You’ve met that Someone Special who makes your heart feel like it might pop out of your chest. You can’t think straight when you’re with them. Heck, you can’t think straight all day.
Before you jump headlong into that next relationship, here are a couple of things I would urge you to consider.
If you believe that relationships are about stability and security, think again.
A healthy relationship requires engagement: there needs to be challenge, flux and risk involved. If you are not prepared to create it yourself, the relationship will at some point create it on your behalf.
Nothing is sacred in a relationship.
All those bits that have been hiding down in the basement of your heart will pop out into the open dancing the drunk tango and wearing your dirty underwear, and you will have to deal with the truth and the reality of it. Accept this as an absolute and you will save yourself a lot of heartache.
Take responsibility for the fact that you attracted the person into your life, that you wanted to have them around, and that they were there to show up a part of yourself that you didn’t necessarily want to look at. You might hate them for it now, but it doesn’t make it any less valid.
Relationships are big medicine –
just not in the way that the fairytales want you to believe. They are the purveyors of truth. They show you how you feel about yourself. They manifest what you believe you are worthy of having.
They express the good in you, but also the parts that you haven’t wanted to look at or deal with.
Sometimes they can be incredibly painful.
If you can get to the truth of what about it was painful to you AND REALLY OWN IT, you can change your life. If you can stay with yourself and not put it all onto the other person, relationships can be like gold.
They can set you free or make you a prisoner forever. What you do with it is up to you.
Vulnerability is key in a relationship.
It implies risk. Unmasking yourself without knowing whether the other person will accept you; showing your weakness and risking being injured. If you feel incapable of doing this, don’t have a relationship. It will damage you more than doing you good.
Relationships are mirrors, reflecting your feelings about yourself back to you. They show up your good parts and your weaknesses. (They do this so well that it will drive you up the wall.)
If you start every relationship hoping that it will last forever, you’re in trouble. Relationships are catalysts in your development. The person you are seeing might be teaching you something very powerful about yourself right now, but once you’ve learnt it, it might be time to move on and let it go.
PHASE 1: THE DREAMY INNARDS OF LOVE
(Months 1 – 6)
The act of falling love is, at its core, narcissistic.
We fall in love with the perfection our own reflection in the other person’s eyes. They don’t see our faults! They love everything about us! They create a space where we can be a perfect human being. In return, we fall in love with the idea of the other person. We love them for reflecting us so beautifully. This is how it is at the beginning of a relationship.
Tread lightly: Often at this point in the relationship, a displacement happens. The true “I” becomes replaced by the “I” that you see in the other person’s eyes.
This is dangerous ground.
The more you play into the idea that the other person has of you, the less truthful you are in the relationship, and the better the chances that it will end badly, with you feeling lost and losing your sense of identity.
A relationship that develops based on an idea that you develop about yourself is sure to end in disaster. Relationships elicit truth, always. You can’t run away from it.
At some point, perhaps around the three month mark, the mutual illusion of utter perfection is casually cracked one day when the person you’re in love with shows signs of… well, of being human. (Oh, the disappointment.)
PHASE 2: THE DAWNING OF REALITY
(Months 6 – 12)
One day the person says (or does) something that shatters the perfect illusion that you’ve constructed around them. A tiny crack splits through it, and alack alas, no matter how much you close your eyes and squint into the sun when you look at them, the reality of the relationship you have now committed to is starting to set in.
A period of mourning follows:
mourning the fact that you can’t be textbook ‘perfect’ – even through the eyes of another. Mourning the fact that you still haven’t met the ‘perfect’ person. You start to realise that this isn’t going to be all fun and games. Nope. You might have to put some work into it.
You might try to recapture the innocence of the first phase, of only seeing the best in each other, and sometimes it might work, but conflict now arises in the relationship as you “re-draw” the outlines of each other and discover what you perceive to be the weaknesses of the person, and vice versa.
The big secret is officially out: both of you are human after all. The curtain has lifted. Eve has made an apple pie and danced the tango with the snake.
And so the relationship officially begins.
PHASE 3: THE MAKE OR BREAK YEAR
The real LOVE of love starts to set in or the relationship starts to stagnate. Cycles and patterns start to clearly emerge.
The relationship either grows or becomes dormant – this completely depends on the ability of both parties involved to allow the process of growth to ensue, how much they are prepared to work on themselves in order to make the relationship work and how much they are willing to risk.
Exploration and discovery of each other has to become externalised (exploring and discovering the outside world – now as a unit) and pursued by both parties, or stagnation might quickly follow.
Varied mutual experience is the essence of what make a relationship sustainable. Getting home, cooking food and watching the box might be great every now and again, but if it becomes the norm the relationship is doomed. Dormancy ensues. Both parties will start to feel trapped by the relationship and their circumstances and start fantasizing about life outside of the confines of it.
The wider the boundaries of the relationship are, the better the chances that affection will last. Spending time apart is excellent. Pursuing separate interests is vital.
Permanency is an illusion.
The basic nature of the universe and of life is change. The chances of having a loving relationship from the time that you’re twenty till you die is pretty slim, UNLESS you are both in the same headspace and working the same programme.
It requires a little bit of magic to make a relationship work for that long. It requires you AND the relationship to change, time and time again.
Relationships are powerful catalysts for connection and self-discovery. They are not supposed to be warm and comfy. If you can risk a little, if you can allow yourself to shift and move with it, a relationship can be your greatest medicine.
Are you clear about your own motives in having romantic relationships?
Are you clear about what your expectations are from the person you are in relationship with? Do you verbalise them?
Are you sure that you can’t offer those things to yourself?