The Path of Relationship
by: Mark Susnow
Each month after completing and fine tuning Letters on Life I’m excited about sending it out. Within a few hours I start to wonder about the next letter and whether people will like it. Is it going to be good enough? Because of this concern I procrastinate and wait until the last minute to start writing the next letter. Underlying this version of the fear of rejection or the fear of failure is the question “am I good enough?” We all have that fear in some form or the other usually stemming from an incident in our youth. Let me share with you when it started for me.
I was away from home for the first time at UC Berkeley. There is always someone you meet that you look up to who seems to have all the answers. Mike Breen was that guy for me. I had just turned 17 and at 19 Mike seemed to possess that wisdom and experience about girls that was missing in my life.
I remember the defining conversation like it was yesterday.. ”Mike what do you do if you meet a girl and you really like her and maybe even love her?”….And Mike coolly replied with that air of maturity and experience, “you tell her how you feel”. I confusingly asked “What if she says she doesn’t love you back?” That was one of my biggest fears and a few years later at the end of my junior year I felt that pain of rejection when my girl friend Bobbi told me she loved someone else. I made the decision that I would never feel that pain again so I avoided anyone who could hurt me like Bobbi did. By looking back and examining some of my old patterns I understand what I did to avoid the possibility of experiencing this pain again.
One thing I did was to select partners who I knew did not fit my picture of the person I wanted to be with. By finding enough faults with them I could keep them at a distance and eventually move on to avoid getting hurt. Another approach was to select a partner who was emotionally unavailable. They were hopelessly self centered, in other relationships or real afraid of intimacy because of the same wounds that I had experienced. If I was really honest with myself it was obvious from the very beginning.
Even though I felt that I wanted a life long partner, this pattern of avoidance lasted for many years. During this phase of my life I had engaged many teachers and mentors and participated in many personal growth workshops and always on some level my focus was on overcoming my barriers to having a great relationship. Sometimes there’s a saying or a poem that sticks with you and makes the biggest difference in your life. For me it was the following quote by Anais Nin that inspired me in my quest.
“And the day came when the risk to remain closed in a bud became more painful than the risk to blossom.”
Have your ever thought about the connection between trust and risk. To have a great relationship you must take a risk…You must be vulnerable. As you are able to increase your capacity to risk you also increase your capacity to trust. As my attitudes and beliefs shifted I was able to embrace my fears, overcome my barriers and attract my soul mate. Annie believes in me and brings out the best in me. We have been on this journey together for over 21 years. I would like to share with you a few of my insights that have enabled me to embrace this path of relationship. In a subsequent article I will share with you some of my insights as to what is necessary to deepen this journey.
We all want to be with someone who we think is special. Regardless of how special they are if they are not interested in you the same way you are interested in them it will never work. Ask yourself if they love you in the way you want to be loved? If they are self absorbed and self centered they probably won’t be capable of loving you in the way you want. I think most of us really know the truth in the beginning but we long so much for this special type of relationship that we overlook the obvious.
Sometimes we start to think that perhaps there’s something wrong with us so we give up on what we really want. We change our values and choose a partner that on some level we know isn’t the right one. We usually have a mental image or concept of the kind of person we want to be with. If your partner does not fit that image your emotions and heart will be in conflict with your mind.
We all have dreams and goals. Honor them by asking yourself if you and your partner share the same dream. If you have different dreams and a different vision it’s going to be difficult for the relationship to reach its fullest potential. Pay attention to the clues. If you desire a long term relationship and pick a partner who hasn’t had a relationship greater than six months, the likelihood is that this new relationship won’t last much longer.
I know there are many books written on relationships. These are just some of my thoughts…I realize that a lot more can be said and in the next letter I will focus on things you can do to enhance the quality of your relationship and to deepen your connection. I hope my experiences and insights inspire possibility in your life Feel free to pass this letter on to those in your circle.
About The Author
Mark Susnow is a coach and speaker who has a unique background. A former trial attorney of 30 years he combines his leadership capabilities with the wisdom gained from many years of meditation and yoga. His articles reflect this journey.