#Relationships

How To Find A Relationship That Will Last

When we experience disappointment in any relationship, especially a romantic one, it is extremely tempting to slip into the blame game, focusing on everything the other person said or did wrong. When I recently went through a breakup, I was given a lot of support from friends who were subscribed to the Kate’s ex is a jerk mentality.

But I found that judging, criticizing, and blaming my ex-boyfriend felt just as debilitating as the breakup itself. Getting over my heartache wasn’t about convincing myself I was better off without that “jerk” but rather focusing on where I got it wrong and could improve. Even if the demises of our relationships are 90 percent the other person’s fault, we still have to look at our 10 percent.

Looking forward into the future, this truth speaks to a key shift we need to make in the way we view our relationships.

Instead of making a laundry list of traits we want in an ideal mate, what if we spent our time and energy figuring out who we want to be in a relationship?

Doesn’t that feel so much more empowering? After all, our thoughts, feelings, and actions are the only things we can control. When we practice being the people we want to be, the ideal partner will show up, and this time, we will be more ready to share and receive a deeply nourishing, lasting love. We will be more aware of our triggers and how to better manage our emotions, and instead of focusing on what we can get, we will be generous with what we can give. We won’t settle or expect someone to “complete” us as our core belief system is, “I am complete.”

When we begin to look at our relationships as adventuresome assignments for ultimate personal development and soul growth, our desperate need to try to control them will shift. Instead of obsessing over why someone wasn’t able to love us exactly as we wanted, we will understand we were brought together to learn from one another.

Sure, sometimes you really were mistreated in your last relationship. Many other times, the lesson is actually: “I haven’t done the inner work required to allow the relationship to flourish.”

From a spiritual perspective, if we can learn not to attack or defend and instead practice forgiveness and take responsibility for our wounds (which appear as character defects we are tempted to judge in ourselves and others), then we can heal these wounds, release the painful feelings associated with them, and show up for ourselves and others as happy, healthy partners.

Here are some of the practices I use on a daily basis to make sure my focus in my relationships, past and present, is less about assessing how good the other person is or was and more about how I’m showing up:

1. Give your partner unconditional acceptance.

What I am about to say is one of the biggest challenges we face as human beings: Forgive and accept people—in this case, your mate—exactly as he or she is. If you don’t like a certain behavior, try changing your response to that behavior rather than trying to change your partner. Accepting a person for who they are sets us free—we don’t feel the need to try to control them. Instead we can focus on controlling our emotions and decide whether to stay in or leave the relationship.

2. Surrender your grievances and attachments to anyone who has done you wrong.

Getting angry at someone for not wanting to be with us is disempowering and takes us out of our dignity. In fact, it’s self-sabotaging to lash out, show our disapproval of, and condemn the other person for leaving—because when we attack another, we are also attacking ourselves. On a spiritual level, we are all connected. When we judge, blame, or condemn another, we may feel good for a few minutes, but either they will attack us back or, even if they don’t, we will feel as though they did due to our own guilt. This is a universal law of cause and effect: What we give, we must get back. That’s why it feels so good to give a gift or compliment and make someone smile or laugh.

It’s easy to accept people who want us, but the challenge is to accept people who do not want us. The goal is to get to a place where we love people whether they want us or not.

Moreover, approving people for who they are and their decision not to be with us creates the space for us to attract the right person.

3. Practice more forgiveness, which is the answer to everything.

When someone hurts our feelings, and we don’t feel the need to cause any emotional harm back, we pass the test. When we are willing to take 100 percent responsibility for our lives (even though it can be challenging), we grow up faster and become emotionally stronger.

Instead of lashing out against people who’ve hurt us, try to take a deep breath and see it as an opportunity to heal an old wound and grow. With practice, you will begin to become less and less reactive and feel a greater sense of peace and freedom. Sit in meditation with the awareness that nothing changes until first it is accepted exactly as it is.

The point here isn’t to accept people’s mistreatment of us—rather, the point is to not allow their mistreatment to get the best of our emotions. We can respond to a negative situation appropriately by leaving when needed, but the ability to accept and forgive is what will ultimately set us free from those hurtful emotions that came from it.

4. Show up fully.

Instead of asking, “Is this person really good enough for me?” Ask yourself, “Am I really showing up for this person and creating a safe space for their transformation and enlightenment?”

That’s a big difference!

In creating the space for another’s transformation, we allow them to be who they were not yesterday—we give them the freedom to get it right. As long as your partner is willing to work on themselves, the relationship can move forward.

Of course, if your partner demonstrates they aren’t willing to grow or aren’t taking the necessary steps to actualize that growth, it may be time to move on. We can’t force anyone to change; they must choose to evolve of their own free will.

In the meantime while they’re sorting out themselves, pray for their happiness every day. Remind them how wonderful they are. Give support and be generous with your time, compliments, undivided attention, and so forth. Resist the temptation to project onto another that he or she is your completion and to demand that they behave a certain way. It is easy to love someone when they are doing and saying everything we want them to. The challenge is loving someone when they aren’t acting the way we want them to.

5. Take inventory of our own shortcomings and the work we still need to do.

It’s important to ask ourselves, “If the ‘ideal partner’ showed up right now, would he or she want me?”

None of us is perfect. We all have childhood wounds and heartbreaks from previous relationships. But I’ve found that our willingness and commitment to changing our thought patterns and behaviors can make us available and ready for lasting love.

6. Release expectations.

What would it feel like to stop expecting your partner to be more, better, or different?

Knowing what we want in a relationship is important, but it must be coupled with the desire to ourselves learn how to be a great or even better partner. Rather than looking for that one special person to complete you, look for ways you could love, honor, and accept yourself and others more completely.

To start envisioning what this might look like, write down all the ways you can prepare your heart, body, personality, beliefs, and home for real love—the kind of love you seek and the kind of love your future partner deserves.

Story originally published on mindbodygreen.

How To Keep Boundaries And Not Settle In Our Relationships

 

J Clynes Photography

There is nothing quite as electrifying or soul satisfying as falling in love and thinking we’ve found a partner to spend our lives with. But what happens when you start to see and feel that this man or woman is causing you more pain than joy and you are already so deeply invested?

I believe relationships are assignments. They bring up all our “stuff.” In other words, you and your significant other will both be triggered, old wounds will come up for the purpose of healing. You will both have to feel your feelings and release them in order to move forward and grow as a couple.

“Love brings up everything unlike itself for the purpose of healing.” ~A Course in Miracles

As a student of A Course in Miracles and a woman devoted to my spiritual growth, I was up for working through any difficult emotions or situations that came up. My partner was not. It wasn’t as easy as just cutting him lose immediately though. I had developed deep feelings for him, and we were in love.

I felt guilty for wanting to simply abandon him and the relationship. I truly wanted to grow with him. A friend gave my a piece of advice that really struck a cord with me. It resonated much more intimately than, “Girl, you deserve better,” and “He’s not good enough for you.”

My friend told me I was basing my decision to (at least temporarily) stay in the relationship off of my feelings and not my values. When I explained to her that I loved this man and wanted a future with him, but had some major concerns like the fact he wasn’t interested in a spiritual life at all and was unwilling to work through any emotional baggage or issues stemming from his divorce, both of which are extremely important to me.

It seemed obvious to my friend that my guy was simply not ready for a serious relationship despite telling me otherwise. His decision to lie to me on more than one occasion came up as character defects as well (things I had overlooked because I loved him). We both knew the right decision was to walk away from this relationship. So why was it so difficult and painful to end it?

I was evaluating if I should stay in the relationship based off my strong feelings for this man rather than what I value. When I wrote down what I value in a romantic partner, I realized this man did not embody many of those qualities, like supporting me emotionally, sharing my spiritual commitment to a higher power and being fully committed to me.

My friend reflected back to me what she saw. She asked me to pretend I had never met my boyfriend, and said I have this great guy for you, and I know you will find him very charming and attractive. Want me to hook you up with him?

“Sure,” I said.

My friend said, “Great! But he won’t share your values, he is spiritually passive, he will refuse to work through any of his emotional baggage and instead project his pain onto you, he will talk about his ex wife all the time, he won’t support you emotionally, he won’t celebrate your career accomplishments, well, actually he won’t respect that you work hard at all, and he will attack and criticize your feelings. But I think you will love him. So do you want to go out with him?”

Feeling repulsed, I said, “No!”

It became crystal clear I was leading with my feelings and not my values. My attachment to this man was getting in the way of what I truly desired in a life partner and was clouding my judgment. I recognized that my spiritual values would have to lead the way instead if I wanted a loving relationship that would last and be deeply fulfilling.

While at first I thought I was walking away from a great connection and love, I realized I was actually protecting and preserving love by requiring the character values that make it work. When I explained to my boyfriend that this is what I wanted and wasn’t interested in anything less, he agreed that he was not ready for this kind of relationship. I said I hope you become ready, I want that person to be you, but right now, I have to move on.

I had hopes that he would be inspired to go to counseling, get support and want to fully commit to a loving relationship with me. Turns out, he doesn’t want to work through any of his issues, and I have to respect his decision and close that door permanently. I truly wish him the best on his journey, and I’m thankful for the soul growth I experienced while dating him. I learned what I want, and more importantly, what I do not want in a committed romantic relationship.

I think it’s important that each of us look for a set of inner values in our relationships from the beginning, and if our love interest is not displaying those values, we consciously choose to not get involved and hold out for the person who embodies those cherished values. It’s even more imperative that we cultivate the characteristics that are valuable to us and keep ourselves in check as well. It’s our values that ultimately protect us.

When we lead with our values, not how we feel about someone, even when how we feel about someone is very strong, our values will lead us to the right person. Do not settle for less. Keep your boundaries. Guard your heart. Only give it to someone worth giving it to.

 

 

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