Being with someone over a significant period of time shapes you in ways that you often can’t see. There are always things to learn, especially about who you are and how you give and receive love.
Love can often become confusing in relationships when we can’t separate what we want from our partner and what we need from ourselves.
Often we enter into relationships like an empty glass, hoping our partner will fill us up. The problem is, if we haven’t learned to know and love ourselves, we are unable to receive their love, no matter how hard they try. In other words, we’re blocking the top of the glass without even realizing it, and getting frustrated that it’s still empty.
This can lead to being so overly focused on changing our partners that we can’t see ourselves in the problem, which misdirects our energy.
In truth, our real strength lies in changing ourselves rather than changing the other person.
This is why, in relationship therapy, we address self-love and understanding ourselves first. It’s asking the question, “Why does this upset me?” instead of pointing fingers at our partner.
This thinking forces us to understand our pain better and look at things from a new perspective.
So how do you go about doing this?
It starts with asking yourself tough questions when anger at your partner arises. Some examples:
- If you’re angry about clothes being left on the floor, ask yourself why you’re angry. Is it because your partner’s a slob? Or does it make you feel less valued because they expect you to clean it up, or because they don’t care about how you feel in the space?
- If they’re distracted on their phone while you’re at dinner, are you mad because they’re being rude, or because it makes you feel like they aren’t excited to be around you, or does it make you feel less worthy of love?
- Are you not interested in sex because you’re tired, or because you don’t feel attractive or desirable to your partner?
Asking yourself the questions that apply to you, not them, will give you a better understanding of who you are and what you need. And knowing more about your needs will give you the power to solve many of the obstacles in front of you on your own. When you can feel more whole as an individual, you’ll be able to receive and give love in a more effective and powerful way.