Relationship School

1348 Relax and Succeed - Relationship School

This fall I will be starting the latest round of my course, The Principles of Healthy Relationships. I won’t pretend to know who or what is right or wrong for someone else. But I do know that by learning how to clear our heads and change our perspectives, we can learn to more clearly see what defines a healthy relationship for us.

Each of us comes to our relationships with unique histories, unique circumstances and a unique personality. Those factors in turn lead us to date in unique ways and to create unique relationships. We even have unique breakups. And yet within us there is a certain consistency that we see emerge as patterns.

The differences between us derive from small differences in how we weight our values and our preferences, and our patterns emerge because those rarely change. But what is helpful is that we all share a set of helpful principles that we process our values and preferences with, and we can become conscious of that process.

We all know it’s possible for us to be attracted to certain kinds of unhealthy situations, and we often have the same conflicts with multiple partners, both of which are indications of the invisible set of rules we have been using in our relationships. Yet, we cannot function wisely within them if we’re not even sure what those rules and boundaries are, where they came from, or if they’re helpful.

It is possible for us to be more conscious of what we bring to a relationship, both in terms of how we foster them in healthy ways and how we unwittingly undermine them. Because we not only need to know how to find joy, we also need good strategies for how to manage our particular brands of trouble.

Every good relationship runs into problems –even serious ones. But the healthiest relationships succeed precisely because they have calmly thought out good strategies for dealing effectively with the patterns we create with our lives.

If we understand our Selves and how we truly operate, we are then able to tell the difference between when our ego is over-reacting, and when we have an issue that truly needs a healthy resolution.

By slowing our dating, relationship and breakup processes down, and by seeing them in new and insightful ways, it is much easier for us to find healthy new routes into better quality relationships.

1348 Relax and Succeed - Being single dating being in a relationship

If we’re single we can benefit from gaining a better understanding of the differences between solitude and loneliness. That way we can avoid both hiding from relationships, as well as being pushed into unhealthy ones. (It’s no surprise that we often make better choices when we’re feeling healthy and not under stress.)

If we’re dating, that’s often through websites which match qualities and interests, and yet people in good relationships will sometimes share those and other times not, so clearly those are not the secret. Qualities and interests are important, but in the end what we are with in a relationship is someone’s true character. Knowing how to recognize it early helps us to figure out much sooner if someone is destined to cross one of our relationship limits.

And if we’re in a relationship, or if we’re thinking about leaving one, we gain by establishing much more clearly what our personal needs really are, and why we are with the person we are with. This can can facilitate very helpful dialogue and can just as often lead to a beautiful relationship renewal as it can lead to a compassionate and healthy break-up.

Whether we avoid someone, unite with someone, sacrifice to stay with someone or decide leave someone, in any case our actions should be motivated by the same underlying principle: because that choice will lead to a greater quality of life.

We can share our lives with others and we do not have to surrender ourselves completely to do it. At least not all the time. But we do need to know where our own balance points are, and how those correspond to our partners or potential partners. Without that we can easily see things tumble.

No one is ever wrong or right for everyone, but finding who we’re right for is certainly much easier when we have a clearer and more principled idea of what it is we’re really looking for.

peace. s

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

1345 Relax and Succeed - Should I stay or should I go

How much should we do? When is a relationship too bad or too unrewarding to stay in? The consequences of adults making these decisions are often enormous, and if we add kids or a business into that equation the high stakes go even higher.

Sometimes they come alone and sometimes they come as couples, but over time I’ve been asked to help with this question a lot. In fact I had just sat down to write this and someone contacted me about this very subject before I was even done this second paragraph –thereby changing it into what you’re now reading.

Whether as a couple or a single, this is one of the most difficult questions we face because there are simply too many variables.

Are we being unreasonable? Is this just a phase? Will the person change? Will we really be better off without them? Is it too late to re-start? Will anyone else want us after the breakup? If someone does, could they be worse than our current partner? Could more of the problem be about us rather than them? Or would we be better off alone? And how can we sort out that tangle of ideas?

These are all very reasonable questions, but the reason we often see-saw back and forth on our answers is because as our mood fluctuates so does our perception of the rest of our life. Yet no one wants to make a major life decision about a life partner based on a temporary mood, hence people’s desire to seek help in thinking through all the variables.

1345 Relax and Succeed - How can we tell

I have yet to meet anyone who came to me already taking into account all of the variables involved. In most cases people leave out huge impacts without ever really noticing they are inevitable.

The good news is that the serious consideration of these ideas generally leads to much happier lives regardless of the outcome. Some couples rekindle their love and very enthusiastically choose to stay together despite gigantic sacrifices, while others happily head their own way with the loving support of each other. Some form relationships with others, some stay happily single, depending on what suits each individual.

These can be legitimately seen as daunting decisions, but their importance does not mean we are prevented from engaging with these ideas in a positive way.

This isn’t about whether the relationship is good or bad or whether it lasts or not, it’s about whether each individual can actually thrive in the circumstances they are in, or if those circumstances need to change. Either way, couples are not in opposition, they are searching for answers that work best for all involved. With that as the objective, the entire process is far less emotionally wrought and far more empowering.

We shouldn’t assume that big, scary, complicated decisions will lead to big, scary and complicated outcomes. Even getting married is big, scary and complicated for most people, but that doesn’t mean the marriages can’t be good. Likewise, ending a relationship can also look big and scary and complex, but that does not mean that both people can’t end up happier in the end.

peace. s

Successfully Single

1341 Relax and Succeed - Are we ready for the relationship we seek

It’s a weird thing that many of us have had happen. You’re out there, dating, being a single available person. But it just feels like we keep meeting the same people. And we can’t find one that captures our attention. We’re lonely, but then….

Then we meet someone, and we get swept away and suddenly there are suitors everywhere. While many of us have had this happen, it doesn’t really mean there were a bunch of available people hiding somewhere. Those people show up then precisely because they are subconsciously unavailable.

It’s like there’s a pheromone or something that everyone can smell. We give off some odour of being happily attached, and it acts as an attractant to any member of the opposite sex that is afraid of relationships and is therefore only attracted to unavailable people.

That effect can cause us to wonder if we’re really chosen the right person now that we suddenly see so much apparent choice before us. To avoid that confusion, we must learn to be successfully single. That way the truly available people can find us before the unavailable people do.

Truly available people look scary to those who grew up in homes with terrible or extremely disappointing marriages. Those people often don’t realize they are avoiding commitment, but because they are, all truly available people are to be avoided.

But that is not the case for the people who hold more positive ideas about relationships.

While it may be true that the pots with the biggest bends need to find people with equally bent lids; likewise, people who are lucky enough to have had life experiences that leave them fairly well rounded are also relatively round pots that best suit relatively round lids.

 

1341 Relax and Succeed - A relationship is not a route to mental health

Unfortunately, relationship desperation –a very real and legitimate impulse for the profoundly lonely, or by women facing the end of their child-bearing years– can cause a fairly well rounded person to come across as a bit hell-bent regarding their own needs. The resulting intense desire to couple-up can lead us to make decisions we later realize were unwise.

As an example, there are people fixers who seek out struggling people to help. But most reasonably healthy people are seeking a partner in life, not a match for their codependency.

We all know that even as healthy people we all offer plenty of challenges to a partner. This means that even solid, well-rounded people are generally attracted to equally solid, well-rounded people. This is the value of being successfully single.

If we want to avoid the unavailable, and we don’t want to attract the desperate, our answer is to see our singledom as something to really invest ourselves in. If we don’t need anyone, then anyone we do accept is there because they add more to our lives than they cost, and we do likewise for them. But to do that we have to be healthy to start with –even while we are single.

Living a single life that leaves us feeling fulfilled or proud or sanguine offers many benefits. It shows potential partners that we don’t need them, we want them. We aren’t damaged and leaning on them in some unhealthy way.

We are human and fallible but we are also strong and capable enough to avoid codependency. And that’s attractive, because healthy people favour of the sort of love that can only be shared by two strong, reasonably healthy individuals who are choosing to unite.

A relationship is not a route to mental health or life stability. But, mental health and life stability are routes to a healthy relationship. For this reason we are all best to learn to see our lives in healthy ways before we’re attached.

We must learn to quell the voices within us that lead us to the desperate feelings that lead to poor choices. Life is too short, we cannot let our egos trip up the joys awaiting our spirits.

peace. s