- Quality of Life & Wellness
The Truth About Relationships
The Truth About Love
The concept that we have about love in our society is one that is leads us to believe that as long as we are pretty enough, handsome enough, rich enough, thin enough, fit enough, funny enough, and (fill in the blank) enough...we will find ever- lasting love with the perfect partner and never be lonely again.
The reality that presents itself to us, time and time again, could not be more of a contrast to the ideal that we are chasing. The statistics tell us that increasing numbers of people are single – just look at the booming industry that makes its profits from people looking for love, namely the dating industry- and that divorce is becoming more common by the year.
Where are we going wrong?
We are sold a story from a very young age that girls are supposed to be pretty and this will be enough to win the heart of a handsome prince on a white horse, who will fall in love, and whisk us away from the drab life that we live to a life filled with luxury and love, for the rest of our lives.
Boys on the other hand, need only to be brave and strong, and rich (and obviously own a white horse) and they will win the heart of a beautiful girl who will fulfil all their needs and never question their authority or challenge them in anyway because they are so magical and being with them is such a pleasure.
Fairy tales and the stories that are repeated to us many times as we are growing up teach us to fantasise about the “perfect” man or woman who will make all our troubles fall away as if by magic. He/ she will also never tire of us, find us annoying or leave us because we are so “wonderful” together.
The reality could not be more different. Relationships are tough, complicated and very often painful because, having been sold a story that all we need to do to be happy is to find the “right” one, we are so ill-equipped for the challenges of relationships and taking responsibility for our needs and issues that will inevitably come to the surface when we try to relate on an intimate level with someone else.
Part of the problem is that we have an unconscious desire to mend a primary wound that happened to us in childhood. We seek healing for any issues that we are dealing with by recreating them in our partners. We do not do this consciously, but should you care to look back over the last few relationships you have had, you will probably see a theme running through the centre.
An example would be if daddy was distant- he worked away a lot, he was an alcoholic, he was so focused on your mother, he was in a lot of pain from his own issues, or was sick, absent, grieving, or any number of other reasons- you will most probably be unbelievably attracted to men that are emotionally unavailable.
What you are truly searching for is someone that is available to you emotionally, but these people will not be attractive to you at all. You have relationship after relationship that fails because you are not getting your needs met (and probably neither are they) and yet, you move on to someone who looks different but is in fact, extremely similar underneath the masks that we all wear.
In the same way, if mummy was clingy, suffocating, adoring, controlling, disciplinarian or needy, the women that you will unconsciously be highly attracted to will bear the same characteristics, and they will drive you mad, because you swore that you would never go out with anyone who did not allow you to be yourself, an individual, free and so on. For you, these women will not leave you alone, and you keep finding that you are so attracted to those that bring out the same issues in you, repeatedly.
Both of these examples are stereotypical, and all characteristics can be displayed by both sexes. However, the point is that until such time as we begin to look at what is going so wrong with our relationships, all of this behaviour will continue to play itself out until we work through what we are trying to resolve, or give up because the pain was too great the last time.
When two people first get together, they each bring a fantasy version of what they are looking for, like a cardboard cut out, and impose it on the other person. In the heady mix of hormones and lust, they are infatuated with the cardboard cut out that they have placed in front of their partner. They see neither faults, nor bad habits, and they are truly blissful. This normally lasts for about 6-9 months, until one day they wake up and say to themselves “This is not the person I fell in love with”.
Mother Nature has a little to do with this. By design, we experience a heady cocktail of feel good hormones for about 6-9 months as we are supposed in this time to become pregnant, and reproduce. After the birth, we receive another dose of hormones (both males and females) that induce us to stay within the family unit.
We have somewhat fallen out of kilter with our natural cycle. So, in the eternal quest for Mr or Mrs Right, we fall in and out of love, as each person we are in relationship with disappoints us, and essentially, does not make us happy. We leave, swearing to ourselves that the next one will be better, and of course, rarely is this true.
The love stories that we see on the screens at cinemas, and read about in books are feeding the fantasy that someone else will bring us what we are lacking. In order to fulfil our side of the fantasy, we project what we think the other person would like to see, and this becomes our currency. Social standing, physical fitness, beauty, and political persuasions all become important in the dating game, and we fall in love with the external projection of the other person.
So many of us look to another person to make us happy, complete and fulfilled. The very emotional state that we are hoping to generate by being with the “Right” partner, is the place to start enquiring about you and your issues. Thus, if you are looking for someone that will hear and see you, where do you not listen and accept yourself? If you seek a partner that will enable you to feel safe, what do you that makes you feel unsafe? If you search for someone to make you whole, where are you fragmented, and what can you do about it?
By becoming more aware of your unconscious needs and patterns, you can begin to work on healing any wounds that you bring with you into your relationships. We all have them. As you grow in awareness and begin to take responsibility for meeting your own needs and wants, you will find that the type of person that you are attracted to will also change with time.
What is the answer?
Begin with yourself. Work on completely loving and accepting yourself. Look at your history, your hang-ups, your diet, wardrobe, friends, career, hobbies, and any addictions. Get help with the areas of your life that do not bring you joy and peace. Work on falling in love with you so that you can rescue and save yourself.
Find out where you let yourself down, you disappoint yourself and you would rather be someone else. This takes a huge dose of courage, and honesty, but the rewards are that you cease to look outside of yourself for your own salvation. You become your best friend, and you treat yourself with love and respect.
It is true that relationships are our greatest gift for growth. When we can enter a relationship from a place of self love, we can permit ourselves to truly see our partners, and we no longer rely on them to make us feel better. We can stand beside them and completely allow them to be who they are, and they can offer us the same respect.
We accept their all their foibles and idiosyncrasies because they are in fact what make our partner interesting, and human. We come from a place of not needing to try to change them in order to fit them into our perceived idea of them, and this frees them up to be exactly who they are. What a gift that is to give to someone.
Instead of giving to receive, we are in this relationship because it allows both parties to grow and thrive. We are two whole human beings that come together because the relationship gives us both room to learn and change, and follow our aspirations.
There are very few relationships that match this description. As we look into the subject matter, it is being written about more frequently, in various places, as there seems to be a wake- up call amidst the noise and disharmony that typifies our lives today. We are becoming aware of how unsatisfying it has been to date, and huge numbers of people are looking to improve themselves. It seems that there is an undercurrent of change that is sweeping the planet and calling for us to step up to the mark.
Begin with yourself, and the world will improve with you.
Written by Caroline Nettle.
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