Personal Note Like many of you, I love love. I find relationships of all types to be exciting, fulfilling and an opportunity to learn. I struggled when I was young to understand if love happened to you or if it was created. While I find it is a bit of both, mostly happening to you due to chemistry, it wasn’t the question I thought I was asking. What I wanted to know what how to pick one person, out of all the millions in the world, and build a shared life. School, jobs, family, the lessons I have learned in constructing bonds has been instrumental in my understanding that in order to build something great, you need effort, persistence and understanding. With this being said and chemistry aside, you could build a life with anyone. What it comes down to next is finding the person who will create positive change in your life. Change is guaranteed, but it being positive is a choice. A choice you make yourself for your future self. Below is gathered information, both personal and researched. I invite you to deeply think about your life, your relationships with others and yourself. How are you growing?
“Everything that irritates us about others leads to an understanding of ourselves.”
-Carl Gustav Jung- Love… Anyone!
We change and learn tremendously in relationships. It’s not about whether or not you love each other (although it’s ideal if you do!) it is about effort. Anyone can make any marriage or partnership work, with the right communication, trust and respect. So why do we try to make relationships work without communication, trust and respect? Oh, because of love. This is important to remember! Especially in the first few golden months, also known as the honeymoon phase. Be cautious with who you give your heart to, but also keep in mind that not all feelings are meant to be a foundation to build upon. Not all love is meant to grow and not all feelings are meant to be explored. Relationships are like a structure. You create guidelines, walls, a foundation and then, eventually, you are decorating. To second guess anything in the relationship could metaphorically shake that house you built, making any one fearful. That is one reason why many stay in toxic relationships: scared of ruining what was created, what they hoped to build. Even though they may not want it anymore. First Comes Love, then... Fear? I find where there is love, there is fear. This is unfortunate but with purpose. When we have something we care deeply about, we instinctively have the fear of losing it. Why? Well, fear brings some valuable traits to the table. When used in a healthy manner, it encourages us to maintain a certain amount of effort and care. When unhealthy, it branches out into symptoms of toxicity or abuse. This can manifest in behaviors such as jealousy, lying, information manipulation, gaslighting, physical and emotional abuse and more. I will be creating an article solely on this, as many toxic behaviors have been categorized as “normal”. Talking it Out Fear brings us to do crazy things and have outlandish thoughts. This stems from evolution. Scientifically, if we don’t know where our significant other is, they could be in danger. In today’s world, that is called stalking, helicopter parenting and even harassment. We have to allow ourselves to evolve from our biological instincts. We have to know that we have baggage and that our personality might trigger others we care about, just as they do us. The best way to deal with it? Open communication. Imagine how you would feel if your significant other wholeheartedly told you they are struggling due to something they are forced to be around that reminds them of past pain. That’s much easier to hear than someone yelling, possibly cutting the cord of compassion between them.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall...
Everyone wants love, and should feel that they are worthy of it. When we do not know how to love ourselves, we end up not being able to truly love others. Not unconditionally, not with relentless compassion. How can you? Additionally, how can you accept love you do not feel you deserve?
Relationships often act as mirrors of ourselves, our desires and challenges. We learn about ourselves through disclosure, discussion and situations. This is no different in relationships. We find things that get under our skin, traits we defend not knowing why and projections we push out unconsciously. When our minds identify something they do not like about ourselves, we often project it onto another so that we can feel release. However, the trait is still there and our minds will lie to us until it comes up again. Relationships give you the accountability and motivation to work on these things, to mediate and find inner peace. Living, learning and growing through love is key. This means to find the light, see the best in it and to take it as a lesson and not a punishment. Try not to take things personally, as everyone is doing their best. Attempt to see the issue as an objective problem that does not involve you. Reframe the problem being between the two of you and it being you two vs the problem. Becoming closer to being responsive and not reactive is the way to mindfully navigate your life and relationships. Take Away Points: - Partnership is about effort, communication, trust and respect - With love comes a fear of loss - Beware of toxic habits forming - Face the person in the mirror/ Sorting through personal baggage together - Live and learn through love - Respond, do not react Concluding Thoughts
Bottom line, know that love is light, and with light comes shadows. Honor yourself and your partner by being honest, communicative and respectful on these matters. Know what you want, or openly explore it together. It is okay to not have all the answers, but it is not okay to stick around toxicity and abuse. If it starts with negatives, you can bet it will end similarly. There are so many people in the world who will treat you, support you and honor you for the person you are. Don’t settle, don’t give up. What type of people do future you have around? Raise your standards and watch those who stand to meet your expectations.
Citations: Ball, Tara Blair. “Why We Accept the Love We Think We Deserve.” Medium, Recovering After a Divorce, 2 Aug. 2019, https://medium.com/recovering-after-a-divorce/why-we-accept-the-love-we-think-we-deserve-cc0713a922ba. Barash, David P. Out of Eden: the Surprising Consequences of Polygamy. Oxford University Press, 2016. Buss, David M. Evolutionary Psychology: the New Science of the Mind. Allyn & Bacon, 2015. Domenicali-Rochelle, LCSW, Dena. “Why Love Can Make You Crazy.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 11 Apr. 2016, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/contemporary-psychoanalysis-in-action/201604/why-love-can-make-you-crazy. Folger, Joseph P., et al. Working through Conflict: Strategies for Relationships, Groups, and Organizations. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2018. Pillay, Srinivasan. “Relationships: When Love Turns To Fear.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 17 Nov. 2011, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/relationships-when-love-t_b_392254?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAI4ovMVvzENq01MlxgQfy_bu-3G1nOctRADBKUVfrK3EDUmkiQ4Iq5t6_US96OFmIDb2DGGE9HCHSNQZdiPWSwtLJUs7MajrEG9ycn2fLY8zg3lEt0KTFl5bDKenA1RjcjY1XMMrRTKvrtuzLFKDnH2YYsQRg-dNqtkxyn-7vzzg.love “What Makes Marriage Work.” For Your Marriage, https://www.foryourmarriage.org/what-makes-marriage-work/.