When you take the enormous risk of bringing a new romantic interest into your life, there are two very separate parts of you at work.
These two parts need to be separated out a bit, for you to understand what the heck is going on.
There’s the grown-up part… conscious, decisive, and knows exactly what it’s doing. Well, not exactly, but it knows it feels sooooo good.
And then there’s the inner child part… unconscious, deeply tucked away somewhere, and is mostly directing the show, and making choices that the grown-up part of you is not quite aware of.
Let’s focus for a second on the simpler one… The grown up part. This part picks a partner because he’s handsome, she’s beautiful, she has the same hobbies as you, he dresses nice, he makes you feel special, he’s friends with your friends… this list is endless.
Now, back to our inner child part. When picking a partner, you pick your mirror image.
Your inner child part is always doing push-ups in the back room. It’s always trying to resolve SOMETHING. A romantic partner, whether you might like this or not, is here to show you exactly what you believe about yourself. If your beloved is not open and real and authentic, then you might have more to learn about how to be vulnerable and take emotional risks.
When you’re frustrated with a romantic partner, and you want to know what’s really happening, you must:
1) Look in the mirror.
2) Ask what makes you attracted to this person.
3) Cultivate a massive amount of self-love and gentleness for yourself.
4) Know that this part is so deep and so human, that you cannot possibly just figure it out intellectually.
5) Get a coach or counselor, or learn from a book that teaches about how to risk and be vulnerable, instead of attacking. Attacking keeps you bound to the person, and doesn’t get you away from them.
6) Recognize when you’re talking with friends, that they will usually talk to the grown-up part of you, and just ask questions and give you advice. The advice usually doesn’t help. A friend who listens, and is gentle with the part of you that is deeply in love with this mess-of-a-human, is a friend to sit with.
7) Understand that this part of you is barely understandable and cannot be reasoned with. You’re in love with this person who treats you like crap. There’s a reason, and it’s very deep. You must slow down to make contact with your inner-child-romantic-love-choice machine.
Couples that come to me in distress rarely had 17 years of bliss, and one year of difficulty. They usually had 2 years of bliss, and 15 years of communication being a mess, and 4 years of continuous threats to leave the relationship.
This inner child part that chooses a relationship partner needs management.
It needs soothing.
It needs to be understood in small pieces by your grown-up part.
It has a mind of its own.
And it’s okay that it makes kookoo choices. It doesn’t know better.
This young part that makes romantic love choices needs you to be patient with it, to learn from it. The path of moving from picking emotionally unavailable partners, to recognizing kindness and availability, is a slow healing journey.
Knowing the right emotional risks to take, and recognizing if your partner meets you there, for you both to heal, is one of the most important things you will ever do.
The next time you give a friend romantic advice, check in with yourself.
Are you going to talk to their grown-up part and just name all the reasons why the partner is bad, collude together on how this human is messing up? Or are you going to find the most gentle, kind place in both of you, to discuss the topic of romantic love, and talk directly to the inner child temper tantrum that occurs when we’re not loved the way we want to be loved?
Relationship advice often has good intentions, but misses the mark entirely.
About the Author: Derek HART is one of Your Monthly Mentors, a Relationship Coach, Speaker, Writer, and the founder of UnderstandEachOther.com based in San Anselmo, California. He has been counseling people since 1990, with over 27,000 hours in experience. The unique experience he brings to his counseling practice is based upon years of doing his own deep inner work. A student and teacher of the human journey, Derek has continually studied the great works of the top psychology and spiritual masters of our time. Read More…