I've noticed a theme in my coaching sessions - love and relationships. I'm seeing clients at all different stages, ages and challenges on the love spectrum, and the underlying theme is, how do I have a real, committed and connected relationship? Sometimes they're bumped and bruised; divorce, infidelities and rejections have left them feeling unsure and protective of their hearts. Others are dating, and want to know how to find the “one".
“I’m not the silly romantic you think. I don’t want the heavens or the shooting stars. I don’t want gemstones or gold. I have those things already. I want…a steady hand. A kind soul. I want to fall asleep, and wake, knowing my heart is safe. I want to love, and be loved.”
~ Shana Abe
ARE THEY...THE ONE?
Maybe you're dating, or you've been in a relationship for awhile, and you are trying to determine if it's healthy, worth working on, or if you're ready to commit to this person?
When I ask my clients what they're looking for in a partner, they list a number of qualities, most of them personality traits: funny, smart, outgoing or they list life values, such as: loyal, hardworking and generous, and of course attributes: tall, athletic and so on. This looks like a decent list, but this is not how you decide, if he or she is the one. How you really decide, is based on how safe you feel to be yourself, and how safe you feel growing, and sharing in the relationship. You decide, because you 100% respect who they are right now, and you feel 100% respected in return. My clients are often in love with the idea of the person, who they sometimes are, or who they could be, but upon closer examination they discover that they don't really love the person, or how they're showing up right now.
Many times the attributes on the list are bonus features and upgrades, but what you need to look for are character values - solid values that promote the two primary functions of any relationship - pleasure and growth. John Gottman, a Psychologist who runs the Love Lab, describes it this way, "a relationship should serve dual functions, a “Den of pleasure”—for fun, companionship, sex, laughter, etc. which you as a human need…and a “Laboratory for growth”—the ultimate place of challenge for your soul to be nurtured to grow—where you inspire one another’s character development."
A person of solid character will understand that love is an opportunity to share in this journey with joy and grace, and will also weather the challenges with a curiosity and willingness to grow with you. You'll have an abundance of pleasurable times, and a safe, mutually respectful connection, that makes the growing pains worth it. You'll feel secure to express feelings, and what you need. You'll each take responsibility for your actions, and reactions, and are willing to learn just as much about yourself, as you are willing to learn about your partner.
“True love is supposed to make you into a better person-uplift you.” ~ Emily Giffin
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF THEY'RE, THE ONE?
1. If you keep arguing about and dealing with the same issues, and there's never a change or action taken to improve. Not the one. 2. You feel like a sadder, more stressed version of yourself, more often than you don't. Not the one. 3. Either one of you would have to change a ton in order to be acceptable to, happy with and to feel safe with the other person. Not the one. 4. You start to question why there's so much wrong with you and why you're so broken. Not the one. 5. You are physically and/or emotionally abused. Definitely not the one. 6. They make you entirely responsible for their happiness and vice versa. Not the one. 7. You see patterns of behavior repeated and no matter how much they hurt you and they promise to change – they don't. Not the one. 8. You're consistently making excuses for them, rather than bragging about them. Not the one. 9. You should not, could not or would not bring them home to Grandma. Not the one. 10.You would not want your niece, best friend or brother to date a person like this person. Not the one. 11.You always feel confused, unclear and question everything about the relationship. Not the one. 12.You're losing friends and important relationships in your life. Not the one. 13.You're always worried about what they're doing when you aren't together. Not the one. 14.One or both of you is acting out, walking out or taking it out on the other person when there are challenging conversations or difficult feelings. Not the one. 15.Your life vision does not jive and important values will never match (religion, kids or no kids, Star Wars is better than Star Trek etc.) Not the one.
So in a nutshell - If you do not LOVE WHO YOU ARE with this person, they're probably not the one for you.