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I’m not going to lie to you—we need a whole lot of advice to make our relationships work.
But today, we’re ditching the “cook for her” and “wear sexy lingerie” advice; instead, we’re focusing on what could keep a relationship alive and healthy.
Let me start by asking you this: how many times do we find ourselves blaming our partner?
How many times do we storm out?
How many times do we have little tolerance for our partner’s behavior?
How many times do we get upset, yell, judge, or shame our partner?
A. F*cking. Lot.
In psychology, this is called “projection.” When we blame, get upset, or judge, we project our feelings on our partner based on our past experiences or hurts that we hide inside. In other words, we move our internal problem into an external source.
Projection is something we all unconsciously do to some degree in our relationships. Why? Because most of our romantic relationships will trigger us. Unlike what we think, relationships aren’t supposed to bring us everlasting happiness every single minute of the day.
Relationships are overwhelming and vulnerable. Someone who was a complete stranger in the past now knows everything about us. So expect to get upset, expect some lows, expect fears, resentment, and trust issues to come to the surface. No matter how much inner work we do in our relationships, our partner will almost always bring out a dormant psychological issue we had no idea we had.
And hey, don’t forget that we all come with enormous emotional baggage. We meet this someone and they see how good looking, funny, and smart we are, but they don’t see the past we’ve been carrying around on our shoulders. They don’t see the traumas, childhood wounds, and patterns we’ve been hiding. So it’s only normal for this past to sneak in and talk through our reactions.
And our reactions can be big. They can hurt. They can sting.
Most of these reactions hold projection at their core. For example, if we’re angry with our partner, we blame them or use their actions to justify our feelings of rage. But this particular feeling of rage is an emotion that we’ve denied in ourselves. It causes our reality to be distorted, which ultimately causes our relationships to end.
And then we enter another relationship, get triggered again, and repeat the same pattern. We’re preventing ourselves from resolving what’s causing the trigger.
So the only relationship advice you’ll ever need to create a long-term, mindful, and healthy relationship is to work on your projections.
Think about their source. Where is this anger coming from? Are you sure you’re mad at your partner or mad at someone else from your past who caused the same wound?
There are many questions we need to ask ourselves if we want our relationships to thrive. And, of course, we need to differentiate between abuse and failures. We all fail in relationships, and we can all save a struggling union. But we should never tolerate maltreatment.
So come to terms with the feelings you’re not expressing. Before becoming defensive, pause, examine what you’re feeling. You’re not going to solve your underlying trauma in one minute, but you can respond in a kind and calm manner now. When the conversation ends and you’re alone, give yourself all the time you need to go through what happened and assess why you wanted to react that way.
Shift your constant attention from your partner. You might be focusing too much on them that you’re spotting all the flaws and can’t see things objectively anymore. Focus instead on your own actions and reactions. Focus on you.
It’s difficult to take ownership or to learn how to deal with our traumas, and it’s natural to feel all kinds of undesirable emotions. We don’t want to stop ourselves from feeling them; we just need to learn where they’re coming from so we can control our reactions.
Again, we’re not controlling the emotion; we’re only controlling what’s coming out of that emotion.
This is everything you need to know about a healthy relationship, folks.