In The Absence Of Others

I work with men and women who are fresh out of a relationship. Hurt, betrayed and feeling broken, some want revenge. Others jump right into distraction of dating multiple people in order not to deal with what they are feeling. Nobody wants to feel hurt. But it is that pain, that will often lead us to a more successful relationship in the future. When we neglect to examine our part in a failed {for lack if a better term} relationship, we bring those same behaviors to the next one. And what I see commonly is the pattern being repeated over and over again. So what do we do?

I am working with a very strong and independent woman at the moment. She is currently stuck in toxic behaviors that are sabotaging her relationship. Lack of boundaries, communication and intimacy, make for some very dark moments for her. I am a strong believer in taking time to develop who we are, in order to bring that authentic self to our relationships. How many change once they “get the got”? In other words, know who you are and be exactly that person from the first conversation you ever have in any dating scenario. I’m not talking about putting all your cards on the table from the beginning. I am talking about being honest in your dealings and being true to yourself.

I can recall working with a couple who ended up in my office after 3 years of dating. The boyfriend was shocked to learn his girlfriend didn’t like watching football with him on Sunday’s. While it doesn’t sound like a big deal, for the first 2 and a half years, that was their Sunday ritual. When all of a sudden said didn’t want to do that anymore, he thought she didn’t want to spend time with him. When we started to dive into the sudden change, she finally was able to disclose that she never liked football. In fact, she hated from day one. She admitted she was just trying to make him happy.

When we aren’t our authentic self, we eventually implode. Think of how many Sunday’s were wasted in the past 2 and a half years. While I applaud her willingness to compromise, she realized that this was not a compromise at all. When her authentic self finally couldn’t take it anymore, she walked away. And while she had a sigh of relief, her boyfriend had no idea what he did wrong, and why she didn’t want to spend the weekend with him anymore. With a little honest communication, they were able increase intimacy and compromise on Sunday activities. A quick fix to a long-standing problem.

What would have happened if it went the other way. Let’s say they broke up and she did not address this issue and speak up for herself in the next relationship. There’s a good chance that I would see her again. But getting back to my current strong independent client when asked about taking some time for herself. She said she didn’t know how to reflect about the issues she was having. I said it’s not about reflecting. It’s about discovering who you are in the absence of others. When we are comfortable with ourselves, we can be comfortable with others. Truly comfortable. It’s one thing to compromise in a relationship. It is something completely different to compromise yourself.

Take time to find your voice. Learn how to use. Compromise is an integral part of every relationship. However, you cannot compromise if you haven’t voiced your opinion. And you will never know your opinion, unless you know your authentic self.