You may think they’d be asking me, “Why can’t I find the right person?” or “Why can’t I seem to keep a long term relationship?” Surprisingly, quite the contrary! Questions are more akin to, “Everyone I date seems to want more from me than I want to give—why can’t I find someone who gives me my space? I almost want to be in a relationship on the weekends, and single on the weekdays. I can’t imagine living with someone!”
This is a trend that coincides with our culture’s changing views of marriage (which I’ve written about more extensively here), and people who have big plans for their careers and don’t want to threaten their journey toward success at any cost, even if it means sacrificing deep and fulfilling relationships in the process.
In my practice, I’ve noticed a surprising trend in the attitudes of the single men and women over thirty.
This may seem like the right move at the time, but my older clients often tell me they regret working so hard that they avoided the opportunity to share in their journey to success with someone else. Now they have the economic security, but none of the cherished life experiences that meaningful relationships bring. Being in a relationship, or even dating, during such an active part of your life doesn’t have to mean that you sacrifice one for the other. But you must apply the same kind of exciting courage and risk for love as you apply toward your professional endeavors!
Doesn’t the saying go something like, “It’s better to have loved and lost (some money) than to never have loved at all!”
Being “Weak” is a Strength: Do you have a fear that being vulnerable and letting your emotional guard down will weaken the defensive walls that protect you from the stress that comes from following your dreams? Well I have news for you: all those bottled up emotions are going to boil over sometime whether or not you’re in a relationship if they go unattended!
Being in a caring relationship can allow you to emote in a safe environment, blow off steam, and ensure that your pot never boils over. A majority of the people that I counsel and coach are either literally alone, or figuratively alone in unhappy relationships where they feel like they’re dating or married to a roommate, rather than a life-partner-in-crime. If there were more people in the world who were more comfortable being vulnerable, then I would be out of a job!
(For more insight into being vulnerable, read this amazing TED Talk by Brené Brown here)
Power in Numbers: If you’re savvy in business, then you know that teamwork is the key to any successful endeavor, and the same can be said for healthy relationships. If you can find a partner that mutually compliments your lifestyle and goals, then they become an asset, not a hindrance, to your success. But that doesn’t mean you find yourself someone who you can disregard when you feel the slightest sense that they may be asking something of you that you may have to compromise on. It means that a person who understands your goals will be able to communicate with you in a mature way, build you up when you’re feeling down, and come to the rescue when you need assistance. They become your “business partner” in life, excited to see you succeed and thrive.
Giving is Receiving: Studies have proven that humans are happier when they are of service to others. You may say, “I’m of service every day! Do you know how many things I do for people at work? It’s like I’m Atlas carrying the world on my back!” That may be true, but that type of service asks for something in return; namely money, power, or recognition. Healthy relationships do not demand a return on services rendered—the act of being present and selfless for someone is the reward in and of itself.
This can be achieved in many ways outside of a romantic relationship, such as volunteering at a homeless shelter or participating in a Big Brother or Big Sister program. The difference between volunteering and being in a mutually giving relationship is that the gifts and affection are cyclical—sometimes you receive selfless affection and sometimes you provide it. It’s a win-win for both people, and how often does that scenario happen in business? Not as often, by any means!
Don’t Make Your Heart a Prisoner of Your Past: If you have a long history of being in codependent relationships, it makes sense you’d protect yourself from falling into another one by analyzing new prospective partners with a microscope, searching for codependent tendencies like a grade-school teacher looking for signs of head lice. But that kind of intense scrutiny may be overdoing it, and you may be making mountains out of handholds.
Be open to affection—a friendly text message or two during the day doesn’t mean they’re asking for a wedding ring—it may simply mean they want you to know they’re thinking of you, which is what couples do to build connections! If it makes you feel like you’re behind prison bars because you have to respond, then it truly may not be the right time for a relationship. Just be sure to give your prospective partner the benefit of the doubt. There are millions of men or women out there that aren’t interested in breathing down your neck, so don’t let one or two bad relationships keep you from giving them (and your heart) a shot.
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