"Attraction may spark interest, but a relationship is built on a bond that takes time to form." -James Bauer
Breakups hurt, there's no denying that. No matter who called it quits, it's likely not easy for either party involved. And, if you're like me and stay in an unhealthy relationship until an emotional boil-over results in a messy sayonara, I suggest watching this short video on 8 Relationship Red Flags We Need to Stop Overlooking.
Also ask yourself if you're creating your own nightmare in your relationships.
The flow and fluidity of a loving relationship involves embracing where someone is on their current path and loving them through it.
Try to love not just the bits and pieces of your partner you feel are attractive or easy to love, but everything they are in those moments. The tears. The pain. The laughter. The silliness and wet kisses. The tenderness. Even the anger and the meltdowns. The wholeness of them. Loving them through the chaos and the passion and the fear, because once you brave the storm, the clearing comes. The passage of time slows, patience and presence and knowing all hang in the air like wet heat. Trust develops. We detox. Together.
“Your perception of me is a reflection of you. My reaction to you is an awareness of me.”
The significance of this concept is something that moves me forward. It enables me to always love those who’ve moved into, through, and out of my life... whether it's in short bursts, or in long, graceful movements, or in stumbles and sighs. It allows me to understand that what you may see in me as a flaw, is a projection of you. And vice versa.
When a relationship is one built on a foundation of both support and challenge, you find love. A love that stays.
“Who knows how to make love stay?
1. Tell love you are going to Junior's Deli on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn to pick up a cheesecake, and if loves stays, it can have half. It will stay.
2. Tell love you want a momento of it and obtain a lock of its hair. Burn the hair in a dime-store incense burner with yin/yang symbols on three sides. Face southwest. Talk fast over the burning hair in a convincingly exotic language. Remove the ashes of the burnt hair and use them to paint a moustache on your face. Find love. Tell it you are someone new. It will stay.
3. Wake love up in the middle of the night. Tell it the world is on fire. Dash to the bedroom window and pee out of it. Casually return to bed and assure love that everything is going to be all right. Fall asleep. Love will be there in the morning.”
― Tom Robbins,
Sometimes we lose partners because we and/or they simply aren't ready for love, or perhaps we have different versions of love. Timing can be off even with the most comfortable connections. One moment you're laughing hysterically together, and the next you're shutting the door behind you for the last time. Life is weird like that. It can be big time sucky stuff.
So, when necessary, we should know when to call it quits. There are countless reasons for break-ups. For example, your partner makes you feel bad about yourself or like you're not good enough. Or maybe you're a highly sensitive person and you're with someone with an insecure attachment style and when you need support, they push you away instead of pulling you close. Or maybe you disagree on the big things, like parenting, politics, or longterm goals. Or sometimes the issue is you just don't have time for a relationship. I've been there. Most hustlers in our late-twenties/early-thirties have been.
Progress is a steamroller. Have high standards. Hold each other accountable.
Healthy partners will listen, truly listen, and work through imbalances to create harmony within their interconnected lives. Unhealthy partners will present ultimatums or dismiss you completely. This is a sign that you're incompatible. And that's ok. Move on from it. Let go. Acceptance isn't always easy, do it anyway. And don't forget to nourish yourself.
Deep nourishment, for me, is as easy as a hot cup of black coffee in the morning while I write my to-do list. Really simple things nourish me... like Chinese take-out and a good podcast and burning incense and Michael Nau's new album. Like admiring the freckles on my sleeping daughter's face. Like impulsively baking a hundred cookies and a few loaves of bread and handing them out to everyone I love. And even building and hiding in a blanket fort and crying over lost love for an entire weekend. Whatever nourishes you, do it.
Solid boundaries are just as important as nourishment. My rigidity in boundary-maintaining has ended decent relationships, ironically. I am at fault for as many endings as I am beginnings. But I know who I am and what I need from a partner and when those things aren't aligned in love, conflict happens. My twenties were spent giving and giving until depletion. I no longer do that.
It has taken me a long time to get to where I am comfortable in my worthiness of love, in my vulnerability and how I express my deepest needs. Validation in relationship is so important, and we have the ability to support and encourage each other, so why criticize? Why allow meanness to sabotage? Don't. Don't allow it. Revisit your boundaries often. Check in with yourself and your partner. Set new boundaries if necessary. Stick to them.
We are defined by our deeper qualities... our compassion, our empathy, our desire for happiness, stability, love, and family... and those things will eventually help us eradicate bad habits and stay true to our highest potential. Sometimes we slip. I know I do. And if your partner does, gently remind them you're in this together.
Also as a reminder, try not to be too hard on yourself if old traumas re-surface when you feel triggered, when you feel invalidated, when you feel misunderstood or unheard. Hearing your partner say "this isn't working" can sometimes be your greatest medicine; it can move you out of that relationship and into one where you feel heard and valued, where patience is a cornerstone.
Also, sometimes even the most grounded of us can become a whirlwind of rage at times. Just know how to apologize and mean it. Know how to try harder next time. If there is no next time, that's ok too.
That being said, it is our duty to hold space for each other as we ride through tumultuous healing crises, especially in partnership. But be sure your time and energy is being respected in return. This is the importance of honoring your boundaries. Be confident in them, you set them for a reason.
Many times we just have to accept that someone cannot love us the way we need to be loved. For example, not surprisingly, many of us need a partner who is highly emotionally intelligent and empathetic (know the difference between empathy and sympathy, because not many do).
Since promising myself I wouldn't compromise on my needs, I still somehow attracted people who needed continuous softness from me, who wanted a wallflower, a perfectly poised and polished version of their ideal partner. Not only is being a perfect partner unrealistic for us as imperfect humans, but if that's what someone is expecting of you...they have an incredibly immature view of love.
Identify your unique needs. For example, as an (extroverted) introvert, I need solitude and time to recharge. Otherwise, I'm highly emotionally reactive. It's not fun for anyone. Know yourself. Notice your patterns.
Between stimulus and response there is a space.
In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
-Viktor E. Frankl
I look at myself in the mirror now and say I love you and I smile and I see the warmth and the depth in my eyes. It's the comfort only self-love can provide. Only we know the immense obstacles we’ve overcome and only we can validate ourselves fully.
A work in progress is sometimes more beautiful than the finished piece, but not everyone can appreciate that. And that's a damn shame.
What I’ve learned this year is that your best, most precious qualities, the most human parts of you, are not what define your relationship. Your history together is what defines your relationship. You can be the most wonderful and magical and exquisite human with a partner who might not see past surface level hiccups. For some reason, one or both of you chooses not to focus on the magic, you choose to find faults and flaws; you might jokingly poke at each other until your beauty and divinity is overwhelmed by defensiveness. I think we have all been guilty of this. We can rise above those things, though. It just takes time. It takes patience and dedication. Be kind to yourself, and vow to be authentic. Even if that means rejection.
Instead of trying to salvage a relationship with someone who may not have the patience and emotional intelligence to allow you to take time to address the traumas you are actively working to overcome, walk away with integrity intact. You deserve to heal in your own time, don't rush. You can't rush healing.
Equally important, your partner may just see where you are on your path as a hindrance to living their own life fully, it may impede on their ability to grow too. Let them leave if they must. We should always respect that. Respect their process, it is unique to them.
And on that note, it's especially hard loving someone who does not see fault in themselves. Someone who expects you to change rapidly, but does not address their own insecurities. Denial is worrisome. It leaves no space for growth. If your partner always finds fault in you, but never turns to look inward, that can be a major sign to end the relationship. For example, if you're told you're being "crazy" yet they refuse to look at how their behavior is crossing your healthy boundaries and you're simply sticking up for yourself, this is a sign conflict resolution will be impossible with this person (know the hallmark signs of narcissistic abuse).
It's not hard to see ourselves mirrored in them, in their behaviors they cannot see, in their own shadows they've yet to confront. As an act of love, accept that sometimes paths just cannot cross for more than a few weeks or a few months or a few years.
Major lessons can be learned from intense, serendipitous connections. Karmic debts paid, or left unpaid, or new debts acquired... depending on how evolved each of you were during your time together. Send them love, wish them well, cut the cord. Move into the next phase of your expansion. Continuously. Consistently. Persistently.
And lastly...stay up. You are beautiful, and wonderful, and real. Love yourself deeply, unconditionally; bring that awareness into your life every day. You deserve it. You deserve divine, exquisite love, not one that triggers and dismisses. The kind of love that brings you to your knees with relief and fills you with bliss, finally feeling stable, centered, heard. A love that allows you to lick your wounds, not scolds you impatiently simply for having wounds. A love that lets you bellow and whimper and weep through your processes while you explore the deepest parts of yourself, so that you can make way for your best self. Have the strength to let go of those who do not see this potential in you, or do not have the patience to hold space for you while you're doing the work.
Focus. Stay up. Supportive, and emotionally-mature humans will enter your life. Trust this. You'll be ok. You'll be more than ok.