Romantic relationships seem to be the modern Holy Grail for almost everyone.
While we daydream about finding the right partner, movies, books and Taylor Swift feed our obsession a little more every day. But despite the fact that most of us crave it, true love sucks. As I am wrestling with being in a great relationship myself, I’ve compiled five reasons why an awesome relationship is the worst thing that can happen to you.
True intimacy is terrifying and every single one of us unconsciously wants to avoid it.
There is one word that best describes the response we all have toward intimate relationships: terror, says Abdi Assadi. That is inevitably true. While we consciously crave a fulfilling romantic relationship, our unconscious is anything but down for it; it doesn’t find vulnerability (a necessary condition for intimacy but a perceived threat to survival) sexy at all.
We’ve all spent our lives developing unconscious mechanisms to protect ourselves and therefore avoid vulnerability. If you want a relationship that does more than grazing the superficial parts of your soul, you’ll have to hunt and track your unconscious patterns and their origins. This is arduous (and endless) psychological and emotional work. While this is in the spooky zone for all of us, it is far from a gloomy finding.
Indeed, relationships are a great pathway to emotional and even spiritual growth! Whether you are picking the same unavailable partner ten times a year or avoiding intimacy by trying to control everything your partner does, relationships are a badass opportunity to grow, learn about yourself and free yourself from old patterns that are not serving you anymore.
You will have to take responsibility for your emotions.
It’s not your partner, it’s you. One of the biggest lessons of my current relationship is that my anxiety, fear, and jealousy are most definitely about me and have absolutely nothing to do with what my partner does or does not do. Even the partners we choose are a product of our unconscious patterns; we choose the partners we need in order to face specific psychological wounds and emotional desires.
Therefore, your emotions, though intense and valid, often have little to do with the person you are with. Lately, I have examined the fact that my anxiety of losing my partner through cheating or simply drifting apart, has a lot to do with my control-freakness being unable to act as usual since we live in different countries.
Relationships are mirrors where we get the chance to observe ourselves more clearly, sometimes for the first time.
Note: while there might be unconscious wounds that make us more vulnerable to abusive and narcissistic relationships, this article does not aim to say that victims are responsible for “choosing” their abusers or the source of their abuse.
You will be forced to let go of perfection.
I find it absolutely mind-blowing how so many of us identify as perfectionists, or act as one without even noticing. We are so attached to the idea of perfection, and when we start a relationship, we often tend to see or focus only on the aspects of the partner we like.
True intimacy will most surely force you to admit that your partner isn’t perfect (or that he/she is but with all his/her flaws!). Worse, you’ll have to stop pretending that you are perfect.
Again, wanting to be “perfect” under all circumstances stems from the belief that you won’t be loved and safe if you aren’t. For me, fighting this pattern has been as simple as allowing myself to be grumpy or tired when I am, or not obsessing about looking conventionally sexy at all times (a great step since I hate putting on makeup and heels hurt my feet terribly).
You will have to stand for yourself.
That love means doing everything for someone else is a myth. While healthy relationships surely include compromises, love isn’t an abnegation competition.
I believe true love lets you do what you desire, and lets you grow. Trying to control the growth of your partner is actually one more trick to avoid intimacy. Check in: are there ways you are trying to control your partner instead of saying loud and clear what you need?
One tricky step is that in order to be honest about your needs, you need to know what they are. Introspection isn’t always easy, but people-pleasing and constant care-taking are clearly obstacles on the way to intimacy. As a recovering compulsive people-pleaser I try to start small and focus on the little things in life. It can be as simple as speaking up when we’re choosing what movie to watch or what take-out to order.
There is an endless list of ways we avoid intimacy and filling our life with great intimate relationships, romantic or not. It can feel daunting to consider all the work left to do, but you can start with things as easy as exploring the area of your first chakra, where vulnerability, trust and fear reside, finally saying something to your partner, friends or family that you’ve kept to yourself or spending time alone to get to know what truly rocks your boat.
The most important thing to remember is this—great relationships start with being intimate with yourself. Relationships are the yoga of the heart. Some practices are harder than we thought, but we can also get amazing breakthroughs when we do the work.
Author: Soizic June Hagège
Apprentice Editor: Elly Woods; Editor: Catherine Monkman
Image: Ian Schneider at Unsplash