Many people assume that their relationships just happen to them.
If you think about it, you’d probably agree that we all take a certain amount of baggage into our relationships in the form of conditioning from our past. What we are less aware of is how this baggage and our experience of life create our beliefs and sense of self-worth. Most of us are blissfully unaware of the resulting behavioural patterns that can and so often do sabotage our relationships with those we care about most.
Here are two facts which will help you understand how your relationships unfold. The first is that:
No one can love you more than you love yourself
the second is that
You teach others how to treat you
1. Loving Yourself and Putting Yourself First
Many of us continually put our own needs behind those of our partner, whilst secretly holding on to resentment about doing so. This in fact teaches our partner that we do not value ourselves, yet we are generally surprised when they begin treating us in the same way we treat ourselves. When we learn to love ourselves and fulfill our own happiness, then we have an abundance to give and share with others. Remember too, that your partner will always be able to sense and feel your underlying energy or state, whether you have a smile on your face or not. What lies beneath your surface will show itself in seemingly subtle, yet powerful ways…
It’s vitally important for you to be aware of who you’re taking into the relationship with you. By this, I mean you… Understanding and loving yourself fully is the biggest gift you can give yourself, your partner and your relationship. When you love yourself, you take no neediness into the relationship with you. If instead, you make your partner responsible for creating your happiness, a huge burden is placed upon them. Not only that, but you will always be in fear of what may happen if at any time they don’t fulfill it. This puts a great strain on both of you. When two partners behave like this it is sometimes referred to as a co-dependency.
Loving yourself brings many wonderful virtues into the partnership with you. Firstly, you enter into the relationship as your true self, without putting on any kind of act or mask to try and be what you think your partner expects you to be. You wouldn’t even entertain being anyone other than your true self, because you’d know without doubt that you are worth loving for who you are. You would also know that being single is far better than being in a false relationship simply for the sake of it. When we put on this kind of mask, not only is it exhausting to keep up the act, but it builds a great deal of resentment beneath the surface because we feel we can never really be ourselves… ironically! Yet, so many of us do this subconsciously.
2. Being True to Yourself, and Why it’s so Vital to Feeling Accepted
Sadly, you will never feel accepted for who you are when you’re not being yourself, simply because deep down you know that the person being accepted by your partner isn’t actually the real you. Rejection is such a feared concept, yet by not being ourselves we impose it on ourselves. Instead of facing it, we enter into a game of doing and being things that will gain us love and appreciation. Life then becomes a game of acting so that we don’t experience rejection or disapproval. How different life would be though, if we didn’t fear either of these things in the first place. This is exactly the essence of why loving yourself is so vital.
It’s hugely important to real-ise, that when two people hide behind a mask, the masks will eventually fall away, revealing two complete strangers. Most people call that initial stage the honeymoon phase, and then wonder why things are never as exciting as they were in the beginning, or what they ever saw in their partner and the ideal of the relationship.
3. The Importance of Feeling Freedom within Love
When you love yourself, you will be able to gift your partner with a huge amount of freedom. You come into the relationship from a place of non-attachment. By this I mean unattached to the outcome – you do not place the burden of ‘I expect you to be with me for the rest of my life, whether you like it or not’ on your partner. This is what attachment looks like. You will not be fearful of them leaving you if they choose to, because you know that no matter what happens, you’ll handle it. You know you’d miss them and have to go through a grieving process, which is entirely normal and healthy, but once you heal from that, you know you’ll be okay.
By simply choosing to be together, rather than needing to be together, this allows you to place a huge amount of trust in your partner. By also trusting in yourself to deal with anything, it allows you to give yourself to the relationship fully from a place of fearless vulnerability. The beautiful thing is, that when your partner senses this kind of vulnerability from you, it is highly attractive and they are not likely to want to leave you or give you any reason to mistrust them. It’s amazing how it all unfolds. On the other hand, when you attempt to trap your partner through your mistrust of them because you couldn’t handle it if they ever left you and you continually question them and take away their freedom, they are far more likely to respond with exactly the behaviour you’re most fearful of.
4. Where Is Your Focus?
We have all been around people who have either brought out the best or worst in us. Have you ever worked for a boss who saw the very best in you, who believed in you, and as a result you stepped into the very best of yourself in that post and gave the job your all? On the reverse side of the coin, have you ever worked for a boss who didn’t believe in you and criticised you constantly? How did you show up in that job? Well relationships are no different…
One of the most magical things about intimacy is that what you focus on in your partner is what is most likely to transpire. If you focus on all the good, you will see more of it. You partner will sense that you are seeing the best in them, and are more likely to step into that place. Their behaviour towards you will reflect what you are seeing. If on the other hand, you’re focusing on everything your partner does that irritates you, or you’re constantly expecting a negative response from them when asking them something, they will also sense this and reflect back to you exactly what you’re expecting. In fact, your looking for it actually gives them not only more reasons to be irritating, but permission to be too.
5. Giving vs Bartering
One of the most beautiful things you can gift your partner with is a list of all the wonderful things they do for you, letting them know just how much you appreciate them. This creates a beautiful loving bond between you both. Not only that, but it opens your heart to true love lets them know just how valid they are in your life. In doing so, please don’t demand that they reply with a counter-list, because this is not giving from a place of authenticity… this is giving in order to receive, which will also leave you in a fearful energy. Many of us tend to work subconsciously on a hidden barter system when we give; a great example of this is to ask yourself how you felt the last time you sent your partner a loving text or e-mail and didn’t receive a reply? If you were disappointed by their lack of response, then was your gesture of love truly authentic, or simply because you needed to hear their reply? Giving with no expectation of how they should respond is a deeply loving thing to do.
6. Dangerous Assumptions
One of the greatest breakthroughs in a relationship is learning not to make negative assumptions about the meaning behind something your partner has just said or done. For instance, if he hasn’t texted you back, then this must mean he’s about to leave you. What if he’s just in a meeting though and hasn’t had the opportunity? What if your text made his day? If you’ve made the initial incorrect assumption, the problem is that you’ll treat him as if it’s true anyway and then make him have to explain what really happened. It’s these times our bartered giving can actually become a huge burden to another. He may become tired of that after a while; constant negative assumptions could result in bringing about exactly what you’re assuming. The thing to remember about assumptions is that they are a gamble. You could be right, you could be wrong. If you’re wrong, you’re creating a pure fabrication in your mind which your partner then has to somehow apologise for.
When your partner says or does something, their patterns of behaviour and model of the world won’t necessarily match yours. Whatever the assumption has been made about has been transferred from their beliefs and perception of the world into yours, which will be entirely different. But instead of always assuming the best, we tend to make negative assumptions about what’s just happened, then either don’t say a word and resent it, or launch into an argument. If you never share with your partner what you’ve just assumed, then you’ll treat them as if it’s true anyway, and they won’t even know what on earth is going on. Realistically, a partner trying to live in an atmosphere of permanently negative assumptions made about their behaviour doesn’t stand a chance of survival.
The best way to make assumptions if you must make them and want a loving, committed relationship, is to always make the best possible ones about your partner’s behaviour and intentions. If you are not in a heated argument, then always assume they are not setting out to hurt you. If he or she does say something that has hurt you, express your feelings in a loving way immediately and without blame. Andy and I agreed from day one that if either of us said anything which hurt the other, we would say ‘Ouch’ and explain what had hurt us. We were staggered by the number of times we found ourselves saying ‘Ouch’ when in fact, the other meant something entirely different from the way it was perceived, and it was most certainly not intended to hurt. It was simply the differences in our personalities and perception causing the differences. You might be surprised to find that you make far more negative assumptions that you imagine. Be aware that if these build up without resolution, they will create a huge amount of tension, resentment and animosity between you.
7. Infatuation Has Been Known to Cause Madness…
We often feel infatuated during the early stages of a relationship. This is generally the case when we don’t love ourselves fully and feel that burst of love and appreciation from a new partner which takes our ‘love score’ up to a 10 out of 10. These are the times when we usually become the person we think they want us to be, purely to ensure that we keep receiving that burst of love. This is the mask I mentioned earlier, and it can become an addiction. This is also unfortunately very fearful behaviour, because if they don’t provide the love we need in order to feel great about ourselves, we tend to take an emotional dive into the depths of despair. If, on the other hand, you have genuine love for yourself to begin with, then rather than thinking ‘Thank goodness someone loves me’, you can remain more realistic and evaluate whether that person is indeed right for you. It may seem unromantic… but how romantic is a 46% divorce rate, which rises sharply second and third time around?
8. The Big Differences Between Men and Women
Many people don’t have a clue just how differently men and women think, feel and communicate. Women often expect their man to understand and read them the way their female friends do, which isn’t the case. Men’s brains are designed very differently and for very good reason. On the whole, men are more logical and achievement orientated, whereas women are more emotional and relationship orientated; much of their respective communication will stem from these two different viewpoints. Men tend to focus best on one thing at a time, while women can multi-task. While women need to talk to reduce stress, men will want to disappear into their cave and have some quiet to reduce their stress. It’s also natural for men to want to find a solution to your problems when you are sharing them with him – this often drives women crazy, yet what it’s actually saying is that he’s functioning perfectly well. If you want him to listen and not offer a solution, then simply tell him so lovingly, so that he knows what you expect from him.
Many women aren’t aware just how much men generally feel emasculated when their woman points out a solution to them – men actually take this as criticism! In today’s society, women have high powered jobs, are often the main bread-winner in the house and it can be difficult to know how to maintain the right balance. So learning about the differences between men and women’s thinking, behaviour and methods of communication are powerful keys to learning how to create an a deeply intimate relationship. If a man can feel great about himself as a man when he’s with the woman he loves, without her feeling like she’s lost any part of who she is and is in fact becoming even stronger as a woman, then they’ll both be on the road to success and bringing out the best in one another. This is one of the main reasons that intimate relationships are such a fertile learning ground for our own self-growth.
9. The Languages of Love
Another wonderful recipe to creating a fantastic bond between you is to know and understand your and your partner’s languages of love. People prefer to give and receive love in one or more of five ways. If you know what your favourite love languages are, then communicate them clearly with your partner so they know what makes you feel loved. For instance, if they give you lots of gifts to express their love, when you really love words of affirmation, then you’re not going to feel loved, and your partner will not understand what they have done wrong. Once you’ve shared your love languages, then leave space for them to fill the gap without placing demands on them to do so. Once you have both shared your languages of love, and consciously choose to give love in the way that your partner loves receiving it, then you can create an energy of deep mutual caring, and of giving and receiving.
10. Creating a Soul-Connected Experience
I truly believe that a deeply soul-connected relationship is something that is experienced when two people consciously choose to share a genuine love, respect and truth with one another. The rewards are infinite… and they take a great deal of inner-growth and conscious awareness.
You can become each others greatest teachers by allowing your partner to be the best of themselves and learning from them, rather than demanding they change to fit in with your model of the world. When we try to fix or change our partner, they will never feel good about themselves in the relationship – how could they, when you keep reminding them how they need to be more like you, because who they are simply isn’t good enough for you. They are not you though, and they are not meant to be. If you were both the same in the relationship, there would be nothing to learn and one of you would be superfluous. This is exactly why relationships are so great for our own learning and growth.
In essence, a deep intimate love is experienced when a relationship becomes stronger, deeper and more fulfilling through time… it doesn’t wear off or become less exciting than it was in the beginning… quite the opposite. It becomes more enriching, more in flow and more sensual as the years go by.
If a relationship is to truly thrive, then it’s because both partners have chosen to step up and learned how to:
- Stop taking offense.
- Communicate lovingly and affectionately.
- Be responsible for their own happiness.
- Give without conditions attached.
- Stop the mind and guessing games.
- Don’t make their current partner pay for their ex’s mistakes.
- Care about and meet their partner’s relationship needs.
- Share their truth, and communicate it lovingly.
- Know what they want from life.
- Love, appreciate and learn from their differences.
When you really get down to it, not living any one of these is enough to destroy a relationship.
It’s certainly food for thought…