Updated: Jul 1, 2020
Does this fear of losing yourself in an intimate relationship resonate for you? It’s such a common fear. If so, I invite you to do some self-inquiry:
* What specifically are you afraid of losing?
* Who are you afraid of becoming?
* What clues would you have that you are in fact losing yourself?
* How can you discern the difference between losing yourself and expanding yourself?
That last question is a biggie.
Because relationships DO change us.
We must expand ourselves in order to honor the needs of another person, in order to be influenced by another person, in order to coordinate a life with another person.
But this process of interdependence needs to be more intuitive than logical. If you start keeping score of how often you accommodated them versus how often they accommodated you, you’re gonna end up really unhappy. And you’re not gonna particularly sexually engaged with each other!
Cuz the transactional and the erotic don’t go so well together.
I wrote an article for Psychology Today for White couples who are struggling to talk together about race. I was especially thinking of White heterosexual couples where she is feeling more activated and urgent than he is feeling. I want her to lean into all of her empathy and guilt and rage. I don’t want her to dampen her rawness because it frightens or overwhelms him. If she does that, she may well solve the moment but she risks growing resentful.
Rather, I want him to expand in order to honor her outrage. I want him to get curious about it. Hold space for it. Learn from it. View it as an asset. A learning tool.
The world needs her fire.
And that fire, by the way, is not wholly unrelated to the vitality and passion she brings to your relationship anyways. Research by the Gottman Institute has found that the greatest skill for men who love women is to be able to stay present in the face of her negative affect.
Men, do not shrink. Do not debate. Lean in. Listen. Learn. Allow her perspective to expand your own.
Use the crucible of your relationship to grow you. Goodness knows that we need people who are connected to their hearts more than ever.
If you missed the live interview on Instagram, you can catch it here.