5.9
March 23, 2021

Why we Struggle (& Fail) in our Romantic Relationships.

Why are we so Attached to Finding, yet Failing at Relationships?

Why is it everywhere I look I see people struggling to be in relationships?

Struggling to find, keep, and remain satisfied in relationships. Struggling to be honest with each other, to be real, to know and communicate their needs. People, so scared to be alone, rather live a lie. How did I fall into this same old trap, disguised as something new, time and time again?

Sure, I see some executing it, but I can’t help but question, are they really happy? Are they really connected? And I’m not just talking social media happy or physically connected here.  

In my times travelling and living solo, I’ve taken much time to observe, noticing so many miserable as f*ck looking couples. From those glued to their phones, not talking at dinner—or worse, those talking horribly to each other. So many couples have built-up resentment, are no longer connected, and failed to honor their truths—they’re simply filling a role.

This role we’ve been told to audition for since childhood—this role of other half. But how many in that role are truly fulfilled? How many really want to be there? How many simply stay put due to external pressure? Questions I wonder.

To be fair, there are those rare couples who truly are happy and still in love, despite real-life curveballs that have tried to throw them off, and I’m grateful to have a few solid examples of these types of relationships in my life.  

Yes, I’ll admit, it can be done. Congratulations and thank you if this is you—keep setting this much-needed example. You may proceed and read, feeling grateful for what you have, or exit now—this isn’t for you.  

But I’m talking to the majority here. How many happy, monogamous couples do you know? 

I’m begging to be proven wrong, but I think what we need to see here is just how many of us still need to learn a lot before trying to get too entangled. I see so many of us needing to learn how to truly know and honor ourselves in all ways before deciding to do the same for someone else.  

Knowing, accepting, and truly loving ourselves in all ways. Learning to speak our truth when something doesn’t feel right. Refusing to simply comply with what we are told. Questioning all we’ve been taught that perhaps conflicts with our hearts. Connecting to our hearts. Allowing it to have its say. Being able to see when we are acting from wounded child or from pattern. Being able to be compassionate when we see this in others.  

Perhaps, these are the things we need to learn before trying to merge lives with another. 

Maybe that way, when we choose to enter relationships, we will be able to be open and honest as it flows. No hidden agendas, no games, no speculation, just open freaking communication.  

Making assumptions is one of the worst things we do—especially once we’ve known someone for a while and assume we “know them.” Forgetting that, like us, they are constantly evolving—or not.

These so often false assumptions eventually break down the art of conversing and the joy of truly continuing to get to know one another. We get lazy. We make assumptions—generally more and more as we go on with someone.

How many times have you met someone you thought you “knew” from outsider opinions and limited distant interaction and then are shocked to see how far off you were? While we tend to do this with strangers, we love to do this with those we hold dear. I half-joke this is the lazy man’s way out—I could have this potentially uncomfortable conversation and ask for clarification, or just act off this assumption I created—this assumption I’m comfortable with. 

It’s certainly a practice to do—to choose the more difficult route in all relationships, especially in a world where people have become increasingly sensitive and attached to their beliefs. I’ve certainly had times when I’ve chosen what I thought was peace by holding back my truth, but peace this is not. Failing to act from this authentic place of self leads to confusion and chaos in the end because we can only hide from our truth for so long.  

And while I’m the first to admit it’s much easier to talk about communication and how important it is and blah blah blah, it’s much more difficult to apply in those moments when you are face-to-face with someone who makes you breathe a bit faster and smile a bit more.  

Ah, yes, it can be challenging to want to think or talk about anything beyond your temporary bubble of bliss. Sometimes, you just want to enjoy the moment of meeting someone you feel drawn to, and that’s okay. Some of my favorite moments in la-la land have been my greatest experiences and/or lessons.  

But this is where I believe many of us go wrong.

If we could only open those lines of real communication as early as we get physical, before we get wrapped up in all those brain-altering chemicals that flow once we get entangled. If only we could be 100 percent real and honor ourselves, I think we’d have a better shot, or at the very least, waste way less time and energy. 

Now, of course, I’m no expert, as I sit here typing on my current four-month and counting hiatus from dating. But I can say that I am in a place where I feel just how good it is to be with me and only me, a place where I can speak to those quite possibly struggling to hold on to something toxic like I have before.  

Since reentering the game some years ago, I’ve observed enough in myself and the world around me to know when I don’t like the same result I keep getting, perhaps it’s time to pause and recalibrate. And sometimes, in this pause, we need to get clear about what it is we really want. Get to know ourselves. What is it we are searching for? 

While I’ve questioned the rationality of marriage and monogamy for years, I’ve also been able to observe just how deeply engrained this desire for security and companionship is and have found it quite tough to create a middle ground that feels safe and satisfies both parties. 

But what I hope is that more and more begin to question old, outdated ways of relating, so we can continue to elevate together, elevate the standard in which we relate and communicate—starting with how we relate to ourselves.  

Noticing how we care for and talk to ourselves when there’s no one around. Noticing that how we treat ourselves reflects right back onto how we treat others—not to mention who we attract. Noticing how our interactions with others make us feel. Noticing our intentions when engaging with another. Are we acting from heart, ego, past hurt?

Ah, yes, good old intentions. While I believe we generally have good intentions and all ultimately just want to love and be loved, I see we express or repress this innate need for love in various ways, based on our childhoods and any trauma we may have experienced. Due to our unresolved past, I think many get it wrong from the start, falling into a cozy set of patterns, not realizing how difficult we make it for ourselves—until we do.

So many of us start to date before knowing and loving ourselves—often learning to be codependent from such an early age. Jumping from relationship to relationship. Fix to fix, through all the dramas of life, attempting to use others to try to keep us whole.  

Even in periods of being “single,” we’re entangled in some sort of relationship-ish or three. While I never quite had the energy for so many relationships, I’ve seen it time and time again and recently had to call myself out for not ever really being fully unattached despite believing otherwise, since shortly after leaving my marriage some years ago. 

Sure, I’ve gone months on months without sex or an official boyfriend, but I’ve always had some sort of entanglement—some sort of friend or person I’d be talking to, filling that role I was failing to fill myself. Talking a big game about being single and happy, but deep down knowing this wasn’t quite true. Sharing pieces of myself, but not quite ready to go all in. Wondering if there was better, or if I’d ever truly feel satisfied or safe with another. Again, something I know I’m not alone in.  

And then there’s good old desire (the root of most problems). For years, I lived so deeply repressed, raised in a Catholic household where sex and love were reserved for that one special man you met at the right time. That man who was going to cherish and take care of you. Filling that role of other half, as if we weren’t already whole. This whole damn narrative I was sold—and continue to be sold—despite discovering the lies.

This beautiful discovery sparked a wild rebellion against this classic narrative in more ways than one, as I allowed myself to explore the intense power that resides within human sexuality and human life. This intense energy can be used to destroy or create, however we so choose.  

Something that took a while to see, yet hit me hard one day, as I suddenly saw my patterns with men in a whole new way, observing the ways I continued to use and abuse my power, attracting exactly where I was at.  

Not quite satisfied with any of the characters that came my way because deep down, I was not quite satisfied with myself. Dedicated student on this path toward self-love—doing many of the practices, yet somehow still holding back, not quite knowing exactly how to break this deeply engrained pattern of self-destruction. 

This is something I see all around. So many are not quite sure how to truly be happy alone, without that other half energy or fix of choice boosting them up. Dating apps and social media are making it so much easier to fill space. Feeling bored on our own, vulnerable in the moment, turning to others to make us feel good. Choosing to self-soothe in a way that never quite hits the spot. Choosing partners who possibly inspire similar feelings to the last. New character, same damn lesson. Until we learn.  

And as I learned some time ago, we have this magnetic way of attracting those who mirror what we need to see. Yes, if we dare to look beyond the first glance, beyond the glossy package that draws us in, we attract exactly who we need to learn from. And when we don’t like what we see, we always have the choice to do the work. 

Yes, we have the choice to be honest and communicate, choosing to work through it together, or continue on our solo mission. It’s our job to see and do the work—if we want change, that is. It’s our job to see past the bullsh*t and honor ourselves in an open and direct way, rather than fall victim to the pressures of society.  

There are so many apps out there pushing us to date—to find our “other half”—so many movies about “the one,” but what about an app for single and not looking? Those of us working on ourselves and perhaps needing support to not be pulled back into the same old bullsh*t. What about a place we can talk freely about healing trauma, acknowledging our inner child, our struggles, and all the things we perhaps have a hard time speaking freely on?

What about a place to practice this type of open communication? Without agenda, without trying to sell ourselves or anything else—just simple, honest, from the heart communication. Learning to listen without wanting to change the other’s mind. Learning to consider and respect different viewpoints, different ways of being. Pretty important life skills far beyond dating—especially in this current climate I’d say.  

While I’ve been lucky to have close friendships to practice this type of raw communication with from the start and continue to push myself to practice with new people (and fully encourage whoever this resonates with to do the same), I also realize some don’t have this. And especially feel for the men in this world who are trying to navigate this new way of relating because the pressure to “be a man” and disconnect from all emotion is still so strong—because the key is in the practice. 

While this piece was shared to nudge those who need to be nudged and provoke thought on how we relate, I want to be clear it’s not all doom and gloom, nor does it have to be so serious. Dating is meant to teach us and when it does, it’s our choice how we want to see it. I’m so grateful to see so much of the work already happening with those in my life. To see a growing number of others out there working to know, honor, and love themselves before deep diving into loving another.

The more we can talk openly about it all, the more we move forward together, so I’d love to hear from you.

Does this resonate? Do you struggle in relationships or struggle being alone? Are you unhappy with the quality of partners you are attracting? Do you tend to avoid or use relationships to escape the inner work? Do you feel your reflection in others? 

~

 

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