This is the final part of the Romantic Relationship series.
When you answer the questions, please do not just give yes/no answers. Elaborate, be specific and give examples. Remember the work is yours to do. You will only get out of it what you put into it.
Romantic Relationships – part 3
The courage to trust
There is so much in the way of our ability to have the kind of relationships we want: fear, selfishness, reservations, the belief that it will just end badly. The more we take inventory, the more clearly we see the obstacles inside ourselves that stand between what we want and us.
We want a magic formula that will make relationships okay: a year, three years, a Fifth step, a round of steps. The truth is much simpler but harder to define. Some of us are never “ready” and struggle all our lives………
There are always lessons. Experience is what we get when we don’t get what we want. There is no right or wrong way to experience love. What matters is that we allow ourselves the privilege.
Reflecting on your last or current relationship. Do you believe you have found your mate and/or what was the lesson you learned from that relationship?
What are your insecurities when it comes to romantic relationships?
Do you feel like you are enough for a successful romantic relationship?
Our relationship with ourselves determines the quality of our relationships with others. It seems so obvious, but in the moment it can slip away from us. When we’re not feeling so good about ourselves, when we are hurting, when we feel lonely and insecure, of course we want someone else to tell us we’re okay. But the better we know ourselves, the better we know our needs and what we have to give.
·oHHow do you feel about yourself?
·Do you feel lonely insecure or needy?
·Do you feel better about yourself when you have someone to tell you that you’re okay?
“It helps if at least one person in the relationship knows at least one of the people in the relationship,” a member explained, “but I’ve been a stranger to myself sometimes even when I wasn’t new. Seeing into myself honestly and accurately is something that comes and goes. I find now I can name a lot of emotions, but that doesn’t mean I know what I’m feeling at any given moment, especially when my feelings are strong. I still default to anger, depression, and resistance when what I’m really feeling is loneliness, desperation, or fear. It comes out sideways at the people nearest me. I comfort myself with the idea that I recognize it sooner than I used to—after a bad week, rather than a bad month or a breakup. But it still hasn’t gone away.” We can see the rewards of the Tenth Step when we start being able to recognize our emotions as we are having them. When we can identify our own responses we can choose to respond rather than react.
·Do you feel like you know yourself?
·Are you able to identify your feelings when your emotions are strong?
·What emotions do you default to when your feelings are strong? (E.g. anger, depression, fear, being a victim…)
·Do you come out sideways at the people closest to you when your emotions are running high?
·Do you still react instead of responding when emotions run high? Give specific examples of either.
Practicing principles in our relationship doesn’t mean being someone else, or being phony, but it can feel a little awkward at first…. Being in a relationship is a different experience when we put unity first. When we set aside our own needs and consider the good of the partnership or the family as a whole, it does not mean that we tolerate our needs going unmet or unacknowledged. We start to recognize that each of us will get what we need if both of us come to the relationship with an attitude of willingness and a belief that when we allow our unity to be a priority we can turn the results over to a power greater than ourselves.
·What principles do you practice in your relationships?
·How do you put unity first in your relationships?
·What does it look like when you set aside your needs for those of your partner, family or friends?
·How do you do that and still make sure that your needs are met?
Self-support is a spiritual principle, and learning to support our own spirits is a critical part of our development. Of course, we don’t just “go it alone.” We have the group, we have our sponsor and trusted friends, and we have a Higher Power that helps us carry on. We share our triumphs and burdens with our partner, but learn not to make them responsible for our moods or the overall quality of our lives.
·How do you support your own spirit?
·Do you make it your partner’s, friends or family responsibility?
Learning the difference between having a partner and taking a hostage—or being taken hostage—is a big step for a lot of us. “Letting go of expectations” can be a nice name for letting go of control. Allowing our partners and ourselves to experience personal autonomy means we can grow and change at our own pace, and the relationship can benefit from what each of us brings to it.
·How do you allow your partner/friend personal autonomy or are you controlling in relationships?
We might find, after some consideration, that a relationship really does need to end. But we can do it in a way that we are comfortable with, instead of acting on impulse and leaving a painful mess to clean up later. Ending a relationship doesn’t mean someone has to be wrong or bad; in fact, it can be the best thing for all involved. We can feel pressure to stay in a relationship—for social approval, the kids, complacency, or fear—even though we know it’s time to go. It is an act of courage to do what we think is right without having to create damage to justify our actions.
·Have you learned how to lovingly end a relationship? What did it look like?
Our ideas about relationships are often based in anything but reality; we want to believe that relationships somehow happen on their own, that we can step into a relationship like it is a carnival ride and it will just take us. Just as we imagined the right combinations of drugs would make everything all right, we sometimes imagine that the right combination of attributes will make a soul mate.
·What set of attributes do you believe someone has to have to make a soul mate?
·What attributes do you need to have to be someone’s soul mate?
·Do you believe anyone will have the right combination? If not will you be settling to take a partner that does not have them all?
·Do you believe it to be reality or fantasy to want a partner to have all the attributes you want them to have?
We place unrealistic expectations on others and ourselves. We fantasize and project about how things “should be.” Partnership isn’t found; it’s built. We need to show up and participate in its construction. But once we start taking care of ourselves, all kinds of intimacy are available to us.
·What are you doing to build your partnership or to build yourself to be a partner in a relationship?