A great relationship question came to us last week and because it’s a question that many people have asked themselves about their relationship at one time or another…We thought you might benefit from our answer, so we’ve included it here…The question is…Can you “be yourself” and find your perfect partner, creating a relationship that will last, especially if you haven’t been too successful at it in the past?
Whether you’re searching for the love of your life or you are in a committed relationship and would like for things to go a little better…
From time to time, in your frustration, these thoughts can creep in–“Do I have to be the one who has to change to have what I want? Can’t I just be who I am? And why can’t I seem to get what I want?”
Here’s a great question from a reader who explains her frustration and our answer…
***QUESTION FROM A READER:
Dear Susie and Otto–
“I’m a big fan of your work. I’ve been back in the dating game for about 2 years now and 3 of 4 of my relationships during that time ended with me being dumped.
“This last one was the most devastating, as I really thought he was ‘the one.’ Trying to learn, I’ve been reading a lot of stuff, mostly online, of the ‘Mars vs. Venus’ variety, ‘Catch Him, Keep Him,’ etc.
“What’s your thought on this sort of stuff? It would seem to me that the message in all of these is that it’s up to the woman to make the relationship work by thinking more like a man (how’s that collaboration?).
“For example, don’t talk about your feelings too much or too early; play hard to get; act confident, etc. Again, this advice is frequently not just for finding a relationship but sustaining one too.
“While I understand some of it, I also wonder if it isn’t better to just be who you are and try to find someone who matches that. My style is to talk about my feelings. Sure, I understand I don’t need to do it all the time, but why should I suppress that part of myself to ‘catch and keep Mr. Right?’
“I’m 38 and have yet to find Mr. Right so it would seem I have plenty to learn. Placing the onus of a successful relationship on woman’s ability to think like a man seems a bit one-sided and disingenuous. Shouldn’t I just be myself from day 1 (reflective, a tad insecure,and shy but very generous, smart, and funny) and let that be my filter? Or maybe that’s why I’m still single?”
It’s always tough and a lot of times heartbreaking to have a relationship turn out to be something different than you hoped for and dreamed about.
Not fun. We’ve been there (as have most people) and it’s not easy.
“Dumped” is an interesting choice of words to describe relationships that weren’t right. This would seem to indicate that you were unaware of any dis-satisfaction or desire on the part of your previous partners to want something different than what the two of you had.
In saying that, we want you to know that we’re certainly not beating up you or anyone else in a similar situation for being in relationships that ended before you wanted them to end.
We look at breakups a little differently than some people…
As crazy as it sounds, the break up of a relationship is an opportunity.
It’s an opportunity to look at these relationships that ended from a different perspective and with “new eyes.”
Take some time, grab a sheet of paper and answer these questions from our course “How to Heal Your Broken Heart” for each of your previous relationships that ended–
1. What were the challenges that the two of you faced in your relationship?
2. What did you (or could you) learn from your partner and from this relationship?”
When you take the time to actually sit down and objectively answer these questions, you’ll probably see one or more patterns emerge.
To give you a hypothetical example…
You might see that many of your previous partners have left you and that you have had challenges in saying what was true for you–so you kept your feelings inside.
Although you learned something different by being in each relationship, you learned to be more of who you are and to speak from that place more of the time. You also learned what you didn’t want.
Whether you are currently in a committed relationship or getting over the break up of one…
This exercise will help you to make some sense out of your path and the partners you have chosen.
***Your question about learning new info about relationships–
Good for you for opening to learning more about how to have a great relationship–and no, we’re certainly not saying that it’s the woman’s role to fix the relationship by thinking like a man.
There’s no place for game-playing in a close, connected relationship–even in the beginning–and confidence is attractive in both men and women.
Some of the info you mentioned is in our opinion incredibly helpful and useful and some of it can take you sideways from what you want in a relationship.
Everybody has an opinion and I’m sure other relationship experts would all have different opinions about the work we do and what we teach. It would resonate with some and others, it wouldn’t.
We’ve studied the work of countless relationship teachers including these two that you mentioned in particular and …
We don’t think either of those two people you specifically mentioned are suggesting you should think like a man.
Understanding men’s and women’s differences is what the “Mars VS Venus” stuff is intended to be all about. And the “Catch Him and Keep Him” info (we have most of it) is about creating a lasting connection.
While we don’t agree with everything Christian Carter says on his web site, a lot of it can be extremely on target.
Our criteria for studying with someone is usually… “Do they walk their talk?” In other words, is their relationship like the one I want.
If they don’t have the kind of relationship that you want–then they would have to be teaching from the perspective of a “reporter.”
No matter which of these types of people it is– you should always be asking yourself…
“Is what they’re teaching useful, practical and grounded in depth and what part of it resonates with me?”
***Now to your really interesting question…
“Shouldn’t I just be myself from day 1 (reflective, a tad insecure, and shy but very generous, smart, and funny) and let that be my filter? Or maybe that’s why I’m still single?”
Of course you should “be yourself” from day 1–otherwise you are not building a firm foundation for a relationship that will last.
But we invite you to go a little deeper into looking at who you truly are and what you are attracting.
One thing we realized early on is that all of us usually attract our reciprocal or opposite to heal, learn and grow.
People who have abandonment issues might attract partners who leave.
People who fear their partners will cheat, might attract those who do.
They don’t mean to do it but it usually ends up that way until a part of them heals.
Rather than thinking that you have to be someone different to attract what you want, try a reframe…
A reframe might be to look beneath a protective mask you’ve been wearing (we all wear them) to find the real core of you.
You could ask yourself these questions…
“Is this really who I am or is this a ‘mask’ that’s covering over another layer of me or another aspect of me that I am protecting?”
“What’s holding me back?”
“Do I withhold part of myself because of fear?”
As tough as it is to think about and admit–we ALWAYS have and attract everything into our lives we are truly committed to–even though we don’t like to admit it.
It’s true for us and we believe it’s true for everyone.
So look at what you are committed to and see if that is serving you.
A good place to start is to look at the stories (both good and bad) that you are telling yourself about how life and relationships are–according to the way you look at the world.
It’s our stories that we tell ourselves that we continue to believe that keep us from having what we want–and they will show what we are committed to.
One of the most important things we can all do all the time is to be constantly working on and creating more empowering stories to live our lives from in each moment.
We’re always working on this and we invite you to also.