I’m not sure what all these feelings that are bugging me are. Sometimes it feels perfect and sometimes it just doesn’t feel right. I know my decision is right…isn’t it? Maybe this is just the natural emotional process of a divorce. It is emotional trauma in a way and I’ve been put in a position lately where I tend to endure this type of trauma…? I dunno. Maybe it’s not quite that big…but it is taking a toll on me in a sense. I feel tired, exhausted and a little depressed. My baby girl seems a bit more cheerful today so that’s a good thing. I find her as my perfect little girl. I understand sometimes she can get a bit fussy but that is natural and normal when she is hungry, sleepy, or sick. Even adults get moody during those times. I know I’m never all cheery when I’m hungry, sleepy or sick. If I’m hungry, I can be a monster. I have to eat whatever is at hand right away so I don’t get too moody. I’m definitely not a morning person, and I guess my little girl takes that from me. I completely understand her. If she’s gotten adequate sleep, then she’s an angel in the morning though. Mommy never really gets enough sleep I guess. During tired/sick times…she’s the cry baby and of course as a mom I’ll try to comfort and appease her the best I know how. I still nurse her. That’s her comfort. That’s what I’ve been doing for 2 and a half years. Not an easy thing for me to break: her habit and mine. Not all people see it the same. I nursed her at the child center at the gym today since it was necessary. It was her nap time that I am skipping and not at home to put her to bed…would you hit a little girl and discipline her because she’s sleepy, tired and crying and does not want to stay in the daycare center while mom goes to class? Not a loving mom…I would only reprimand her if she is doing something bad…not when I know she’s tired and sleepy and that is why she cries. I volunteered to be her human pacifier because I know it would calm her down and that’s one way of showing love. People cry and feel hurt when something is wrong. I kind of feel like I need a shoulder to cry on tonight. I’m not sure exactly what is wrong… But it is not the happiest of nights. I’ll probably sleep with tears in my eyes. It has started…
This goes for both genders i think…even though it’s written by a guy.
Some people think my views towards romantic relationships are a little extreme sometimes. And I get it, I often use extreme examples to illustrate my point when it comes things like values and boundaries. A lot of people think I’m suggesting that you only seek perfection in your love life, which just results in unrealistic expectations, which then results in disappointment because no one is perfect.
Well, of course, everyone has faults. It’s impossible to find someone without some emotional baggage or insecurities.
The real question is, how do we deal with it? In the first two articles of this series, I pointed out how to notice emotionally manipulative behavior and how to avoid women who display it. These were women who had problems and baggage and used them as a weapon with the men they date.
I want to talk about what traits to actively look for in a relationship partner when deciding to date or commit to them, baggage and insecurities and all.
LEARNING THE HARD WAY
My first handful of significant relationships were mired with a lot of manipulation and victim/rescuer dynamics. These relationships were great learning experiences, but they also caused me a great deal of pain that I had to eventually learn from.
It wasn’t until I managed to find myself in relationships with some emotionally healthy women who were able to manage their flaws well that I really learned what to look for when dating someone.
And I discovered in this time that there was one trait in a woman that I absolutely must have to be in a relationship with her, and it was something that I would never compromise on again (and I haven’t). Some of us are unwilling to compromise on superficial traits: looks, intelligence, education, etc. Those are important, but if there’s one trait that I’ve learned you should never compromise on, it’s this:
The ability to see one’s own flaws and be accountable for them.
Because the fact is that problems are inevitable. Every relationship will run into fights and each person will run up against their emotional baggage at various times. How long the relationship lasts and how well it goes comes down to both people being willing and able to recognize the snags in themselves and communicate them openly.
Think of your love interest and ask yourself, “If I gave him/her honest, constructive criticism about how I think he/she could be better, how would they react?” Would they throw a huge fit? Cause drama? Blame you and criticize you back? Claim you don’t love them? Storm out and make you chase after them?
Or would they appreciate your perspective, and even if hurts a little or if it’s uncomfortable, even if there was a little bit of an emotional outburst at first, would they eventually consider it and be willing to talk about it? Without blaming or shaming. Without causing unnecessary drama. Without trying to make you jealous or angry.
Then they’re not dating material.
But — here’s the million dollar question — think of that same love interest, and now imagine that they gave you constructive criticism and pointed out what they believed to be your biggest flaws and blind spots. How would you react? Would you brush it off? Would you place the blame on them or call them names? Would you logically try to argue your way out of it? Would you get angry or insecure?
Chances are you would. Chances are the other person would too. Most people do. And that’s why they end up dating each other.
Having open, intimate conversations with someone where you’re able to openly talk about one another’s flaws without resorting to blaming or shaming is possibly the hardest thing to do in any relationship. Very few people are capable of it. To this day, when I sit down with my girlfriend, or my father, or one of my best friends and have one of these conversations, I feel my chest tighten, my stomach turn in a knot, my arms sweat.
It’s not pleasant. But it’s absolutely mandatory for a healthy long-term relationship. And the only way you find this in a person is by approaching the entire relationship — from the moment you first meet them — with honesty and integrity, by expressing your emotions and sexuality without blame or shame, and not degenerating into bad habits of playing games or stirring up drama.
Suppressing or over-expressing your emotions will attract someone who also suppresses or over-expresses their emotions. Expressing your emotions in a healthy manner will attract someone who also expresses their emotions in a healthy manner.
You may think a person like this doesn’t exist. She’s a unicorn. But you’d be surprised. Your emotional integrity naturally self-selects the emotional integrity of the people you meet and date. And when you fix yourself, as if by some magical cheat code, the people you meet and date become more and more functional themselves. And the obsession and anxiety of dating dissolves and becomes simple and clear. The process ceases to be a long and analytical one but a short and pleasant one. The way she cocks her head when she smiles. The way your eyes light up a little bit more when you talk to him.
Your worries will dissolve. And regardless of what happens, whether you’re together for a minute, a month or a lifetime, all there is is acceptance.
To an extent, I think most people do at least one of these:
Below are six of the most common tendencies in relationships that many couples think are healthy and normal, but are actually toxic and destroying everything you hold dear. Get the tissues ready.
1. THE RELATIONSHIP SCORECARD
What It Is: The “keeping score” phenomenon is when someone you’re dating continues to blame you for past mistakes you made in the relationship. If both people in the relationship do this it devolves into what I call “the relationship scorecard,” where it becomes a battle to see who has screwed up the most over the months or years, and therefore who owes the other one more.
You were an asshole at Cynthia’s 28th birthday party back in 2010 and it has proceeded to ruin your life ever since. Why? Because there’s not a week that goes by that you’re not reminded of it. But that’s OK, because that time you caught her sending flirtatious text messages to her co-worker immediately removes her right to get jealous, so it’s kind of even, right?
Why It’s Toxic: The relationship scorecard develops over time because one or both people in a relationship use past wrongdoings in order to try and justify current righteousness. This is a double-whammy of suckage. Not only are you deflecting the current issue itself, but you’re ginning up guilt and bitterness from the past to manipulate your partner into feeling wrong in the present.
If this goes on long enough, both partners eventually spend most of their energy trying to prove that they’re less culpable than the other, rather than solving the current problem. People spend all of their time trying to be less wrong for each other instead of being more right for each other.
What You Should Do Instead:Deal with issues individually unless they are legitimately connected. If someone habitually cheats, then that’s obviously a recurring problem. But the fact that she embarrassed you in 2010 and now she got sad and ignored you today in 2013 have nothing to do with each other, so don’t bring it up.
You must recognize that by choosing to be with your significant other, you are choosing to be with all of their prior actions and behaviors. If you don’t accept those, then ultimately, you are not accepting them. If something bothered you that much a year ago, you should have dealt with it a year ago.
2. DROPPING “HINTS” AND OTHER PASSIVE-AGGRESSION
What It Is: Instead of stating a desire or thought overtly, your partner tries to nudge you in the right direction of figuring it out yourself. Instead of saying what’s actually upsetting you, you find small and petty ways to piss your partner off so you’ll then feel justified in complaining to them.
Why It’s Toxic: Because it shows that you two are not comfortable communicating openly and clearly with one another. A person has no reason to be passive-aggressive if they feel safe expressing any anger or insecurity within the relationship. A person will never feel a need to drop “hints” if they feel like they won’t be judged or criticized for it.
What You Should Do Instead:State your feelings and desires openly. And make it clear that the other person is not necessarily responsible or obligated to them but that you’d love to have their support. If they love you, they’ll almost always be able to give it.
3. HOLDING THE RELATIONSHIP HOSTAGE
What It Is: When one person has a simple criticism or complaint and blackmails the other person by threatening the commitment of the relationship as a whole. For instance, if someone feels like you’ve been cold to them, instead of saying, “I feel like you’re being cold sometimes,” they will say, “I can’t date someone who is cold to me all of the time.”
Why It’s Toxic: It’s emotional blackmail and it creates tons of unnecessary drama. Every minor hiccup in the flow of the relationship results in a perceived commitment crisis. It’s crucial for both people in a relationship to know that negative thoughts and feelings can be communicated safely to one another without it threatening the relationship itself. Otherwise people will suppress their true thoughts and feelings which leads to an environment of distrust and manipulation.
What You Should Do Instead: It’s fine to get upset at your partner or to not like something about them. That’s called being a normal human being. But understand that committing to a person and always liking a person are not the same thing. One can be committed to someone and not like everything about them. One can be eternally devoted to someone yet actually be annoyed or angered by their partner at times. On the contrary, two partners who are capable of communicating feedback and criticism towards one another, only without judgment or blackmail, will strengthen their commitment to one another in the long-run.
4. BLAMING YOUR PARTNER FOR YOUR OWN EMOTIONS
What It Is: Let’s say you’re having a crappy day and your partner isn’t exactly being super sympathetic or supportive at the moment. They’ve been on the phone all day with some people from work. They got distracted when you hugged them. You want to lay around at home together and just watch a movie tonight, but they have plans to go out and see their friends.
So you lash out at them for being so insensitive and callous toward you. You’ve been having a shitty day and they have done nothing about it. Sure, you never asked, but they should just know to make you feel better. They should have gotten off the phone and ditched their plans based on your lousy emotional state.
Why It’s Toxic: Blaming our partners for our emotions is a subtle form of selfishness, and a classic example of the poor maintenance ofpersonal boundaries. When you set a precedent that your partner is responsible for how you feel at all times (and vice-versa), you will develop codependent tendencies. Suddenly, they’re not allowed to plan activities without checking with you first. All activities at home — even the mundane ones like reading books or watching TV — must be negotiated and compromised. When someone begins to get upset, all personal desires go out the window because it is now your responsibility to make one another feel better.
The biggest problem of developing these codependent tendencies is that they breed resentment. Sure, if my girlfriend gets mad at me once because she’s had a shitty day and is frustrated and needs attention, that’s understandable. But if it becomes an expectation that my life revolves around her emotional well-being at all times, then I’m soon going to become very bitter and even manipulative towards her feelings and desires.
What You Should Do Instead:Take responsibility for your own emotions and expect your partner to be responsible for theirs. There’s a subtle yet important difference between being supportive of your partner and being obligated to your partner. Any sacrifices should be made as an autonomous choice and not seen as an expectation. As soon as both people in a relationship become culpable for each other’s moods and downswings, it gives them both incentives to hide their true feelings and manipulate one another.
5. DISPLAYS OF “LOVING” JEALOUSY
What It Is: Getting pissed off when your partner talks, touches, calls, texts, hangs out, or sneezes in the general vicinity of another person and then you proceed to take that anger out on your partner and attempt to control their behavior. This often leads to insano behaviors such as hacking into your partner’s email account, looking through their text messages while they’re in the shower or even following them around town and showing up unannounced when they’re not expecting you.
Why It’s Toxic: It surprises me that some people describe this as some sort of display of affection. They figure that if their partner wasn’t jealous, then that would somehow mean that they weren’t loved by them.
This is absolutely clownshit crazy to me. It’s controlling and manipulative. It creates unnecessary drama and fighting. It transmits a message of a lack of trust in the other person. And to be honest, it’s demeaning. If my girlfriend cannot trust me to be around other attractive women by myself, then it implies that she believes that I’m either a) a liar, or b) incapable of controlling my impulses. In either case, that’s a woman I do not want to be dating.
What You Should Do Instead:Trust your partner. It’s a radical idea, I know. Some jealousy is natural. But excessive jealousy and controlling behaviors towards your partner are signs of your own feelings of unworthiness and you should learn to deal with them and not force them onto those close to you. Because otherwise you are only going to eventually push that person away.
6. BUYING THE SOLUTIONS TO RELATIONSHIP PROBLEMS
What It Is: Any time a major conflict or issue comes up in the relationship, instead of solving it, one covers it up with the excitement and good feelings that come with buying something nice or going on a trip somewhere.
My parents were experts at this one. And it got them real far: a big fat divorce and 15 years of hardly speaking to each other since. They have both since independently told me that this was the primary problem in their marriage: continuously covering up their real issues with superficial pleasures.
Why It’s Toxic: Not only does it brush the real problem under the rug (where it will always re-emerge and even worse the next time), but it sets an unhealthy precedent within the relationship. This is not a gender-specific problem, but I will use the traditional gendered situation as an example. Let’s imagine that whenever a woman gets angry at her boyfriend/husband, the man “solves” the issue by buying the woman something nice, or taking her to a nice restaurant or something. Not only does this give the woman unconscious incentive to find more reasons to be upset with the man, but it also gives the man absolutely no incentive to actually be accountable for the problems in the relationship. So what do you end up with? A checked-out husband who feels like an ATM, and an incessantly bitter woman who feels unheard.
What You Should Do Instead:Actually, you know, deal with the problem. Trust was broken? Talk about what it will take to rebuild it. Someone feels ignored or unappreciated? Talk about ways to restore those feelings of appreciation. Communicate!
There’s nothing wrong with doing nice things for a significant other after a fight to show solidarity and to reaffirm commitment. But one should never use gifts or fancy things to replace dealing with the underlying emotional issues. Gifts and trips are called luxuries for a reason, you only get to appreciate them when everything else is already good. If you use them to cover up your problems, then you will find yourself with a much bigger problem down the line.t
If there’s one area of our lives that we tend to care most about, relationships might be it. In Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love, she describes her friend, a psychologist, who is asked to offer counseling to Cambodian refugees. Daunted by the task of helping people who have suffered such harrowing journeys, she discovers all they wanted to talk about were their relationships.
Relationships bring us our greatest joys and our greatest challenges. From a spiritual perspective, relationships are assignments for the purpose of growth opportunities. It is in the context of a relationship with another individual where we see the places in which we need to heal, based on our triggers, blocks and patterns.
Codependency is arguably one of the biggest challenges most of us face in relationships — that feeling that we can’t exist without the other person, that their existence and validation is required for us to feel happy, even complete. Codependency blocks us from accessing our best selves, and also blocks the potential for further growth in the relationship.
Strangely, most of us don’t even know we’re enacting codependent patterns in our relationships. Why? Because we’ve been taught to believe certain myths about how relationships work, especially romantic relationships. Many of these myths foster codependency.
I was living in codependent relationships for two decades and didn’t even know it. When I hit a rock-bottom in a breakup a few years ago, it was all revealed to me; my fears came rushing in and my patterns rose to the surface for me to finally see them clearly. My fears of being alone, my deep longing for the love and attention outside of me, the fact that I had placed my power in another person making them the source of my love and happiness, all came into my awareness and there was no turning back.
I was finally ready to do things differently. Knowing there must be a better way, I stepped onto my spiritual path and experienced a radical transformation from the inside out, beginning with the relationship with myself. First step was awareness — recognizing the ways in which I had been living in codependent relationships and letting fear run the show, which was not love.
A lot of the time codependency looks like intense love, but “needing” another person often stems from fear, not love. Here are ten common ways to identify if you’re in a codependent relationship (and might not even know it):
1. You can’t live without the other person.
I know, this is supposed to be romantic, but it’s not, it’s attachment which is different from connection. It’s not sexy and it’s not fulfilling. Recognize your wholeness and completeness so that you can truly enjoy the other person in your life rather than being half of a person who is incomplete without someone else; you are the cake — everything else is the icing.
2. The other person must behave in a certain way.
In order for you to feel loved or for you to love them, the other person must be who we need them to be. This is conditional love (as opposed to unconditional love), which doesn’t allow the other person to be who they really are: in other words, your happiness is dependent on them being how you want them to be.
3. You blame others for how you feel.
We are actually responsible for how we feel and it’s not someone else’s responsibility to make us happy. We make ourselves happy first so that others can make us happy.
4. You play caregiver.
A healthy relationship is between two adults, not two children or one child and one parent. When we are mothering or taking care of someone who is not taking care of themselves, it’s disempowering for both people. When we spiritually grow up, we learn how to take care of ourselves so someone else doesn’t have to do it for us and we can live in our highest truth, not as a child or a victim or helpless. We are all capable.
5. You’re controlling outcomes and situations.
When we are controlling the other person or how things are unfolding, we are living in fear not in love. Surrender the relationship, surrender the other person’s process and what their choices are and trust that everything will unfold perfectly if you allow it to do so.
6. You give from a place of lack.
We might be putting ourselves last and focusing on the other person more than we do ourselves and we lose ourselves in the relationship. This pattern comes from a lack of self-love and when we try to give from an empty well, anger and resentment can build because we are not filling ourselves up first and giving from a place of abundance.
7. You think your happiness is predicated on the other person.
It’s not. Our happiness is within and when we stop searching for it in our partner, and instead connect with ourselves in a daily practice, we connect to our true source within and that happiness can overflow to the other person, rather than making them our only source.
8. You don’t feel free.
Love is freedom. Rules and constrictions are fear. We must do what we want to do, not what other people want us to do.
9. You’re waiting to be saved.
No, this isn’t a conscious choice and yes, it’s rampant in our collective psyche. Save yourself. Be your own knight in shining armor, the heroine of your own story and then he can be exactly who he needs to be, without having to rescue you.
10. You think you need to get the love you want.
Giving love is more important than getting love. You have an unlimited source within you. It will come back to you tenfold
Lots of interesting reads, but this one stood out the most.
I think I am slowly learning more about myself and what I want in life. Maybe that is how certain folks are happy in their circumstances…how I didn’t see it before. Now, maybe I am slowly seeing things? Dunno. I’m still in the process of learning everything. I will take my time to enjoy the learning process and each moment I have with those who are dear to me. Life is a special gift. We should do our best in every way we can and treat all people fairly. Though, I do need to learn how to prioritize better. Lilly is my priority. I need to make sure I give her enough and what I can. I need to spend more time during the day with her rather than just before bed time. I don’t remember much of my childhood…though I was lucky to have a mom that was always at home with me. Sometimes to the point of it’s too much of her and I need breathing room from her suffocating love. But hey, that is the kind of love she knows how to give. She’s changed, yet still in a sense the same. People’s traits and personalities cannot completely shift. I need to accept that I will never be a completely different person and be happy with myself. I can’t be Ms. Cooper in how I deal with high schoolers, but I also won’t be like teachers I have seen that quit within 2 weeks of teaching. I’m in the middle there somewhere. Maybe average. But since I’m alive and breathing, there’s room for growth. Room for many more mistakes, and much more to be learned. I will embrace everything life has to give. Today will be a better day. Each day is a gift.