What are our “deal breakers” in relationships?
You know, that black list of bad habits and unfortunate personality traits which we have zero tolerance for: Verbal abuse? Name-which-drug addiction? Ex-porn star? Bad breath?
I know I have my “I will never be in a relationship with you once I get one whiff of this behavior” list. Don’t get me started, once I get going, my mind can run on and on about what I don’t want in a relationship. Why? Because I was hurt in the past and vowed I would never deal with that bullsh*t from anyone ever again. Is this zero tolerance attitude healthy for those of us on the path of personal growth and spiritual transformation?
Recently I’ve had second thoughts on my “deal breakers.”
I dated a man a few years ago, who in many ways was a long-term keeper, but there was one thing that made me walk away: he was an alcoholic. When I spent the night over at his place, for some odd reason I would wake up craving a beer (or three!) for breakfast. What the f**k?
He would get sloppy drunk every night which made him a crappy lover and undesirable mate. It was a crucial, put-my-foot down deal breaker, so I left. I told myself “I can’t deal with alcoholics” because I had problems with the bottle myself in my far-distant past. But was I making excuses and avoiding my own dirty laundry by projecting the problem onto my potential lover?
I came to realize that the real issue with this was that I have a strongly addictive personality and can easily be swayed back to the dark side when I am around other addicts.
I never had the guts to tell him that was the reason why, or to ask him to stop drinking and face his problem. It triggered me, so I chickened out and bolted, instead of facing the real issue at hand. A year later I witnessed him celebrating his first anniversary with the woman he met immediately after me. They are madly in love.
Most importantly, I’ve noticed that he’s not drunk anymore. Did he clean up? That was all I needed from him to make it work. Now he’s super desirable, but I threw away my chance because I was too caught up on my “deal breaker.” I am not saying you should be a push-over, or put yourself in an abusive situation in order to be “spiritually advanced.” I still have certain deal breakers that are non-negotiable, such as verbal or physical abuse.
A heated argument is manageable once in a while, but cussing me out on a daily basis is a no-go. Raise your hand at me? I’m out the door and never looking back.
Yet, sometimes we should rethink our deal breakers if they have potential to help up grow.
Here are a few questions for ourselves, my fellow spiritual revolutionaries:
1. What are our “deal breakers” and why are we so hard-core about them? (Hint: There is probably an old “poor me” story attached to it. How were we wounded in the past? Where are we playing the role of the victim? Look within so we can change these behaviors in ourselves).
2. What “deal breaker” are we most afraid of? What is the worst thing that could happen? Our deal breakers are a mirror to our own inner shadow and the things we fear the most. What are these aversions teaching us about ourselves? What would happen if we actually faced our worst fear? Maybe there is more work to do.
3. Are we willing to look within and confront our own issues that are triggered by these deal breakers? Personal growth happens when we push past our edges. If we want to grow spiritually through intimate relationships, here is our chance to do the inner work and face our demons.
Before we run away, we need to look within first.
Have we ever had someone walk away from us when their deal breaker was actually negotiable in our eyes? These love lessons are often hardest to learn when our lover breaks up with us. How did it feel when someone left because of their non-negotiable deal-breaker? Were they pointing out places within ourselves that needed to transform, or were they acting out of their own fears and pushing us away? Where does forgiveness play out here? And second chances? Once we move past the romantic high of a new relationship, the real work begins when we face each other’s inner crap.
Relationships are about navigating the push and pull when conflicts arise. What would love do? How does radical forgiveness play into spiritual evolution? Maybe we are all being a bit too hard on ourselves when the opportunity to love, transform and heal is all around us. ~
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Bronwyn Petry / Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photo: Alin Florin at Pixoto