“Our lives improve only when we take chances and the first and most difficult risk we can take is, to be honest with ourselves.” - Walter Anderson
I have met so many people who say they’re ready to start dating again, or ready to change the behaviors in a relationship with a specific person. As they get started they prepare their Needs, Wants and Desires (look for the workbook on this soon!) and get beautifully clear and connected on what it is they want from a relationship and what they want to experience with that person. Only to start dating and quickly throw all of their work out the window in favor of feeling wanted and desired by the other person. Making them happy quickly takes first place to fulfiling their own happiness and needs.
In the relationships I had when I started dating after a long term relationship ended, I fought this battle. I would attract men that were “perfect” then throw my list of needs out the window and ignore the little voice inside me that said “He’s not the right one, you’re ignoring what we really need. Come back!” Or would write off glaring red flags to “make it work.”
One man that I dated a few years back taught me this lesson in the biggest way. Early on in dating, we both decided that this “could be it.” He had a big spiritual focus, or so it seemed, as did I. He accepted my desire to get up at the crack of dawn to write, do yoga and loved that I wanted out of my corporate job and to start my life coaching business (or so I thought). I enjoyed his sense of humor and his passion for his work.
Then one night, we were talking about therapy, spirituality, and coaching (well before I became a coach) and he started getting defensive, started saying I didn’t understand what he was saying and that I didn’t get his past work (he had been a therapist). I tried to explain that I did I just viewed it differently, it’s part of my core beliefs (and this time they weren’t going anywhere). Finally, toward the end of the conversation, I said: “I think communication is going to be the hardest thing for us.” And I heard my intuition say “Yup! You need to be open to what’s really being said and stick to your guns.” I hated hearing that. I really didn’t want to admit that this probably wasn’t the end-all relationship. I was sick of dating and wanted to settle down.
I wanted things to be a fairy tale, I wanted communication to be easy - because I knew it could be and I knew how important communication is for me at my deepest level. Shit, what was I going to do? Well, I kept diving inward to connect to my intuition. I kept honoring myself and my needs and attempting to deeply engage with him. As I dove deeper I saw him staying in the shallower waters, his defenses kept climbing and eventually it culminated in the largest, most unproductive argument I’ve ever had with a significant other.
He literally hung up the phone on me (at this point in time he was refusing to meet in person - um hello RED FLAG). In the silence that came after he ended the call, while I was mid-sentence, I heard my intuition say “It’s done, he’s not your person, darling. Please take care of yourself now.” And that was that he tried to open communication back up but I knew it was futile to bring up the topic over and over. I wasn’t going to change who I was and he wasn’t hearing me or taking the time to truly describe what he was struggling with.
For the first time, I could see myself being deeper in a relationship and it wasn’t reciprocated. It broke my heart but it was exactly what I needed to see and experience. It’s allowed me to be here, where I’m connected to my vulnerability deeply and can honor myself and the partner I have in relationship. It was also a huge learning in listening. I learned to hear him and in my reflecting back to him is when things fell apart. I reflected back on what he said and would ask follow up questions. With every follow-up question, there was another wall of his that went up. It was not a reciprocated relationship. It made me realize how ready I was for deep connection and how I wasn’t honoring that, I was continuing to date the guys that were “easier” to date but they weren’t willing to invest time, connection and effort with me.
If you really want to be able to connect with someone deeply you need to be vulnerable enough to let something like what happened to me happen to you. To have major shifts in your relationships, you need to allow major shifts in yourself. You need to know yourself deeply to be in relationship deeply.