I often have clients come to me searching for their soul-mates, twin-flames, partners in crime and “the one.” These clients also thought they had previously found that person, only to have discovered them to be narcissists, emotionally unavailable and abusive, and are trying to figure out, “why they got duped”—and not for the first time, either. There is so much that is romanticized about relationships, that it is easy to lose sight of what we are actually doing here. Don’t get me wrong, romance is great, feels great and can be truly intoxicating. The flip side, however, can be really painful. Do I tell my clients to avoid romance, then? Heck no. But I do work with them on viewing the situation in perspective.
I had a teacher who used to tell me that we tend to approach our partners through the lens of 80% romance and 20% business—“business” meaning looking at our compatibilities, shared visions, workability, etc. He said that most “awake” people, think that 50/50 is more appropriate, but that this was still a recipe for disaster. His assertion was that relationships needed to be evaluated from a place of 80% business and 20% romance. I tried this on for a while and found that I am not one for numbers. Doing this did, however, give me a different way to evaluate my potential relationships, by placing more importance on “what works” than physical and emotional attraction.
To be honest, my romantic history was not solely based on physical and emotional attraction. I made lists, I knew the qualities I wanted, and the women I had relationships with fit those lists at those times. What clouded my ability to evaluate the workability of those relationships, however, came down to several factors:
- I got what I asked for, as they had many qualities from my list of “qualities I desire in a partner”;
- I grew up with the context of “relationships take work,” and so I thought it was my duty to hold on, because “that’s what we are supposed to do”;
- I ignored the warning signs that there may be issues because I figured they would go away over time, thought it was my issue and therefore my responsibility to make it ok, they possessed the qualities I was looking for and I was supposed to make things work;
- I had my own abandonment and self-worth issues that I was continuing to work through.
An unfortunate aspect of the dating and relationship industry, and of people who have survived “bad” relationships, is that we tend to be made to feel wrong for the things we have missed and for not being “healthy enough” to have been in a relationship in the first place. Frankly, when clients have come to me having been told this by other practitioners, it really pisses me off. What does “healthy enough” even mean? To be clear, I know that there are people who are clinically not in a place where they can participate in a relationship, but for someone who still has abandonment and self-worth issues…there’s a partner for that. Which brings me back to: “What are we really looking for, anyway?”
I truly believe and have experienced that our partners are reflections of us. They reflect who we are, where we are at, how much we value ourselves, what we are willing to put up with and not put up with and what lessons and experiences we are ready for. Having been in relationships with women who only valued my kindness and emotional availability when they needed it, and then mocked and used that against me when they didn’t, has caused me to evaluate myself and do the work to become more discerning, and ultimately meet a woman who appreciates and loves all of those qualities I have, without needing anything from me.
A client I worked with some time ago was so focused on pushing through her history of running from relationships, that she was fighting to stay with an abuser. She would share all the things he would do and say to her, and yet miss how damaging he was being because she was blaming herself for wanting to run. It wasn’t until I pointed that out to her that she began to see it; she laughed and then cried really hard, and ultimately felt relief in the discovery that there was nothing wrong with her. She had the permission she needed to listen to her body and set hard boundaries for herself; she has been thriving ever since.
None of this would have been possible for my client, or for me, if we had stayed out of relationships until we were “healthy enough.”
I am also fully aware that there are people who are very good at deception, can appear to be that amazing partner we are all looking for and then reveal themselves as abusers. The more that we do our own personal work and learn to tune in to ourselves and our intuition, the faster we can identify them and run far away.
There are a lot of layers to relationships, and to people for that matter. When we can let ourselves off the hook for having “failed relationships” and when we can look at our histories from the space of “what worked and didn’t work,” the happier we will all be and the better chance we have of finding even better versions of whatever it is we are looking for. Ultimately, we won’t be looking for anything: things and people will just show up.
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