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All the right feelings seem to be there with your current partner, but before you take the plunge into commitment you need reassuring that this is the real thing, rather than a romantic fantasy. And you want to be sure that a deep and committed love relationship, with all the challenges, as well as the joys, that entails, is actually something that you want in your life.
These questions are to help you get a clearer idea about whether you and your partner are right for each other.
- Would I be happy for my partner if she decided, for whatever reason, that leaving me was the best next step for her on her path to becoming her full and authentic self?
This is always a tough question, and a classic dilemma. If I love my partner, I want her to be happy; so the answer to this would be a sad ‘Yes’! But naturally enough, the ego/selfish part of my love only wants her to be happy with ME! In reality, if I really love her I will let her go with my ‘blessing’, even if there was a part of me that secretly hopes for the day she knocks on my door and admits that she’s realized how great I was, and her life was too miserable without me!
- Do I still feel love towards my partner when I imagine her being the way she is with me, but with someone else?
This is a reminder to me that her happiness, or unhappiness, is not all about ME. I need to face the fact that she is an individual with her own priorities and needs. I am blessed to be with her, but she (hopefully) isn’t dependent on me to be who she is, or to be happy. However much I might like that idea, at a more adult loving place I know it wouldn’t be good for either of us.
- Am I able to tell my partner the truth even if I know it may make her angry or upset? And am I sure she’ll she take responsibility for her feelings, not try to blame me.
This doesn’t mean being rude or unkind…or giving up on using a reasonable amount of tact and diplomacy. It does mean making sure that there is a shared understanding about the important things between us; for example, whether I’m thinking of a relationship as being long term, or just a dalliance. Or whether I have unmet needs or unresolved hurts that are causing me to put distance between us. Burying negative feelings gives them a power which always comes back to create worse pain in the future, and denying them to ourselves destroys our ability to feel ‘present and connected’ with our partner.
- Am I able to hear my partner’s anger towards me, whether or not I feel it’s justified, without being threatened and/or defensive?
Women friends have told me that one of the biggest frustrations, and turnoffs they can feel with a partner is if he seems intimidated by them when they need to vent strong feelings; that inhibits them from getting it off their chest in as way that allows space for healing and understanding. None of us can be ‘reasonable’ all the time, and we all just need to blow off a little. As long as it’s not done in an aggressive or blaming way, but as an expression of feelings which are fully owned, it can only be helpful.
- Am I open to hearing my partner’s opinion and respecting it, even if it’s different to mine?
I may think that if I back down, or don’t hold my ground and prevail in a disagreement with my partner, I’ll be seen as weak, and lose her respect. But actually the contrary is true. Women see inflexibility as a sign of insecurity; and lose respect for a man who can’t admit, without shame when he’s wrong.
- Am I happy to share decision making with my partner, and encourage her to connect with her empowered self-confidence, in all areas of our relationship?
Having the strength to defer to a woman and follow her lead in the areas of her strength, at least some of the time, is a sign of true wisdom and strength in a man. It shows he’s centred and confident enough not to need the reassurance of always being in charge, and few things are more attractive to her in a man than confidence. Modesty is another sign of inner strength; it shows a man is intelligent enough to recognize his limitations.
- Am I able to hear my partner’s interpretation of what I’ve said if it doesn’t match my intention, and accept my responsibility to communicate with her more clearly?
A lot of arguments arise because of a mismatch between one partner’s intention with what they’ve said or done, and the way the other interprets it. Never is this more true and in the world of online communication! Things that may seem insignificant for one person may touch a raw spot and spark off a powerful reaction in the other. We need to get to know and understand our partner’s raw spots and triggers, and our own, to tread y round them not to ‘take it personally’ when they express feelings which are hard to hear.
- Am I willing and able to learn to express love to my partner in a way that matches her preferred ‘love language’, even if its different from my own.
It’s down to whether I care enough about the wellbeing of my partner to be able to get to know their world; to know what matters to them, and to make that important to me too, paying attention to their reality, and remaining present and connected with it, without devaluing or denying my own truth. To be willing to adapt my ideas and my behavior, and translate what I’m trying to express from my own instinctive language into one that she will readily understand, and respond to.
- Am I willing to explain to my partner what makes me feel loved, rather than expect her to know, and then feel angry and disappointed if she doesn’t
One of the hardest things to accept, but an essential step in becoming a grown up, is that no one else is ‘responsible’ for my feelings, and my actions. There’s no one to blame for how I feel. The good news is that we can decide what we need and want and ask for it. If it’s not forthcoming, we can choose accordingly, balancing our best interests with those of the other person. Pleasing another must never be done at the expense of our own well-being; this only leads to resentment and manipulation. And if we do that, we’ve only ourselves to blame.
- Am I willing to be consistent about my boundaries (at the same time as feeling compassion for my partner’s feelings) even if that risks upsetting or even losing her?
A key part of recognizing our essential responsibility for taking care of ourselves is to refuse to let other people trample on us or damage us in any way. It’s very empowering when we move from being ‘disappointed’ with a partner because they haven’t given us what we think we need, or angry and resentful because they’ve treated us in a way that felt hurtful, to explaining to them what we will or won’t accept. Paradoxically when we’re clear about our boundaries, it will garner us more of the attention and respect that we may be afraid of losing by doing that.
If you’ve been able to answer with at least a cautious ‘yes’ to most of these, you’re a lucky man; you are in love, and it’s the real thing. Enjoy!
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