Stories that Derail your Happy Ending
The stories I’m going to talk about today might be called pre-love stories. These are tales we weave about why we shouldn’t-wouldn’t-couldn’t get help in our pursuit of a great relationship. Despite a massive dating-industrial complex devoted to turning singles into couples – with ebooks, visualizations, podcasts, webinars, dating sites, tantric yoga retreats, etc, etc, etc – the divorce rate hasn’t gone down, the percentage of healthy relationships hasn’t gone up (btw, that’s about 25% of them).
So on the one hand, we’re swimming in a sea of romantic advice. On the other, getting help with your love life isn’t necessarily trusted. Some ways I’ve heard people talk about their hesitation to work on romantic challenges:
1) Relying on your inner circle: “I have friends and family I can talk to . They know me, so they’re the ones to help me figure out what’s going wrong, and what to do about it.” The problem is, even if they have a great relationship themselves, their recipe for happiness isn’t likely to be the same for you. Though we humans all have a bedrock need for love – the particulars of what we need in a mate are idiosyncratic – related to our family histories, temperament, attachment needs and values. Your inner circle of advisors may be wise, and want the best for you, but probably don’t grasp how your particular psychology works (and might sabotage you) when it comes to love.
2) Thinking “I can or should do this myself”:
Most of us have hoped that we could jump online with a cute profile and the rest of it would take care of itself. But you might want to consider a different approach if your plan hasn’t given you the results you’re after. Do you suspect there’s something getting in your way? Do you want clarity & support to jump start your success?
Most of us have blind spots – a trained eye can save you years of trial, error and frustration.
3) Feeling like you are beyond help: “I’ve read every self-help book there is, gone to trainings and classes. I’ve worked hard at this! Other people just seem to wander into good relationships, and I’m still alone, or with the wrong guys. Maybe I’m just destined to be single.”
A lot of people get discouraged after putting in effort that doesn’t translate into real change. But most standardized programs to “find love” are missing something. You might get some valuable ideas, and some insights, but …
There are two big drawbacks to programs that rely on a general curriculum, w/out 1:1 work.
- The problem, and the solution, is that WE ARE ALL UNIQUE. Whatever might be true about love in general, we have beautifully varied psychologies, needs and gifts that need to be taken into account. Broad patterns have to be translated and tested against what’s true for you.
- In my experience, a limiting pattern often takes sustained, individual attention to dissolve – including real- world practice and collaboration with an expert. It’s one thing to understand something, it’s another to discover your keys for changing it.
4) Being disappointed in prior therapy: “I’ve had years of therapy, and my life is better overall, but here I am, still wanting a partner. “ Even very good therapy may not resolve all the blocks that come up around love. It’s common for a first round of therapy to help someone feel better, work better and improve their relationship with themselves – but romantic intimacy is often the last psychological knot to untie. The ways we love, and hold ourselves back, the unconscious puzzles we try to solve through coupling, the unique issues of sharing our bodies, and daily lives, are rooted in earliest – often pre-verbal – experience, and in our deepest needs. It may be that the work you’ve done in the past is exactly what was needed for you to be ready now, to dissolve the final barriers to love.
5) Faith in “the universe”: “When the time is right” or “When I’m really ready, love will just happen.” Well…maybe…but that seems like an iffy proposition. Like a rain dance, there are rituals that may put out your desire to the universe, signal your readiness to be drenched in the life-giving waters of love. But this approach begs the question: what does real readiness for love mean?
There’s a woman I’ve known for twenty years who I run into now and then. Every time we meet I’m struck by her charm, originality and warmth. Every time she firmly states that she is, finally, ready for love – and so – because she knows she’s truly ready now (not like last time, when she only thought she was ready), she’s sure it will happen.
I would love to see her have the relationship she’s been wanting all these years. But I’m suspicious of a sentence like “It will happen.” ( shout out to English buffs: it’s not called “passive construction” for nothing.)
For me the real question is: How do we evolve from hurt, disappointment, shaken self-esteem or unconscious patterns into self-awareness, accurate perception and emotional resilience – the signs that actually predict and create lasting love?
Stay tuned. This is one of the issues we’ll be looking at in future blogs.
© 2017 Gail Weiner
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