I am so excited to launch into answering questions we have been receiving via email and Facebook so that you can understand how to Break Free from your Romantic Rut and find partnership, love of self and a partner, as well as peace and confidence!
For those of you who are new to Dating With Dignity, let me give you a brief orientation on our philosophy regarding how to be in a successful relationship.
One of the first steps I believe you must take to being truly “ready” to be in a healthy, interdependent relationship (I’m talking about emotionally ready, not just ready in your intellect, because your biological clock is ticking, your parents are “worried” about you, or your kids are finally more independent) is to take a deep look at what your typical dating and relationship patterns may be. It’s not that we want to dig into the past, therapy style, but more importantly for this work, simply be brave enough to recognize the following:
1. What are my typical dating patterns (who do I usually attract, how do I “feel” in relationship, how do my relationships end?)
2. What are the beliefs I have about relationship, my self, love, commitment, and men. Do these beliefs limit me? Do I have assumptions that those things that have happened in my past (e.g., I was left, cheated on, hurt, burned, objectified etc) will happen in the future?
3. Am I willing to look at how these beliefs have held me hostage, and am I ready to do the work necessary to move through them so that I can ultimately attract a partner who loves me not only in word, but via his actions OVER TIME?
Let’s use one of the brave questions I received recently as an example:
“I’m 59 and have been dating a guy for 18 months. He has been married three times and he’s scared to death. It’s like we were made for each other. H e does exhibit signs of what I know is true…that he is the child of an alcoholic parent…so he enjoys his alone time. (I mean he goes into a cave like setting when he needs to be alone.) What can I do to help him? Should I join Alanon just to learn? We’re in love and we have no doubts about that, but when he does this I FEEL all alone.” — C
Here we go…
1. “C” can first look at her dating patterns. Does she typically attract men who are emotionally unavailable? If so, why? Perhaps she gets validation and feels self worth when she can take care of her partner, be a “helper” or fixer. Or, perhaps she is attracted to men with whom she has felt like her needs are not important, and in her effort to be supportive, she neglects her needs.
2. What are “C’s” beliefs around relationship? Does she believe that if a man needs to be alone as part of his self care it indicates that he is rejecting of her? Does she take things personally? Does she see things in “black and white?” Or, perhaps she believes that it is her job to “fix” things to make sure a relationship holds together. Does she believe that the success of a relationship is her “job?” “C” can also look at past relationships to see if there have been other men in her life that have had acute childhood trauma? How did those turn out? Does she believe there are patterns that may repeat and as a result she is feeling a great deal of fear?
3. Now, let’s get into the nitty gritty! (For the purpose of this example, I will take the liberty to make some assumptions on “C’s” stuff to get to a possible solution.) It is clear that whenever her partner goes into a “cave,” it triggers her “stuff.” She seems to take it as a rejection. In feeling rejected, it may cause her to go into a comfortable place (it’s comfortable even though she doesn’t like being there) in which she is filled with self-doubt, feeling “at fault” or not worthy. It may make her feel like she has failed because her love and support aren’t enough to make her partner feel better. As this is clearly her “stuff,” it becomes important for her to get support and understand why these limiting beliefs, her lack of self worth, and fear are preventing her from utilizing a technique I call “Detached Involvement,” that is having the powerful ability to be involved and loving, but not taking on responsibility for the feelings and well being of another person. I believe that seeking support in Al-Anon is a brilliant idea, as long as her intention is not necessarily to merely “understand” her partner, but to begin doing her own work in this area.
Relationships and dating provide excellent mirrors for us to see where we are triggered. When we are alone (even though we don’t “want” to be alone, and feel ready for relationship) we don’t have to see the emotional warts and moles that are exposed when we are forced to respond and communicate with another person. We simply can shut down, go in our room and escape via television, the internet or a nice glass of wine. “C” has a lovely opportunity to begin to look into her “stuff,” and learn how to support not only her partner in his journey, but support herself as well. And, that is a definite high energy “win-win” results!
During our fall course, Breaking Free of Your Romantic Rut, you will learn to identify these patterns and do the work necessary to move past the rut into freedom, confidence and the ability to date with intention and dignity. The result? You will get to experience a loving relationship in which your needs are met, you feel safe and appreciated so that you can give love from the very bottom of your heart, and feel increased levels of joy, happiness and peace. Join us, it will be game-changing. Class begins September 30, 2010.