I have been working with Warren for quite awhile. He started to work with me when his girlfriend, Sophia, broke up with him because he wouldn't commit to her. He was extremely distressed at losing her and all he wanted to do was find a way to get her back. But she was soon in another relationship, and then got married, so he finally had to let go of her.
After Sophia, Warren had a series of relationships. It soon became apparent that he quickly lost interest in women who were healthy and available, and 'fell in love' with those who weren't available or who were so unhealthy that he knew he wouldn't end up with them.
As each relationship broke up, Warren would feel lonely and scared of ending up alone. He told himself and me that he REALLY wanted to get married.
Then he met Heather. Warren had made a list of the qualities he wanted in a partner and she filled 95 percent of them -- and he was very attracted to her. At the beginning, she seemed to be 'The One.'
But then Warren started finding little faults with her. What was going on?
"Maybe I don't really want to get married," Warren said in one of our sessions.
"Warren, how were you feeling before you met Heather?"
"Lonely and very sad to not be in a relationship."
"How have you felt every time you were not in a relationship"?
"Scared that I would never meet someone. But I'm not feeling in love with Heather anymore."
Warren's dilemma is that he doesn't want to be alone and lonely, but he tends to give himself up in relationships in order to not be rejected, and then he shuts down due to losing himself.
The key to resolving Warren's Dilemma is that he needs to make a decision that HE IS WILLING TO LOSE ANOTHER PERSON RATHER THAN LOSE HIMSELF.
This is not an easy decision to make. I remember the day I made this decision. I had been so afraid of being rejected if I was true to myself, that I had been giving myself up for years -- caretaking everyone else's feelings rather than taking loving care of my own feelings. It was making me physically ill, so I knew I couldn't do it anymore. But in order to stop giving myself up, I needed to have the courage to find out if those who said they loved me really did, or if their 'love' was conditional on giving myself up and caretaking them.
It was very hard, but it was worth it, and I have never for a moment regretted my decision. I decided, "If I end up alone, so be it, but that will be better than compromising my integrity by people-pleasing." From the day I made this decision, I started to physically heal.
This is the decision Warren needed to make in order to know whether or not he really loved Heather. As long as he was giving himself up to avoid the possibility of her rejecting him, he could not feel his love for her. He realized that he could not love her when he was not being loving to himself.
Warren started to notice that when he was true to himself and said 'yes' when he meant 'yes' and 'no' when he meant 'no,' he felt really good. And to his surprise, Heather was fine with his honesty. He actually did not have to give himself up to be loved by her. Over time, through taking loving care of himself rather than caretaking Heather, he was able to open his heart more and more. He gradually started to rekindle his initial feelings of love and attraction for Heather.
If you find yourself wanting a relationship when you are not in one, but then feeling trapped once you get in a relationship, you might want to do some inner work to develop the courage to stop losing yourself in relationship. When you learn to love yourself, you will no longer be afraid of rejection or of engulfment, which means that you will no longer be vulnerable to giving yourself up to please others.
Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a relationship expert, best-selling author, and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® self-healing process, recommended by actress Lindsay Wagner and singer Alanis Morissette, and featured on Oprah. To begin learning how to love and connect with yourself so that you can connect with others, take advantage of our free Inner Bonding eCourse, receive Free Help, and take our 12-Week eCourse, "The Intimate Relationship Toolbox" - the first two weeks are free! Discover SelfQuest®, a transformational self-healing/conflict resolution computer program. Phone or Skype sessions with Dr. Margaret Paul.
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