Most of us have chosen badly at some point in life when looking for love. Some of us have done so rather habitually. In either case, you’ve undoubtedly experienced the emotional pain, confusion, anger and sense of betrayal that accompanies choosing badly. Maybe you’ve asked a question like, ‘Aren’t relationships supposed to feel good?’
If so, you’d probably just been through something that in no way felt good but you were feeling like you’d been hit with a bait-and-switch because you knew deep down that it darn well should have felt good. Otherwise, what would be the point, right? Most of us could do just fine being miserable on our own. We certainly don’t need to recruit help to feel like the gum on the bottom of somebody’s shoe.
Well, I’m here to tell you, you dear friend, the answer to that question and to several other related questions. I’m going to share with you the eight key features of a relationship that feels good, and what you need to do if you fail to fire on all eight key features. It requires a few words to do it, so I’ll give it to you in several parts. At the very end I’ll have a very important question for you. Even if you are not currently in a relationship, this is information that will serve you well for the next time the opportunity comes around. And knowing this information, you may just save yourself from having to ask once again, “Aren’t relationships supposed to feel good?”
Key Feature #1. A relationship that feels ‘good’ has nothing to do with taking away all the pain in your life so you don’t have to deal with heartbreak, ennui, emptiness, anger, disappointment, homework, laundry, boredom, bills, self doubt or loss. That’s what drugs and alcohol (or food, gambling, compulsive sex, or spending) are for. But that’s not what a relationship is for—not even a ‘good’ one.
As you read along, ask whether your current (or most important and meaningful) relationship embodies the features listed, or whether it lacks them. There will be more about what to do with that information.
First—and this may seem obvious, but I’ve learned not to assume anything when it comes to how people define relationships—are both parties in agreement that this is a relationship? The answer should be an unequivocal ‘yes.’ If the answer is anything other than ‘yes’, you do not have a relationship, you have a problem. If one person thinks it is a relationship but the other one doesn’t–even if the other one is behaving as if it were–then it is not a relationship. Sorry, it just isn’t. One of the foundational features of a relationship is that it is 100% mutual.
If you are the one who thinks it is a relationship, and you’re telling yourself it is okay that your partner doesn’t define it the same way you do, that you can dig the political bullshit about patriarchy and monogamy or commitment, or that you’ll just take what’s being offered, then you are settling for crumbs. And as long as you settle for crumbs you will never, ever get the whole loaf. If you find yourself in this situation more than once, may I gently and lovingly suggest you would likely benefit from some input from a therapist or a coach because it’s a pattern that is likely holding you back from having a relationship that would make you truly happy.
And if you are the “other” one who doesn’t want to call it a relationship –for whatever your reason–then you are using your partner because you are likely well aware you don’t feel the same way she does. Even if you sorta, kinda love her a little, be a sport and let her go. You know you will eventually, anyway. Better to do it now than to wait a year and really break her heart. In other words, don’t be a cad. Just saying.
I’ve been asked the relationship question by a lot of perfectly awesome, well-meaning, lovable women who, for their own personal reasons, had come to believe that crumbs were all they were going to get–ever. If that’s true for you, time to take a look at some of your limiting beliefs about love and relationships. Real love feels good. Real love is the whole loaf, and it just doesn’t get any better than that.
Part 2 coming soon…