The Single Biggest Cause of Relationship Failure
Feeling satisfied and happy in an intimate relationship is not about trying harder.
It’s not about being smarter or knowing more.
It’s not about learning the right thing to say or do.
It is about letting go.
It is about controlling less.
It is about undoing.
To be successful — happily growing and changing, self-expressive, loving to yourself and others — unlearn what you learned growing up that doesn’t work and was never “you” in the first place.
This can be a tall order, because it’s the old fish in water problem. You know — a fish doesn’t know that he’s in water because it’s just there all the time.
What doesn’t work may not seem so obvious to us ’cause we think that it’s just the way things are. But I’m sure you’ve noticed that what’s “just the way it is” for you isn’t necessarily true for the person next to you. Each human has a unique set of lenses through which he or she sees and experiences the world.
And by the way, you developed those lenses thanks to the generous folks who raised you, who were doing their very best, yes they were! But since then, you’ve sailed away from home, and it’s up to you to consciously take the helm. You’re the explorer now, spyglass raised as you look out over the horizon, totally in charge of your adventures.
Relationships fail because we’re hanging on for dear life to what we’re not.
Start by letting go of the ropes, the oars, the chandeliers.
No jumping, climbing, paddling, or swinging necessary.
Begin by being more simple. In an interaction with your partner, stand still enough to see what you really want to express. Say what you mean. Don’t embellish and don’t cloak. Let your words and your feelings stand. You are legitimate. You’re beautiful. You have bloomed. So be the bloom. Gradually, as you stand still in the simplicity, you’ll express more of who you are, and not as much of what you were taught.
Be quiet enough and simple enough to notice your truth and speak it. Let it radiate from you. People will get it. And most importantly, you’ll get it.
(By the way, it is not unusual for a client who is 20 something — or 34, or 54 or 64 to not know who they came here to be. It’s OK. You’re not alone. In fact, you’re in good company.)
So how do you find yourself? Your true preferences? How do you find what you love and are passionate about? What makes life worth it?
The bottom line is: Don’t try so hard. Flowers don’t try. They grow and bloom, offering their beauty as an integral part of the garden landscape.
Don’t try so hard to fit in. What would happen if you didn’t? What would you say yes to? What would you say no to?
If you weren’t trying so hard to get attention or recognition, get ahead or make something of yourself (like that’s necessary), create a legacy (for heaven’s sake), or seek approval or be liked, what would you do naturally? Would you work as hard, or would you let yourself enjoy life more?
When communicating your needs and wants, what if you didn’t explain, defend or justify? What if you left strategy and manipulation at the doorstep? It never works in the long run, anyway. For proof, watch any romantic comedy. When the lying, avoiding and pretending stop, things get resolved and the movie is over.
No need to stand on one leg or do cartwheels, making it more difficult for others to notice what you’re really saying.
Don’t couch your words.
Stand still in your knowing and speak directly.
Trust that you can be heard. Have faith in your listeners. Let them feel their feelings and experience their responses to what you say. You needn’t rescue them from what they are feeling and thinking. They will find a way on their own.
You don’t have to be perfect to get started being your truth, living your truth, or speaking your truth. Give yourself room to learn as you go. If something doesn’t work say, “I did my best. What can I learn from this?”
It’s OK to fall down and get up. It’s OK to be blind and then see the light.
(You know they write some really lovely songs about these things…)
It’s all good.
Do you feel embarrassed or apologetic when things don’t work?
If we don’t know our lines, or try something that turns out to be a crash-and-burn, we sometimes shrink in shame or embarrassment…
(especially subtly, privately, in our minds)
…or go hide under a rock until we recover.
Others may not have thought a second thing about it, or even noticed but we judged ourselves enough to hide or shut down.
Be easier on yourself. Despite what your 6th grade teacher may have expected, it’s OK not to know the answer to her question. It’s her question — who says it’s your question, an important question in your life or that it warrants your valuable attention?
And the jelly on top? The frosting on the cake? It’s even OK not to know in front of others.
It’s also perfectly fine to change your mind. We make way too much of the idea of reputation, or being consistent, or looking good and having everything all wrapped up in a pretty bow 24-7.
Good grief. That’s way too much pressure. It’s unnatural. Go ahead. Get muddy. Go off road. Take a new route and see what happens. It will be worth it — you will make sure of that!
It’s high time to get over ourselves enough to try what we really want to try.
Do your best to pay less attention to what other people apparently think about you. I say this often (to remember it for myself!) but it cannot be said often enough. If your partner finds out who you really are, will s/he stay? I don’t know.
But if your partner leaves, if your job disappears, even if the unthinkable happens — it is always, always, always (eventually) a good thing. It’s the Universe helping you. This I know for sure.
And as Polonius said to his son Laertes in Hamlet,
“This above all: to thine own self be true.”