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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

So Why Exactly are You Still in That Relationship?


It all started so brilliantly. You were so very much in love. Your partner was just what you had been looking for, for so very long, and you felt so fortunate to have found him/her. You realized just how incredible he/she was, especially – so you told yourself – once he/she got out of his own way to see his/her own magnificence. And you knew; you absolutely knew, that you would give him/her so much love that he/she would eventually also recognize it.

Another brilliant start to a love relationship is when you realize – in that state of incipient love – that life has become so incredibly wonderful since he/she entered your life. You can feel how much better everything – simply everything – is, since the two of you became a couple. When you are with him/her you just exist on another level, than when you are apart. And that of course – or so you believe – proves that this is truly love.

Somewhere along the line, in either of the above scenarios – and multiple others – you become disillusioned, perhaps resentful, perhaps afraid, sad, angry, and you experience a rollercoaster of many other emotions. Somehow, things are not where you thought they would be.

All of the above is not tremendously unusual, and yet many couples stay together for years, even decades, sometimes even longer than half a century, long after the children have fled the nest (which is frequently the apparent cause for remaining together), and so of course the question has to be posed: why exactly are you still in that relationship?

Pay close attention to the next bit: what are you telling yourself about all of this? In other words, what is your self-dialogue when you are faced with the fact that the relationship is truly not what you thought it would be? Because it is in the depth of this (generally not terribly conscious) self-dialogue of yours that you can begin to see what keeps you there. Here are some examples:
  • If only he/she could see himself/herself the way I do, then he/she would be that incredible person I just know he/she could be. This is a movie that you have played over and over in your mind. The movie never shows reality as it actually is – it only shows where you take your wishful thoughts, sometimes decades after your ‘script’ still has not shown any proof of it taking place
  • How can I possibly live without him/her? This script, while not quite a movie, is nevertheless something that you keep telling yourself due to your need for the person that you feel you are unable to leave. What you can’t – yet – conceive is that life could actually be much better and filled with much greater well-being, if this person were indeed out of your life.
  • The main reason he/she behaves this way with me is because I haven’t yet been able to show him/her how great my love is, or how wonderful life could be if he/she could see him/herself through my eyes. In this script you are blind to your completely unhealthy boundaries and are allowing him/her to treat you in totally unacceptable ways, and convincing yourself of the fact that this is all OK, because it is on YOU. I.e., in your mind, it is your responsibility that he/she behaves this way.
  • All he/she has to do is to make those few little changes, and then everything would be perfect. In this script you are ‘blaming’ the other for the lack of success of the relationship, and in the blaming, are removing any and all vestiges of responsibility on your part for not either changing the parts of you that need changing, or in simply saying ‘that’s enough!’ and leaving. Understand me correctly … what you blame the other for might be valid, but it’s not about that, but rather, about the fact that by looking at his/her faults, you get to absolve yourself of responsibility about your own. This is a dangerous script, because you become complacent in your ‘knowledge’ of the other’s faults, and so you do nothing … other than think about or remark on the faults.
People contact me from all over the globe about numerous issues, but precisely this one occurs more frequently than most. People are in pain. People can’t believe how it is that they can be treated in this or that fashion, and want solace, but evidently if I am going to help someone, it’s not so much by offering solace, although that is also part of the equation, as it is about holding the mirror up to their face, and asking them to look inside. Not because anything is necessarily their fault, but it is only by changing the self, that the outer circumstance will truly also change.

How is this done? Once again, for those of you who have been reading these articles every month since 2006: you need to become conscious. By being conscious of your thoughts and feelings as they occur, you can begin to change what you are telling yourself – that self-dialogue I mentioned before. And as you change the inner chatter, you begin to see yourself and life, not to mention your partner and your circumstances, in different ways. And you will begin to find an inner freedom you may not have ever felt before.

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