“It’s your fault. You hurt me. You did this to me. I hate it when you… If you just….”
This is the message of the victim. It’s also an unchecked habit about how many of us relate to others. While very popular, it is very limited.
Hollywood, romance novels, and cheesy movies like Jerry McGuire perpetuate our magical thinking about relationship, as it did mine for over a decade (I was that guy who kept looking for the one to complete me, which caused me and the women I dated a lot of unnecessary suffering).
If our view (context) is that relationships are supposed to always be a safe haven, a place where we are fully met by our partner, or a “feel good” love fest where someone “completes me,” then the practice will be directed at trying to achieve this ideal. This view is a recipe for failure and disappointment, but most folks go along with it and keeps all parties involved stuck in immature love.
If, on the other hand, our view is that relationship is an ongoing practice rather than a static destination, then we can create practices that support this more realistic view. Our expectations and results will then be very different. We also start to see “practice” as a place other than the cushion or yoga mat. We see it all around us each and everyday.
If your claim is that you want to change your relationship life, you must be honest about where you are being a victim and wanting a rescue-job. It’s understandable where you got this message. The media and our culture inundate us with nonsense about how relationships are supposed to be. Many of us still think that when we find the one all will be well and they will complete us. Or maybe some of us think a “conscious” relationship means that we somehow transcend our issues, triggers, and neurosis.
When you don’t want to do the real work of relationship, you end up settling on these outdated views given to you by your parents, culture, traditions or teachers, thus perpetually avoiding the mountain of trauma, loss, hurt, anger, neglect, abandonment, rejection, that is living inside of you, which comes up very naturally in relationship.
This outdated view is keeping you perpetually young and unsatisfied. It keeps you trapped in the belief that you are supposed to always be happy in relationship or that the “right” relationship or “unrealistic” relationship will make you happy. Then we get upset when it never happens. We might even compare ourselves to others who make it look like this is happening (even though it rarely is) and we feel like crap. These are more reasons to be hard on ourselves. And, if we have a tendency to project perfection onto our teachers, we also remain susceptible to projecting “relationship perfection” onto our lovers and friends while remaining a hurt child inside.
The way out of this magical thinking?
We can learn to be adults devoted and committed to learning about “mature love.” We can heal through our relational hurts and pains and grow ourselves up on a daily basis.
We can turn this whole ship around people.
So, I just broke up with (I prefer to say ‘parted ways’ with) my boyfriend of 4.5 years. I looked at our connection objectively about a year ago and had a brief emotional breakdown (you have to let yourself feel things in order to move through them). I think that all of my concerns were in the back of my mind for the past year. Then this year while I was in Iceland and had some space from the relationship I consciously thought about everything that I broke down about last year. I decided that the relationship wasn’t meant to be. I came home and broke it off. I said we weren’t going to work out and I didn’t want us to ruin our relationship like most other people do before they break up. Why not just leave now, when I know it won’t work out, instead of wasting time waiting until we despise each other and have no good memories of the relationship left?
This decision came as a surprise to many. I made the decision rather quickly and quietly. At least it seemed that way since no one knew I had been watching to see if my concerns were valid for the past year. I don’t need to consult with everyone I know. I consulted one of my best friends and my parents, mainly because they were the ones with me in Iceland and they know me the best. Then, my decision was made. I made my decision and was 100%+ confident in it. Many of the people who were surprised were only surprised because they didn’t see it coming. Almost no one was surprised that I decided it wouldn’t work out in the long term. My family, my friends, his family, and my therapist all agreed with me.
Our relationship appeared to be great and fully functional from the outside. We got along well and hardly ever fought. If we did fight we were very good at communicating and resolving the issue. We traveled well together, we did everything together and public displays of affection were par for the course. But there were important variables that matter more than getting along socially. Cultural differences, religious differences, different life goals, different life views, different levels of openness to adventure, different levels of acceptance of others, different levels of tolerance for others, different ideas about my role in my own life, AND the list goes on.
How can I just walk away? Did I really love him for all of those years? Yes. Did I love the incompatibility of our core charateristics? Not in the least, but it took me some time to realize this. Is love all that matters? Is it enough to hold 2 people together despite all adversity? Not at all.
Movies teach us that love conquers all! Love is all that matters! Love is unbreakable! How could I just walk away and not look back? Well I had a year to think over the issues in the back of my mind. Also, I am adopted. What love is stronger than a mother’s love? No love is stronger than a mother’s love. If a mother can give her child up despite her love for that child, because she knows that it is what is best for the child, then any love can be given up in the name of what is best for the participating parties. I have no doubt in my mind that walking away from the relationship is what is best for me. Really, after my birth parents gave me up so I could have a better life than they could give me, and after my parents worked so hard to give me the best life they could, it would just be disrespectful to not also do my part to make sure I have the best life for me. Happy, successful, boundless.
Adoption affects the way adoptees approach relationships. It is my nature to love intensely and wholeheartedly. This is with my friends, my family, my significant other, humankind and life. I am afraid of people leaving me, as most adoptees are, so I build strong, close relationships so people want to stay around. I think it must be more a fear of rejection than a fear of losing someone, because if a friendship or a romantic relationship isn’t functioning the way it should, I will leave. I am not saying this in a cutthroat, cold-hearted way and I never leave any relationship without thoroughly thinking it through. I basically decide “this isn’t working out. It would be best for both of us if this relationship ended…immediately.” I am always confident that the decision is best for both of us, and usually after a little time, the other person realizes that I was right.
This was my first introduction to relationships. Day 1 of life this is exactly the way it happened when my birth parents gave me up for adoption. I understand why my birth parents gave me up. They were right to do so. In their position, I would have given me up for adoption too. I’m just thankful they didn’t choose abortion instead. Keeping me would have been a negative thing for me, and for them. Now, we all have healthy, flourishing lives that we may not have had if I weren’t put up for adoption. On the day I was born they said ‘we love you dearly but we have to let you go, this just isn’t going to work out’ (they didn’t actually say this, their actions did). I guess because of this, I really see the value of having the courage to let go of a relationship that doesn’t play, or no longer plays, a positive role in your life. I wouldn’t exist as who I am today if I hadn’t been let go. I never mean to hurt the person I part ways with, just as my birth parents didn’t mean to hurt me, and I always know that that the other person will be ok. If I, and many other adoptees, turn out (relatively) ok, then anyone that I part ways with will be ok. I’m absolutely sure of it.
Love doesn’t conquer all. Love isn’t enough. And sometimes holding on to love despite all adversity does more harm than good.
So when people say that they are still pulling for us, that they think we were perfect and that they are keeping their fingers crossed…I say “STOP.” (1. nothing is ever as it seems. 2. I have never understood that breaking up and getting back together nonsense) I don’t go in-and-out of relationships. I am in a relationship, or I am out of it and I don’t make the decision to leave lightly. I don’t have the mind or heart to handle ambiguous connections. There are enough of those in my life. I do have an open adoption after all.
If someone leaves me? Devastation. Of course, not so sure that I will be ok. Hypocritical? I prefer the term unstable ;).
Love always and forever,
Love is one of the most beautiful products of human interaction, a blending of affections between a pair of people that forms a lasting bond. Though there are countless ways to show this emotion, there are actually five categories of Love Expressions that can be used to define those using them.
Understanding not only your own categories but your partner’s as well will help strengthen your relationship and improve the impact of the kind gestures you do for one another. The concept of love expressions is a surprisingly easy explanation for the intricate dance of affection, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself nodding in agreement when you discover yourself or your partner in an expression or two. Use these compatible categories as a guide, and you’ll start to notice less fighting and a more pleasant tone to your relationship. If you haven’t found that special someone yet, this information can also help you make a more informed decision about a future mate.
Naturally, each individual is different when it comes to how they love and what types of love they respond to. The love expressions are an excellent place to start if you’d like to learn how to achieve harmony of the heart with your mate. The very act of discovering your partner’s category or categories compels you to take a deeper look at the interactions you share with them. Finding your own expression orientation is often enlightening as well, and can offer helpful clues to help you improve an existing relationship or hunt for an ideal partner.
Disagreements and frustrations in relationships arise from partners who don’t understand one another, but figuring out love expression types will give you both a strong starting point for deeper connections. Each of the 5 categories of love expressions – Attention, Closeness, Compliments, Service and Thoughtfulness – carry certain attributes that appeal to some of the other categories. Though categories tend to be a part of someone’s ingrained nature, learning how to acquiesce and appreciate the differences of a “mismatched” type can build harmony, even if there wasn’t much to work with initially.
Each category in the love expressions array is different, but keep in mind that there is no right or wrong among them. Someone who enjoys close physical proximity is no more or less romantic than a partner who prefers to do the dishes to show their devotion. While a bouquet of roses may delight one person, another may accept them with a silent wish for a poem or a repair job for a broken drawer instead. Scenarios like this are the reason that figuring out both partners’ categories is an important step towards a better relationship.
When you’re ready to start on the path to new and lasting love, call your partner to sit and talk with you. Read, discuss and ask your lover about these categories, as their insight will inevitably help you discover your own tendencies as well. Keep an open mind and make a genuine effort to truly listen to what they say – you may be surprised at what you learn, even if you’ve been with your lover for decades.
Dating or in a relationship? improve with Keen On You relationship tools; face reading, personality, love expressions and more
So you found the man of your dreams or the woman who melts your heart, now what…? How are you ever going to make your sweetheart interested in you? How do you bridge the gap between being isolated souls and becoming romantic partners?
Based on my research study of more than a dozen people’s intimate experiences of flirting, here is a summary of 5 common ways that successful flirters communicate attraction:
1. Use eye contact
Did you know that the most sure-tell way to tell if someone is attracted to you is to notice how they look at you? In almost every case I studied, when eye contact was slightly off, people started having doubts about the other person’s attraction to them. So how do you look at someone to communicate attraction? Simple. Imagine your eyes are hands that reach into and grab the other person’s eyes. Let your gaze linger just a tad bit longer than you normally would. The person of your dreams has to feel your look and has to feel touched by your gaze. Don’t just look, make eye “contact”!
2. Flirt with your body
Many people complain that they end up in the “friend zone”. To avoid that make sure that you communicate your attraction by making the encounter with your heart throb a sensual one. The best way to do that is to use our body, rather than just your words. Lean slightly into the other person’s personal space, or let your hand linger a little bit longer than usual when you casually touch their knee. Find ways to include the element of “touch” when you flirt, it is one of the sure-tell ways to communicate physical attraction and set yourself miles apart from being just a friend.
3. Stop asking questions and start connecting
A question and answer session is not how you make someone feel close to you. Often the best way to bridge the divide between two people is to find shared experiences to talk about. This is why it might be beneficial to include some shared activity when you go on a date rather than just going to have dinner. A shared experience creates a point of connection outside of your isolated personal worlds. Now instead of ping-ponging words back and forth, you discover yourselves in a shared enjoyment, a mutual experience, or something in your shared surroundings. ind ways to meet your partner in the world of shared experiences, rather than tell the stories of your own accomplishments. The goal is to share laughs and enjoyment, not information.
4. Be playful
Nobody wants a clingy partner. Instead of letting your chosen one think they can have you at their whim, create suspense and doubt about your level of commitment. If you show your desire too strongly and too intently, you will likely evoke all kinds of fears in the other person. The less threatening approach is a playful one; the one that hints that you like someone without making it explicit, the one that shows you care, but also that you have other options; the one that introduces lightness, humor, and fun into the situation, and relishes the indirect, the implicit, and the half-said. Think of flirting as an invitation, not a pursuit. Take two steps forward and one step back and watch for signs of reciprocation before continuing forward.
5. Make the other person feel special
We all have a longing to be accepted and there is no greater way to feel special than to be “chosen” by someone. Make sure the person of your dreams notices that you “choose” to be around them. If you are in a group of people be sure to sit or stand next to her. If there is a conversation going on, be sure to show extra attention to his remarks. Show that you will exert effort to be closer to that special person, that you will choose them over many other competing demands. Laugh a little extra at their jokes, ask one more question than you do of the person sitting next to them; make them feel singled out.
Rune Moelbak, Ph.D. is a psychologist, relationship expert, and couples counselor in Houston, Texas. He wrote his dissertation on the experience of interpersonal attraction and flirting. Visit his website www.bettertherapy.org/couples_therapy.html
to read his entire research study or to schedule a couples therapy session on-line.