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Cindy Briolotta, President
Copyright 2006 by PartnersInLife.org All rights reserved.
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Conscious Dating Success
Story of the Year Contest
This column answers questions submitted by our readers. Submit your questions to Linda@relationshipcoachinginstitute.com who will forward them to our coaches all over the world. Each issue, we'll publish a few answers from our RCI coaches.
I have been in a relationship for the past eight years. We’ve been living
together for 4 years. I feel like I really love this person, but he says he
doesn't love me the way I love him. We’ve just separated. We got to the
point where we were not spending much time together--just eating and sleeping.
Is there anything I can do to get him back? Will coaching or counseling help
if we’re not married?
Sandra responds …
I’m sorry to say the short answer to your question is that there’s nothing you can do to get him back. You have no control over another person; the only person you have control over is yourself. As to the other question, coaching or counseling certainly will help, but only if both partners enter into it whole-heartedly.
Does that mean there is no hope for your future? Not at all. However, you say he doesn’t love you as you love him (as you deserve to be loved) and that your life together had devolved into just eating and sleeping together. How satisfying could it be for you to continue in such a relationship?
Look at this as the perfect opportunity to explore your own depths, to discover what your ideal life would look like—even without a partner. Find your passion so that you can live as a successful single—a life brimming with joy and delight, partner or not. When you can do this, then you’re in a perfect position to attract into your life a partner who is worthy of you.
Since you seem to be open to coaching, I encourage you to hire a coach and begin exploring. This will help you to clarify your bottom-line requirements in a partner, as well as your needs and wants – what you need to have as part of a satisfying relationship for you. You deserve a deeply committed partner and a passionate relationship; there’s no reason for you to settle for less.
Jeff responds …
The problem is that you’ve had a committed attitude, whereas he hasn’t -- by virtue of his statement that he doesn’t love you the way you love him. That’s guy talk for, “I’m not committed to you and this relationship."
You might want to look at this separation as being your release to go and
find someone who will love you in the same way you love him. Remember, it only
takes meeting one right person.
Ken responds ….
Your relationship sounds no different from many marriages. Something shifts in the relationship and the couple does not have the tools to address it. Slowly they drift apart and develop a "parallel marriage" or even an "invisible divorce." They live as you have been -- eating, sleeping and spending little time together.
Your question is whether you can do anything to get your partner back. However, he says he doesn’t love you the way you love him. The simple answer to your question is that there is nothing you can do to "get him back" unless he wants to return.
If he has emotionally left the relationship and no longer wishes to be in a relationship with you, it’s best you grieve the end of the relationship and move on. I also urge you to ask yourself why you would want to be in a relationship with a man who apparently does not want to be in a relationship with you.
If both of you are still connected emotionally and want to save the relationship, coaching or counseling could certainly help. However, it will only help if you’re both willing to "get into the canoe" together and work to nurture the relationship. It may be that your partner has an unrealistic view of what love really is. It may be that he simply has moved to a different place in his life. Whatever the reason, I urge you to believe in yourself enough to let go and move on if he is not committed.
Julie responds …
I'm sorry to hear about your long-term relationship ending. I understand you
want to re-establish the relationship; however, I would encourage you to take
a serious break.
Mary responds …
By Randy Hurlburt
This is a story of an all-too-common dating situation. However, the solution is not at all common and can’t be explained by the simple rules of dating found in most relationship books.
Henry and Yvonne (not their real names) met online. After a few email conversations, they got together for coffee. They hit it off and were soon dating. According to Henry, they were head-over-heels in love, and after six months, they were engaged.
Then things started to unravel and Yvonne seemed to grow more distant. Henry wanted to make things better, Yvonne wasn’t sure. However, the thought of breaking up with Henry filled her with dread. Henry had always treated her well, though sometimes it seemed like he wanted more than she could give.
After a year, they broke up, but a month later they were talking again. He wanted to feel love like it had been before, and she didn’t want to lose the best thing she’d ever had. Still, she wasn’t sure.
What Does this Mean?
One could say that their growing apart was due to infatuation wearing off, denial and guilt pushing Yvonne into accepting the engagement, and then loneliness bringing them back together after the breakup.
This assessment, however, is based on one significant false premise. It assumes that “in-love” and “not-in-love” are black and white concepts, and that infatuation, if it fades, means ”not-in-love.” The truth lies somewhere in between, and it’s necessary to deal with this “shades-of-gray” complexity if one wants to be successful in life and love.
The Role of Romantic Chemistry
In my opinion Henry and Yvonne both felt very high romantic chemistry at the start, but once infatuation wore off, her true level fell to “high,” while his remained “very high.” If her feelings of romantic chemistry had fallen to “medium” or less, then one could say that she had fallen out of love. However, her chemistry remained “high,” although not as high as Henry’s. This caused her to feel ambivalent.
Maybe she can find someone where the chemistry is stronger, but maybe she can’t, or at least not with someone who treats her as well as Henry does. Therefore, she is stuck. She doesn’t know whether to proceed with or without him. She doesn’t want to give him false hope but she doesn’t want to lose him either. She doesn’t know what to do. This drives him crazy and he doesn’t know what to do, either.
Her ambivalence fuels his insecurity, which in turn causes him to work harder at the relationship, which in turn causes her to feel more confined and more like leaving. It creates a vicious circle.
This, or a variation of it, seems a common occurrence, hence the title of this article “The Prevalence of Ambivalence.”
The Solution to Romantic Ambivalence
So what’s the solution? First, there must be enough emotional maturity to be able to recognize the problem and to work on it constructively. In this example, Henry’s emotional maturity was a little higher than Yvonne’s because he was trying to address it directly while Yvonne wavered.
The partner who feels a higher level of chemistry (Henry) must patiently allow time for the ambivalent partner (Yvonne) to sort out his or her life goals in order to decide how, or if, this relationship fits for them. This can be quite difficult.
Henry needs to focus on his own personal growth to be able to handle the situation. Yvonne will probably need to date other people as a part of her decision process. Henry will also need to date other people, but for different reasons – such as his own emotional health and self-protection. No one should date another out of spite or revenge or to make the other person jealous.
An important part of the solution is to seek support from someone who understands this situation. Friends will often provide simplistic solutions or viewpoints like, “forget her,” or “move on.”
Actually, this is an ideal opportunity for Henry and Yvonne to seek coaching or counseling, both individually or as a couple. This usually means gaining new knowledge about how relationships work. It is also important to become skillful in applying this new knowledge!
This common dating issue does not need to be a problem, but rather it can be used as an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and our relationships.
Copyright © Randy Hurlburt. All rights reserved.
Randy Hurlburt is President of Conscious Dating San Diego and author of Love Is Not A Game (But You Should Know the Odds), a book about how to measure chemistry and maturity in relationships and how to deal with the issues that arise from ambivalence.
by Linda Marshall, M. Div.
We often think it’s the other person’s behavior that causes our unhappiness and confusion. However, the truth is that it is our thoughts about the other person’s behavior that causes these feelings. The meaning you give to the behavior, your interpretations, judgments, and beliefs, cause your unhappiness and misery. Let’s take a look:
Behavior: Your love interest used to spend every evening with you and now spends two evenings a week.
Byron Katie, author of Loving What Is, suggests that we question the truth of our meanings and become aware of our reactions to our meanings. She encourages us to go through a process of letting go of our meanings while searching for alternative meanings. At the same time, she recommends we imagine what our life would be like without the meaning we are assigning to the behavior.
She also suggests that we turn our meaning around and see how it applies to ourselves. For instance, it could be that you are the one who is falling out of love and who wants out of the relationship. Perhaps it could be that you have a pattern of taking away your own peace of mind by “awfulizing” situations.
You might find that you have unrealistic expectations of relationships—expecting that your love interest will want to spend every moment with you. You may come to see that a person can still love you and want or need to spend time in other ways.
Making a Request
Here is a communication skill you can use that will help break the thought patterns that keep you stuck in unhappiness and misery. By communicating our needs through making a request, we save the other person from needing to be a mind-reader. Requesting is an effort to proactively improve the relationship and can help the loving energy flow between you and your loved one once again.
Fact: You used to spend every evening with me and now we spend two evenings a week together.
Thought: You don’t love me anymore and want out of this relationship.
Feelings: Scared, anxious, sad, confused, unhappy, hurt, distrustful, angry, frustrated.
Need: I need to know that you still love me and want to continue our relationship.
Request: I need us to talk about the time we spend together and come to an agreement about how much time we will devote to being together and how we will spend that time. I would like us to develop a plan that works for both of us when we are together this Friday evening.
Remember that a request and not a demand. The other person doesn't have to honor your request.
Your Thoughts are Rarely Accurate
I have taught this communication skill to many people who have extremely damaged relationships, and they have been surprised by the meanings they give to the other's behavior and how that has impacted their own feelings and behavior.
Those who took this approach seriously, report improved relationships in a very short period of time, even if they didn't follow the five steps exactly as presented. What most people discover is that their thoughts are rarely accurate. When they share thoughts that the other person doesn't care or something similar, the other person is amazed because that is usually the furthest thing from their mind.
Take a chance and check out the thoughts you are having with the other person. Clear the air. If you are wrong, you'll save yourself a lot of misery and you can pat yourself on the back for handling the situation in an adult fashion. If you are right, you can gain strength by getting support to deal with the reality. Even if the reality is not what you wanted, the truth will set you free. Best wishes!
Copyright © Linda Marshall. All rights reserved.
PartnersinLife.org, is a resource for couples offered by Relationship Coaching Institute, a worldwide relationship coaching organization dedicated to helping singles 'find the love of your life AND the life that you love'; to helping new couples 'make a wise choice in a life partner'; and to helping any couple 'fine tune and keep their relationship healthy and fulfilling.'
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Linda Marshall, M.Div. | Director of Couples Programs Linda@relationshipcoachinginstitute.com
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