Wow! A post I wrote a few weeks ago about relationships is my most read blog post since the Stik debacle! So I’d like to say something else that has really helped me.
Some years ago, I read a blog post that discussed what potential does a romantic relationship have? Say you’re in a relationship, and it’s not going that great… what is that relationship’s POTENTIAL? I think it’s something we’ve all wondered.
The blog author basically said that a relationship only has the potential to be exactly what it has been so far. We make up stories in our head like oh, when he stops drinking, or oh, when she gets a job, things between us will be GREAT. There’s always something that might happen in the future that’ll make this relationship right.
I Call This The “Double Fantasy.”
The first fantasy is what you hope might happen to your partner… he stops drinking. She gets a job. He loses the weight. She gets off her meds… or she gets back on her meds. This is a fantasy because we don’t know that this will EVER happen. It’s something WE want to happen, but that doesn’t mean it will, and it doesn’t mean it’ll happen the way we’d imagine or prefer. That’s what makes it a fantasy. It’s a roll of a die if what we want to happen will possibly happen exactly the way we wish it would.
The second fantasy is how great you imagine the relationship being when (IF) the first fantasy actually happens (which is often unlikely). You imagine at that point, she’ll really love you, or he’ll pay more attention, or she’ll want more sex, or he’ll open up, or she’ll treat you the way you want… The reality is that THAT may never happen either! Even if the first fantasy actually came to be, that does not automatically mean that the result or outcome is the one we dreamed up. The outcome could be something different than our fantasy. There could even be NO change at all.
The Right Relationship Feels Right
You’ll know you’re in the right relationship when you’re happy. Seems obvious, right? Yet if your answer to, “Are you happy?” sounds something like, “I hope to someday be,” then not only are you NOT happy, but you are probably in Double Fantasy-land. You have probably imagined a future what-if-on-top-of-a-what-if that will be nearly impossible to attain. You’re hoping that you roll the greatest dice roll in history, and your Double Fantasy comes true.
This also takes you out of the present, and puts you in a dreamy, unknown future that is completely out of your control. Why is it so out of your control? Because it has to do with what someone else may or may not do, and how that person may or may not change in response to something they do or don’t do! You don’t get to control ANY of that. If you could control it, it would already be exactly the way you wanted it.
Live In The Now
If you have to look to a possible future to hope your happiness is there, or you’re looking at the past for where your happiness is, then you’re not living in this moment.
I once asked my parents why they never divorced, and my mother’s answer was (at the time), “Well, we’ve put 33 years into it.” One would hope she’d say something like, “I deeply love your father, and look forward to spending my whole life with him.” For her, it seemed to be a matter of well, we have a history and a past, so we’ll just keep doing this.
Another unhappily married person I know has told me that he has history with his wife, and that should count for something. It does. It is a reminder for you of exactly what you can expect from your wife: more of what you have been getting from her already… which he tended to describe with words like “hurt” and “frustration,” and he was probably being kind. That past and history you want to hold on to… was it that good? If you consider yourself unhappily married, you’ve plotted your marital exit, or you have ASKED for a marital exit, your past with your spouse was probably not that good… and I’d say the future ain’t so bright. Why are we holding on to that? Why are we putting glue on our house of cards?
Keep A Journal
Create a journal with two columns for each day. Column 1 is your list of what things your partner (boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse) did that made you feel truly loved, adored, respected, desired, deeply connected to your partner, and and all-around good. Column 2 is your list of what your partner did that day that made you feel annoyed, hurt, rejected, doubtful, ignored, belittled, or abandoned. Do NOT put things in column 1 that any friend or acquaintance might do such as “bought you a soda” or “held the door for you.” We’re looking for the things a life partner does that make you feel really special and connected to someone you’d consider as your life partner. Then again, if “he bought me a soda” is the brightest spot in your day’s interactions with him, that should tell you something.
Do that for two weeks, and then go and read your two weeks back, straight through in one sitting. Which column has more in it?
That also will tell you who your partner truly is, not the fantasy you have created around the “potential” that partner has. I am FAMOUS for dating people where I tend to see the potential, and I sometimes ignore the reality. I fall in love with my own fantasy of who he might be when ________. Maybe today, someone can learn from my mistakes and these ideas, and get themselves out of something negative, abusive, or just not right for them.
I promise I won’t turn the Brass Flowers blog into a dating advice column. But since that last post was so popular, and I got so many private “thank yous” on it, I figured I might say something else about love and relationships. I know that some day, I will get it together with the guy out there who’s my “meant to be,” and I won’t need fantasies or what ifs. He will just be right for me, in every moment. That person is out there for you. You don’t need to wait for the person you’re with now to magically turn into the person you really wish he or she were. I wouldn’t want someone waiting for me to turn into somebody else. I want someone to love me as is!
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