I’m sharing about my personal story today. It’s vulnerable to write about it, but I think it’s really important for you to know, so I’m going for it even though it's a little scary. Thanks for reading with an open heart.
My partner and I just celebrated our four year wedding anniversary, and it’s been such a huge gift to have this relationship in my life.
This is why I do the work I do.
BUT IT WASN'T ALWAYS THIS WAY
When I was single (which was for a LONG time), I used to look at happy couples and think that it was always that way for them. Love was easy, they were lucky, and I came from some other planet of the unlucky, unlovable ones.
That’s why I’m sharing this story. So you can know that you’re from the same planet as everyone else. Love is possible. Yes, even for you.
When I first met my husband, I dismissed him out of hand. He was young (8 years younger! Way too big an age difference...), he was nervous (what a dork), and he was obviously into me (eeew. something must be wrong with him). Forget it
My critic was strong and loud. My radar wanted to tune him out.
I liked the smooth-talking men, the ones who knew how to make me feel wanted with flirting and seduction. I also liked people who were really ambiguous - about me, about relationships, about their status. Bonus points if they were tortured souls who felt ill-at-ease with life in general.
Combine all of the above and my radar would blink and bonk off it’s rocker:
Yes! Yes! This One! Go For This One!!
What do you think it meant when he invited me out for drinks but then there was another woman there? Were they just friends, or is he trying to tell me he’s dating her, or is he dating both of us, or is he dating me and not her and I’m just being insecure?
On, and on, and ON it went.
Hours, weeks, and months (sometimes years) of tears and frustration.
If I could only crack the code, maybe they would find me deserving and show up more. Or maybe they already really secretly liked me and were just scared of love? If I gave him more space, would he be more into me? Or maybe I wasn’t expressing my interest enough and I should come on stronger? Or maybe they wanted something different now but would come around eventually?
I was too scared to ask. I didn’t really want to know. And, ultimately, it didn’t matter.
Either you’re getting clear signals or you’re not.
Either the person you’re dating is showing up consistently and appropriately, or they’re not.
Either you’re being honored, respected, and treated well, or you’re not.
The real question is:
Do you have the strength to ask for what you need?
Do you have the strength to walk away if your needs are not getting met?
I’m not talking about walking away from someone who is not ready to be monogamous after the first date.
(Note: Not everyone is ready for monogamy at the same stage of a relationship and that doesn’t make anyone a jerk. You’re allowed to date other people at the beginning of a relationship, so is your date. Not everyone wants to be monogamous, either, and that also doesn’t make them a jerk. But it does make them a terrible match for you if monogamy is essential for you to have a happy relationship).
Negotiation and compromise are an important part of any relationship. But you need to be super clear about what works for you, and what doesn’t. You’ve got to know your bottom lines. And you need to be able to walk away if you’ve given it an honest chance and things aren’t working. For many years, I didn’t have the ability to do those things. I spent WAAAAAAY too much time in painful relationships. It makes me sad and angry to think about it now. My radar was broken. I wasn’t able to make good choices for myself. I went after the unavailable ones and turned away the available ones.
It took lots of hard work on myself for that to change (and I got lots of great help). I started to realize that I had turned away from several really nice guys who would have made great partners for me. I just couldn’t see them through my broken radar. They literally just didn’t register.
Thankfully, when my husband showed up (as this young, nervous guy), I knew enough about my broken radar to give him a chance, despite those critical voices. I allowed him in a little bit. And then a little bit more. Slowly, slowly.
Until it started to be clear to me that he was an amazing man. He shared my most deeply held values around social justice and spirituality. We had similar visions for our lives, for a relationship, and for the world.
Most importantly, he was available and interested in a real relationship and treated me incredibly well. Day after day, week after week, month after month, he showed up as a kind, respectful date and eventually partner and husband. (Plus, it turns out the 8 year age difference is kinda cool, ya’ know?)
I had to adjust my radar so I could see him accurately. I had to give him a chance.
That shift was one of the most important ones for me, and I see it with my clients over and over again:
Adjusting the skew in your radar allows real love in, and keeps painful love out.
Do a little check-in with yourself right now:
Is your radar broken?
Does it need a minor adjustment or a major overhaul?
Can you walk away from people who are not meeting your needs?
Can you give the ‘nice guys’ and ‘nice women’ a serious chance?
The good news is that just being aware that your radar is skewed can help you make better choices. You don’t need to wait for the major overhaul to start adjusting for any imbalances.
You can start now: opening to love, walking away from pain.
That simple? Yes. That easy? No!
I have great faith in you. I see it all the time. It’s incredibly wonderful. People who have been struggling for years find rich, rewarding lasting love. It happened for me. I know it can happen for you, too.
And I’m here to support you on the journey.
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