Ok, so you’ve read a few of my blogs and applied some of my advice, maybe you’ve even had a few coaching sessions with me. You’ve been out there dating and you finally meet someone special. The energy between you two is wonderful, every time you are together you find out more and more things you like about each other. Your fondness grows. You are talking constantly and start to spend every spare moment together. You progress in your feelings to what you’re pretty sure is that elusive feeling everyone wants, yes, love. Because you may have had some problems in past relationships, you immediately begin to panic, completely convinced you are going to mess this up somehow, someway. You come to me for advice.
My first suggestion: Breathe. Take a step back and don’t freak out. You can do this. You just have to have patience and not perform on auto pilot all of the things you’ve done in the past that have made relationships difficult. Here are a few tools to have at your disposal should the opportunity to share a bond with someone in a romantic relationship present itself:
- Don’t take anything personally: You may recall the book that came out more than a decade ago now called The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) by Don Miguel Ruiz (Amber-Allen Publishing, 1997). Ruiz points out that “nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality…” I know this is a tough one in romantic relationships where we allow ourselves to feel vulnerable and need someone else, but it is in exactly these relationships where this principle applies most. Most of us are working out programming that began when we were born into our family of origin, and if both ourselves and our partners learn to detach from those “knee jerk” reactions and not take our behavior personally, then we are both able to process through things and grow.
- Always remember that we are all human, and thus, imperfect: When we fall in love, we tend to place a lot of expectations on the other person, and if we are not careful, we can easily hold them responsible for our own feelings of safety, security, and well being. It may sound like a cliché at this point to mention that it is only from within that we can find those things, and to not expect them to come from another person, even our partner, but clichés are overused for a reason. When we demand such perfection from someone else, they will never fail to fall short, and we will never fail to be disappointed. Remember, everyone is nervous and worried about things going well. Everyone uses coping mechanisms learned in early life to manage everyday life. Give yourself, and others, a break, especially your partner.
- There are no rules but one: “The Golden Rule”: No where is “the golden rule,” or “treat others how you would wish to be treated,” applicable than in an interpersonal romantic relationship, especially if we think this person is “the one.” Lead by example. Do you want flowers on your birthday and just because, as Stevie Wonder would say, you want to say “I love you?” Send them to your partner. Do you like candlelight dinners with scented candles and special music playing? Put out the candles and turn on iTunes yourself. Don’t always place the romance burden on the other person. Bottom line is, you teach people how to treat you, and you start by treating others well in the first place.
Have the confidence to believe you deserve a partner who cares about you and who is able to be a true companion for many years to come. If you are reading this post, it means you are someone who wants to put as much effort into your relationship as you do all of the other areas of your life, and that means you will make some lucky person out there a wonderful partner. If you just take a step back and breathe and remember a few important points, you won’t screw it up, I promise.