love you
And I paid for my mistakes, yes I did, girl
The more I try to hide my feelings, baby
This old heart gets in the way and love won’t let me wait

The second time around
Girl, with me it’s better than the first time
The second time around
Let’s do it one more time, say it again

The second time around
All that I’ve been through, I’ll do it again just as long as I’m with you
The second time around
The second time

This morning I read a quote that said, “There are some things you just can’t go back to, if it didn’t work the first time, what makes you think it will work a second time.” As I was reading the quote, it made me think about the aforementioned song, and then I asked myself the question, When it comes to relationships, can you really do a “Do Over”? Sometimes relationships don’t work out simply because the timing was all wrong; sometimes relationships don’t work out because of irreconcilable differences; and sometimes relationships don’t work because you are with the wrong person.

Relationships in general, take a lot of work and effort by both people involved. We have become a society that thinks it’s easier to walk away than it is to make it work. We have adopted the mentality that there is always someone else out there for us. Allow me to add this, I am not suggesting you “settle” in a relationship. What I am saying is that if you are expecting “perfect”, perfect doesn’t exist. If you are in a relationship with someone who is the wrong one for you, no matter how much work or effort you put into it, it’s just not going to work. If you are with someone with whom you cannot work through your differences, no matter how much you may love them, it’s just not going to work. If you’ve met the one with whom your differences aren’t so different where it destroys the relationship, you’ve met someone you have similar life goals, values, and morals, but you met them at the wrong time, there is a chance that Second Time Around could work.

People often quote Maya Angelou, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” I, too, am guilty of using that quote. One day I said that quote to a friend of mine and then it hit me, yes, this quote has some validity, and it is something you should pay attention to; however, I am not the same person today that I was 10 years ago. If they put my life on display, I would probably be embarrassed by or ashamed by some of my past actions. If a person witnessed a certain behavior I displayed ten years ago and judged who I am, what my character is based on that one action/behavior, is that really fair?

Honestly, I don’t know if second time around can work. I believe we can all find data that shows it has worked for some and it hasn’t worked for others. I don’t think there is a global answer. It is specific to the parties involved. What I do know is that if two people equally want change to happen, equally want to make it work, equally put in the time and effort, equally honor each other, equally commit to the commitment, equally give love, respect, honesty, communication, consistency, and show common courtesy, second time around can work.

“In order for a relationship to have staying power, the other person’s feelings must be a priority for you.”

I woke up this morning thinking about an article written by Seth Adam Smith, entitled, “Marriage Isn’t for You” One day Seth shared with his dad his fears and anxieties about marriage and his dad told him, “Seth, you’re being totally selfish. So I’m going to make this really simple: marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy.” My father’s advice was both shocking and revelatory. It went against the grain of today’s “Walmart philosophy”, which is if it doesn’t make you happy, you can take it back and get a new one. No, a true marriage (and true love) is never about you. It’s about the person you love–their wants, their needs, their hopes, and their dreams. Selfishness demands, “What’s in it for me?” while Love asks, “What can I give?”

As I was reading the excerpt from the article, I thought about how important those words really are for any committed relationship to be successful. If both people in the relationship are givers, are making the other’s happiness, needs, wants, dreams, and hopes a priority, how can they not be successful? Often times, relationships fail because usually one person is doing more of the giving. Giving should be 100% on both sides. When you are in a relationship with someone who truly loves you and loves you selflessly, you won’t find yourself in a position where you have to tell them how to treat you, how to love you, or how to respect you. Their true, genuine love for you will make them want to do that naturally. There’s a quote that says, “Someone who loves you wouldn’t put themselves in a position to lose you.” If that person is not making your happiness, needs, wants, dreams, and hopes a priority, they are putting themselves in a position to lose you. Everyone deserves a love that is patient, a love that is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13: 4-7)

“Throw your heart over the fence and the rest will follow.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale

I once read, “To keep from being disappointed, we sometimes lower our expectations or avoid taking chance. When we follow our heart, even at the risk of disappointment and pain, a world opens up we might not otherwise have entered.” In life, often times we deprive ourselves of blessings because of our fears. We are afraid to apply for that new job. We are afraid to step outside of our comfort zone and try something new. We are afraid to open our hearts to allow love to come in. We miss out on so much because we have decided it is “safe” to not take a risk. Quite naturally, there are no guarantees that everything will turn out the way we hoped, but what if it does.

What if you applied for that job and it took you into a new and exciting direction? It was BETTER than you could have imagined. What if you tried something new and you really enjoyed it? You wondered why you waited so long. What if you opened up your heart and allowed someone to come in? Yes, it is a risk to love. What if it doesn’t work out? Ah, but what if it does. We spend our lives on the safe side of the fence. In doing so, we miss out on so many wonders in life. The fence is the limits you place on yourself; the boundaries you have put in place; and the restrictions you placed upon yourself. “Throw your heart over the fence and the rest will follow.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale

When the words, “I love you” aren’t enough

One of my favorite pastimes is people watching, so as I was out and about today, I was people watching. Of course there were couples everywhere. It’s a holiday weekend; people are usually spending time with the ones they love. As I was people watching, I was “observing” various couple dynamics. I think my heart does a little dance when I see a couple who appears to clearly be in love. On the opposite end of the spectrum, it saddens me, in a way, when I see a couple who appears to just be coexisting. This blog is for those couples who are just coexisting. One of the worst feelings in the world is to be in a relationship and feel alone. Have you ever heard of “separate togetherness”? You are in a relationship, but you seem to be living two separate lives. Your union is not an “inclusive” union.

Sometimes you feel lonelier in a relationship than you do when you are not in a relationship. Loneliness is a very painful feeling. Yes, relationships are a lot of work. They require effort. Saying the words, “I love you” isn’t enough. If you are in a relationship where it appears that you are the only one putting in work, you may be in the wrong relationship. If you are in a relationship and you feel second to everything going on in your mate’s life, you are probably in the wrong relationship. If your partner makes you feel like you are an option instead of a priority, you are probably in the wrong relationship. If you’ve shared with your partner what you need and want from a relationship and he/she just doesn’t seem to be willing to want to do the things that make you happy, you are probably in the wrong relationship. If it’s the holiday weekend and you are spending it alone, you are probably in the wrong relationship. If it doesn’t appear that your mate has your back or you can’t depend on him/her, you are probably in the wrong relationship.

It’s human nature to want to be first in your mate’s life. Even when you and your mate are apart, it’s human nature to want to know that your mate thinks about you and misses you. Telling someone, “I love you” doesn’t sustain a relationship. Love is an action. When you are in a relationship, you SHOW your mate love. It’s important to know your mate’s love language. When you know your mate’s love language, it helps you better understand how they need you to show them love. The best relationships are reciprocal. If you are doing more of the giving and your mate is doing more of the taking, it may be time to reevaluate the relationship. In a relationship, if one person is always the giver and the other is always the taker, over time, resentment is going to build. Love should make your heart do a dance. Love should bring you happiness, not sorrow. Love should put a smile on your face. Love should not stress you, it should comfort you. Simply saying the words, “I love you” is not enough to make a relationship work.

“Love is not finding someone to live with. It’s finding someone you can’t live without.” ~ Rafael Ortiz

The first time I heard the above quote, I thought to myself, “Isn’t that a little creepy? You can’t live without a person…sounds obsessive.” Now that I am older and a little wiser, I see that quote totally different. Often times in relationships we settle. We may not be happy. Our needs may not be met, but we stay. For those of you who have settled, you are not alone. Many people have settled, but it’s important for you to know that somewhere out there is that person you feel happy to love and they feel happy to love you back. You will feel safe in his/her arms. Somewhere out there is a person you are truly meant to be with – that person you connect with heart and soul. You will never find happiness in settling and it’s not fair to either one of the people involved. When you settle, you always feel like something is missing. You never really truly feel happy in your relationship. You often find yourself longing for something more. We are so programmed to find that person we can live with, but when you find that person you can’t imagine your life without, you’ve found something truly beautiful. “Love is not finding someone to live with. It’s finding someone you can’t live without.”

“Our greatest joy and our greatest pain comes in our relationships with others.” ~ Stephen R. Covey

Sometimes I think in a previous life I must have been a counselor. LOL.  This morning, a co-worker was talking to me about a current relationship, and picking my brain on the situation. A question presented itself, “How do you know if your relationship is over?” I had my own personal thoughts on the subject, but what may tell me a relationship is over may not be applicable to the next person, so I did a little research and decided to use the words of others instead of my own.  🙂

“When you first met you thought that the two of you had been touched by the same star.  Then something happened.  Love began to crumble. You made excuses. There was tension when you were together.  But you reasoned that it was better than being lonely.  Because of one’s fear of the monster called “Alone” too often people stay in relationships long after these have ended emotionally, physically.

Even with college students in new relationships a break-up can create overwhelming sadness and extreme stress. The University of Georgia Health Center has an entire page devoted to ending relationships.

The United States Census Bureau reported in 2011 that the latest figures compiled in 2009 indicated that 83 percent of all currently married couples had made it to their  fifth anniversary with about 55 percent married at least 15 years.  However, if you look closely at the numbers half were separated and these did not figure into the stats.  Also there are no figures for the un-divorced; that is, those no longer wishing to stay married but for various reasons, oftentimes financial, remain together.

35 Questions and Thoughts 

  1. The most important question to ask yourself is this: In your heart of hearts do you believe that he or she is the one and only?
  2. If your answer is “I’m not sure” in fact you may be sure, but you are afraid to be alone.  So ask again, “Is this person the one or just the one for now?
  3. If he or she is the one for now, then read through all of these thoughts and decide how to proceed so that you do not end up being stalked or find yourself at the mercy of a raging, jilted lover.
  4. Make a promise to yourself that you will wait one week before saying “It’s over” so that you can think about when you began to question the relationship; that is, what pushed you over the edge.
  5. Before saying anything at all, write out the pros and cons of the relationship.
  6. Consider something called “the weighted average.” What if you make a list of 10 positive qualities and only one negative.  If the negative quality includes something such as severe addiction or abuse – that one trait outweighs all of the positive qualities.
  7. Write out the 5 qualities about the other person that helped you to fall in love. Was it kindness, empathy, the ability to listen, generosity of spirit, honesty?
  8. Write out at least 2 experiences that brought the two of you joy. Now ask yourself, “Can we find that place of happiness again?”
  9. Review your notes and ask again, “Is it time to say, ‘Good-bye?’”
  10. In a completely rational way ask yourself, “If he or she were to be breaking up with me, what are the words that I would want to hear?”
  11. Start from a positive position—“We have shared happy times together.” Then name two or three.
  12. Next state the reality—“Something is not working between us.”
  13. Express your need—“I need to move on.”
  14. Be willing to listen, calmly, to the other person’s reaction.
  15. Decide in advance not to argue. Do not try to counter angry words. Simply listen and say, “I know this is painful.”
  16. Acknowledge how difficult is it to say the words, “It is over.” Explain briefly that you have considered your decision carefully.
  17. Be firm. “I am not telling you this so that you will change, or do things differently. I am telling you this because I feel that this is the end of the road for us.”
  18. Decide how to answer the other person when he or she says, “Couldn’t we give it another try?   Can we go to counseling together? “
  19. Giving it another try is often dependent upon conditions. First ask yourself how many times he or she has promised to “make things right.”
  20. If you think the relationship can be salvaged and you love the other person, counseling might be a good idea.
  21. If you can agree to counseling, go into the sessions with an open mind.
  22. If you decide to see a therapist together, keep from trying to turn the session into a finger-pointing exercise with a laundry list of complaints.
  23. If you seek therapy together be honest, but kind.
  24. If therapy is out of the question, in saying, “It’s over,” be honest, but kind.
  25. If your love asks if there is someone else, whether the answer is yes or no, consider saying:  “This is not about another person, but about us. We are not working.”
  26. Remind yourself that if there is someone else, the longer you keep that fact from your love, the longer it will take for both of you to heal. “When you know the truth, the truth will set you free.”
  27. If there is someone else – infidelity might be a deal breaker or a wake-up call.  Consider that leading therapists such as Michele Weiner-Davis and Dr. Ruth Westheimer know the benefits that couples can derive from therapy if they seriously want to save their relationship.
  28. Be aware enough of your partner to know if he or she is the type who will benefit from you dragging out the good-bye or performing radical surgery—that is, “It’s over. No more discussion.”
  29. Understand the consequences of a prolonged “Good-by.” It opens the door for one party doing a guilt trip on the other. It opens the door to manipulation. It opens the door to “victim” mode; that is, “How can you do this to me?”
  30. Understand the hurt and anger the other person is going through.
  31. At all times, remain calm.
  32. Reassure the other person that he or she is someone with whom you have shared a great deal of joy, but now it is time to move on.
  33. Before leaving recount at least two special moments that you shared together for which you will always be grateful.
  34. He or she will say, “Then why can’t we try again?” This is the time to remain firm.
  35. If you have made up your mind, your answer is simply this: “It’s over.”

Kiss each other good bye and then cry. Even if ending a relationship is what you wish to do, there will be an empty feeling inside. Express gratitude for the good times, wish you partner joy and in time, you will feel the warmth of sunshine.”