Orion On Finding Your Own Relationship Model
Client: I started thinking about my relationship with X and felt finished at one point, but I cared enough to sit down and talk with him about i...I think I really wanted some sort of commitment, nothing in the long term, but a commitment that I was a priority because I started feeling I was not. I asked him, 'How do you feel about me and what do you want?' He responded with, 'Is this a trick question?' and couldn't really answer me. In the end, he said he needed time. We have a connection when it is there, but we seem unable to make it take a more anchored form.'
You are going to have to start with how you feel about him and what do you want and how comfortable can you be if he cannot match what you want. In other words, you must explore are the energetic moments we share worth not having the kind of continuum you would like to have. Even in that you have your own fears, 'Well, I’d like to have a continuum but we could have separate apartments!' [Client laughs] And that is an appropriate awareness. Even though living together in a shared space may be the 'model' of relationship, it may not be what would really be aligned for a couple. A person might want a certain degree of regularity, connection and commitment, but still want their own space and time.
At the same time, one's fears may color our models. We say we want freedom and space, but perhaps one is really afraid that intimacy with them is not sustainable; fearing that the person we care for will eventually reject us when they see 'I am not 100% great.' So we set up unconscious or conscious boundaries to protect ourselves.
The only question really available is how do you truly feel and what do you want to do? And you cannot come to this using a mental model, as in, it's practical, it's what I should be able to do, etc. Rather, you have to find a true shift of energy. Sometimes people do walk away from people they love because there is more that they want that can’t be there. Or one comes to a point where they say, 'Seeing all these things, I feel this connection is important enough to me that I want to find a new model, a compromise and live from there' If things change, then they will and you'll reach the next point of clarity.
But don't try to get it 'settled' with this is what we'll do. You have to come to what I'll do. Don’t but your focus on getting the other to change and say and do the right things you need. That may occur, but you cannot make it so. Rather see what it is really like for you if you say, 'Okay, this is crazy. I don’t like some of this about myself that I am like this, but what will it be like for me if I just try to go with this flow.' and see where it takes you.
It may take you to the recognition of, 'I really can’t. It’s too costly to other parts of me, even as I know how important this caring is to me.' Or you may be able to lay your cards on the table and say, 'Look, I’m willing to sort of go with this, but I don’t know where it’s going to go and it may be we can’t do it.' He may find his own way to go with the flow knowing you’re not going to keep pushing him and perhaps as you are willing to examine your own fears, he may look at his. But again, he may not, so don't hold that expectation. Many people do not follow the model of insight awareness that you are comfortable with.
The simple acknowledgment to each other that some of the taking 'you as you are' doesn’t work, may open the door to having it work. 'When you need space from me, just let me know and take it. Don't do the things you do to push me away. Just own where you are and communicate it to me.'
What you are exploring is making up your own model of how these two different people might have a relationship. Put aside how relationships should be; put aside how, 'Oh I can’t be invested in this person for all these months because it's not going where I want and I should look for someone new.' Acknowledge the truth that emotionally you are not yet available to look for someone new. The two of you have to let this really evolve and it will then eventually become clearer, and one of you, if not both, will get to the place of, 'Here’s how it really is for me.'
Each of you are, naturally, carrying 'shoulds' about relationship and models of relationship and the conflicts within those models. The challenge is to bring them to conscious awareness, to put them on the table. From there you may find naturally arising compromises. And most of all, you can explore this lightly and with an element of humor. 'Well what is it like just for us, if these two goofy personalities would try make up being together? ? How can we just be different than maybe other people who are together?'
Again, you have to find this place from the inside out, not mentally as a good idea. Neither of you can yet let go you want the energy that does show up when you are together. 'How do we put that together in our ongoing way of living, of being together?' And that’s where we think there could be more discussion.
On the other hand, all of this might be just exhausting, and you might just say, 'I can’t do any of that. I don’t want to…' and if that is what emerges, then that’ll be the truer energy. Even if you miss this person, even if you’re sad, even if you have to turn away, if that’s truly what shows up, then you’ll be able to do it. In the end there has to be compatibilities to maintain connection.
At another time in one’s life, somebody might not want an ongoing framework of connection and they’re quite happy with 'Oh, you’re in town, great, let’s go have a weekend.' This may not be what you want now, but there isn't anything inherently wrong with it. The true consideration is what really suits an individual, not the model of how relationships should be.
Client: When I think of what relationships should be what comes up is that it shouldn't be difficult.
Yes, everyone likes that ideal, but alas, it’s not true. And to us, it's not true more than ever. At other times, people culturally had very different expectations about relationships and relationships were required to be structured in certain ways. Today, people do not have to, as it were, bind together. In other times, people literally did have to bind together. The independent life was typically unavailable and rare. In this era, independent people can live totally on their own. And from this is evolving new ways of relating. The main challenge we see is matching your life to someone else's when there is not over-riding necessity to live together.
Coming together naturally asks various compromises, which people do not have to make in their individual lives. It is challenging because the option of 'I'll just be unto myself' is so available. In other times the individual model was not available and even more so, the option to uncouple was not available, so people made and accepted compromises that fit within that frame.
We could say your parents' generation, people in the 60's now, was really the first era where you could divorce or live together without marriage without stigma. There was divorce before that, but it was with stigma. People that lived together and weren’t married were judged. Culture has moved along and it's moving very quickly in options, but how it works out is not evolving as quickly. Many now are not even considering the marriage aspect, they struggle with shall we live in the same place. They ask, 'Do I really want to give up my own place?' The outer anchors that contributed to why people partnered up is changed by the fact that individuals can provide their own physical security, with their own income, own homes etc.
So partnering now is a real emotional choice and we see the challenge then arises in matching the practical choices in living together. 'Well gee, if I live by myself I just eat whatever I want to eat except when we go out and we go to a restaurant.' This may sound trite, but we see that these seemingly small things do matter. People are less willing and find it harder to make compromises. The challenge being faced is matching and merging today's independent self-sufficient lives. The question on the table is, 'Is the emotional connection strong enough and important enough that I can find my way to make compromises I would have to if I lived by myself.'
Relating has already changed for the younger generation. The old way of picking up the girl at the parent's house for a 'date' had passed by. People instead go out with the crowd and pairing off emerges from that. Different social mores are evolving and in that it is being 'made up as it goes along' and there is a hodge-podge nature to is. There are people who want new models and at the same time, people who are valiantly fighting for the right to participate in the conventional model, as in same-sex marriage. All of this is to remind you that part of why things seem unclear and confusing is not just your own inner challenge, but part of the evolving relationships models surrounding you.
Again, the question to each other is, 'We have this connection. How do we create a way to live it.' Sometimes people carry fear of connection and create boundaries in which they feels safe. So more questions might be asked. 'How do we make up where this caring goes? How do we do it? What does it look like? What are our expectations?' Be aware, though, that 'cards on the table' does not mean instant resolution or direct action. Sharing may not be tit-for-tat. But you do have to stay anchored in what it is that you can truly offer. Compromises you do not want to make will erode connection and come up later.
You began by saying how you asked X how did he feel about you and what did he want. Together you might be able to talk about what you both want with the idea of 'If we can figure out what we actually want or are doing at this present moment, maybe we can find ways to deal with it or be with it, and maybe when that’s done a certain way other options can arise.'
And how do we ask our questions? X closed down when you asked him, 'What do you want and how do you feel?' Do you want to express in your own style or do you want to communicate in a way that gets a response? What do we put in our way that gives us a past response and does not change the energy for a new one? You may want to ask that question, but will it get you want you want? If you don't think so, you may want to say to yourself, 'Can I just handle my own feelings right now, because he never can answer it that way?' In the end, if X feels you are not going to ask him, 'What do you want and how do you feel?' his defenses may soften and he might be able to say, 'You know, I really like you. You’re important to me.'
Conscious relating is hard work. And in the end, you may not want to do it and it may not work out the way one would like. But exploring your relationship may help you get clear enough to know you've 'given it your best shot' and then you may be able to truly say, 'This is a person I loved and never found a way to have anything ongoing with him.' This does occur - people we love that we cannot build a life with.
And lastly, remember that what looks like 'easy' relationships on the outside may have very different dynamics than yours. They may be very compatible in external things or perhaps they manage their emotions so they can be in the relationship. If the model doesn't support you, don't use it to judge yourself.
Edited from a personal session with permission
Featured in Expansion - the Orion Wisdom newsletter Fall 2014