Follow-up on the previous coaching:
“Based on what you wrote, it looks like the reason for staying in this relationship is that you are telling yourself a story that the emotional experience after breaking up is going to be worse than staying.”
Yes definitely. I also think I am staying for the following reasons:
- because it is convenient for me to have a part-time long-distance relationship – I can maintain my autonomy and not have to share a living space with someone else, or be alone a lot more than I want to
- because I enjoy having a long-term sex partner so I don’t have to go without sex or look for a new partner
- because I am emotionally attached to R and depend on him to some extent. We have been friends and lovers for four years and I value that time put in
- because I have a tendency to stay in relationships over breaking up (this was different when I was 17-18).
- because I attach my value, self-worth, and well being to being in a relationship (to some extent)
- because we have broken up three times and gotten back together before, I don’t want to repeat the cycle
- because I might not meet someone who is better, and just wind up alone or in another relationship that I find disappointing and hurtful
“Your worthiness is absolute even if you were on an island by yourself with no witness of your existence.”
Can you talk more about this? I want to understand it more fully. I don’t think I believe this yet, except on an intellectual level.
“We oftentimes use relationships as a distraction from our relationship with ourselves. That is using a relationship as a buffer since the drama creates a disconnection from our relationship to ourselves. This is one of many negative consequences since the drama keeps you from looking at the relationship you currently have with yourself.”
I think this has been the case most of my life, and I’m not sure where to begin to change it. I think my relationship with myself has improved over the last year of doing thought work, but I am still really hard on myself, having a hard time sleeping, and feel socially and emotionally isolated.
“What happens to how you feel about yourself when you are single?”
I feel lonely and like I am less valuable. I think there is something wrong with me, or otherwise, someone would want to be with me. I worry about being too old, too fat (150 lbs, 5’5″), too unattractive, not talented, or intelligent enough. I feel socially awkward in both cases, but it is nice to have a partner with good social skills so I don’t have to work to meet people. I sometimes feel compelled to go meet someone romantically because I am emotionally upset about my last breakup or feeling dissatisfied with myself and want to feel better. I also ruminate about things that went “wrong” in past relationships. I think the main feeling I feel is a kind of emptiness and dissatisfaction with myself. When I was single and happier, I was focused on raising my young son and going to school, and I didn’t have as much drive to find a partner because I was tired and excited about other things.
“What happens to your worthiness when you don’t have a partner?”
I understand intellectually that I am worthy. I have generated a lot of evidence over the years that I am not worthy. I use conflicts with family members, friends, and lovers as evidence for this, as well as endings of friendships and romantic relationships. I also list things people did to me that I think are unkind or unacceptable as proof of this. I also embrace resentments against past lovers and friends that I am no longer as close with. I make excuses for why I can’t trust people or why they will probably reject me based on these events. I use this feeling as an explanation for why I don’t have as many close friends as I think I should have. I avoid social situations and opportunities to spend time with current or potential friends. I think I am socially excluded and people don’t want to be my friend when I am not in a relationship (I have similar thoughts with a slightly different bent when I am in a relationship.)
“What is your deepest desire for a relationship with a partner? Don’t rush to answer this question.”
I want to feel safe like I can trust the person to have my happiness as a priority. I want to have autonomy and respect. I want to be able to excel in my career, travel, own a home, and build financial wealth. I want to feel like I am contributing positively to the other person and the world at large. I don’t want to feel drained from frequent disagreements, arguing, or discovering things the person has done or said that I find hurtful. I want to be able to sleep well next to this person. I want to be able to trust that they won’t cheat on me if they are unhappy, lonely, or I travel away from them, or vice versa.
I want a monogamous relationship. I want a relationship where we both know we love each other and can talk openly about the relationship and the future without fighting or hurting each other. I want a relationship with mutual support and affection that lasts.
I want to be with someone I respect and trust. I want someone who is emotionally and financially stable. I want someone who is emotionally healthy and empathetic. I want someone who is good at making decisions, flexible, easy to talk to, and willing to let me make my own decisions without getting upset. I want someone who is spiritually and interpersonally aware and doesn’t do things that hurts my feelings all the time. I want someone who won’t lie to me or cheat on me. I want someone who doesn’t want to sleep with my friends or want to sleep with other people in general.
“Knowing what I know now about this relationship would I still choose it today?”
Probably not. There are a lot of good things about R, but I feel like he keeps falling short and I think he feels the same about me. I also am pretty angry with him for not following my manual. Finally, I continue to have affection for him and miss him when we are apart.