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“I don’t know how to be in a relationship"

Relationships aren’t meant to be easy. They challenge us in many ways.

And sometimes these challenges are enough for people to think it best to stay single or to feel inadequate, defensive, and disempowered in their relationship. The default is often to think ‘it shouldn’t be this hard’. We live in a time when the sense of effort sometimes can get a little lost. But when was something worth having ever easy?

Relationships have the potential to be one of your greatest life teachers. If you know how to approach them with the right mindset and tools.

And let me tell you why.

Relationships reflect inner dynamics that are at play thus providing us an opportunity to see something that’s going on within that we are not necessarily conscious of.

For example, if you think your partner is too loud and outgoing when you are in social circumstances, and that makes you feel a little embarrassed maybe. This is actually not about them being too loud or outgoing, but it’s about how your own judgement of being too loud and too outgoing may be impacting your own life. It might not make sense to you but replace it with any qualities you feel a little activated by your partner displaying.

And ask yourself, what can this teach me about myself?

How does judging those qualities as good or bad limit me in my life?

What would I consciously choose to do differently if I didn’t fear being perceived that way?

Thus, with every relationship challenge comes the opportunity to get to know yourself better and grow closer to who you authentically are and want to be, free from judgement and limitations.

Because our most intimate relationships will also require us to be vulnerable, it will trigger basic fears around being abandoned or engulfed.

Even if you were raised by parents who did their very best, chances are your emotional needs may have not been met at some point and as a result, you developed a survival strategy around that (or a default mode if you like). And the way you can reflect back on where your needs haven’t been met and whether this survival strategy is still justified and helpful in your adult life is through your relationship.

So I’d encourage you to notice where you expect your partner to fill in a gap for you, to respond to your needs in a way no one has ever done. What expectations do you place on them?

Now if you can see that, your relationship gives you the opportunity to reparent yourself and give yourself the safety, acceptance and compassion you need to thrive.

Our relationships also teach us about what real love is and what it isn’t. It challenges us to consider our own needs and wants, and learn to communicate these. It also opens up our ability to give and receive love which is equally as important.

So if one day, maybe today, maybe sometime in the future you find yourself thinking, ‘I don’t know how to be in a relationship’ just ask yourself what can your relationship teach you about yourself. What can it help you see and how can it be of service to you? Because this my friend, is where your growth lies.

As always, I’d love to hear from you on how this lands with you.

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