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Thursday, February 18, 2016

You Stretched, Your Partner Hasn't: Now What?


We don't all grow (emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually) with the same rhythm, or at the same time. Even when you were in pre-school and those early grades that followed, some of the other kids learned to form beautifully shaped letters on their paper, while you sweated with your pencil, and left dark streaks in your notebook from your damp hands, and yet you understood about three plus three equaling six long before they did.

So when you're at another stage in your life and the learning and growing and stretching has to do with very different things, it makes sense that the same principle applies. Perhaps you've become emotionally independent (meaning, among other things, not that you don't want other people in your life, but that you have learned to love yourself, to take good care of yourself, and hence you've arrived at a place of well-being inside of you that is OK, whether you are in a relationship or not, and when you are in one, your inner well-being does not increase or decrease depending on the moods of your partner, or depending on how much attention and time you are getting from your partner).

Perhaps you've taken on responsibility for yourself (which closely ties in with the previous point), where you know that whatever happens in your life, you choose to be responsible for how you feel about it, how you think about it, what you say, in a word: you choose to be in charge of all your reactions to your inner and outer circumstances.

So the above two examples take me to the core idea of this post. Assuming you've stretched yourself in one (or both) of the above directions (or perhaps also others along similar lines), because you wanted to. Or because you became aware of aspects of yourself that were holding you back personally, professionally, socially, academically, etc., and so you decided some changes were needed. Or perhaps you met someone who was already at the place you are at now, and you wanted to get there as well. So you read some books, attended some seminars or retreats, or you had some therapy (or coaching), and now you are at this new place in your life where you have stretched far beyond the place you were at before.

But your partner has not stretched. So now what?

This is a tricky situation which could be the beginning of a whole new level of partnership, where you relate to each other in ways you could not even have dreamed possible before - or - it could be the slow demise of your relationship.

Can you influence how it turns out? Yes and no. If your partner views the changes in you as positive, perhaps even wishes to emulate some (or all) of them, then things are looking quite good. But if your partner sees your stretching, your changing, your growth beyond your previous thresholds as threatening, and wants you to return to the status quo of whatever - however - you were when you met, then things are looking less good. Much of it will depend on the level of communication you can now maintain about all that has changed in you, and how much of it you are able to share in ways that come across, not as pretentious, or preaching, or wanting to change your partner, but as joy and amazement at the new world you now inhabit. Much will also depend on your compassion for the fact that your partner simply didn't get on that particular bandwagon at the same time as you did, and so may need some patience from you, some time to readjust, and perhaps then feel the desire to also stretch. Perhaps the best advice for a situation of this nature is for you to observe, make no judgements, wait, and practice kindness and compassion. You will know when continuing to wait is fruitless, but if your waiting brings about the desired results, then your reward will be enormous.

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