How often have you had the experience of falling in love and believing that you have found your soul mate, only to have the relationship fall apart — in three months, six months, a year, or 20 years? Has it left you wondering what happened to the love and connection you originally experienced?
Love does not accidentally die — it dies for significant reasons. Here are three of the major ones:
1. Controlling behavior is a red flag.
It is my professional experience that most people enter relationships with two big fears: the fear of rejection and the fear of engulfment. While these are triggered in love relationships, they usually stem from childhood experiences with parents, siblings, and peers. If your significant other ignores your call, it can trigger your fear of rejection. If he or she gets angry or demanding, it can set off your fear of engulfment.
Most people resort to some form of controlling behavior once these fears are triggered. They may get angry and demanding or become resentful and shut down. Obviously, none of these reactions support love. Love gradually erodes the more you operate from your fears and attempt to control your partner — or resist being controlled by them. This cycle is broken when you learn to take responsibility for your own feelings rather than abandoning them.
2. Don't abandon yourself.
When you neglect to take loving care of yourself — by ignoring your own feelings, judging yourself, numbing out with various addictions, or holding your partner responsible for your sense of worth — you end up feeling needy and insecure. This feeds the fear of losing your partner or losing yourself.
The more you learn to take care of yourself, the less you fear rejection from others. Self-loving people are better at setting limits that protect them from being controlled and engulfed by a romantic partner. Their hearts are also more open to love. Fear closes the heart. Love opens it. Healthy self-love starts by learning to be present and mindful of your feelings — rather than continuing to avoid them. Once you are aware of your painful feelings and what you're telling yourself is causing them, you can open to your higher, wiser self for the truth.
3. Watch where your blame goes.
Most of us find it easy to see what our partner is doing wrong but hard to notice our own end of a dysfunctional relationship system. But it's so important to take your eyes off your partner and put them on yourself. By remaining honest with yourself about your fears and resulting controlling behavior, you'll be able to take responsibility for your own feelings.
Start moving your focus out of your mind and into your body, where your true feelings are. Instead of avoiding your emotions by judging yourself or numbing yourself with addictions, become curious about what they are telling you.
Painful feelings — such as anxiety, depression, guilt, shame, anger, aloneness, jealousy, or emptiness — may be a sign that you are abandoning yourself rather than loving yourself. Instead of blaming your partner for these emotions, find a place in your heart that WANTS to take responsibility for them. Once you do this, you'll find that your fears and resulting controlling behavior gradually diminish.
Start learning to love yourself now by taking our free Inner Bonding course.