The end of a relationship always appears to feel like a failure. But what if we looked at it from the other side of the journey? When we are with the ultimate partner of our life, we will look back at these test and trial relationships as training exercises. If we love with all of our hearts, not holding back, not shielding or armoring, we can fall fully and if we fail, fail without regret.
Fall Faster, Fail Faster
If a lifetime relationship is your goal, you’re going to have to turn over a lot of rocks, and maybe kiss a few frogs. That’s just the way it is. You might have thought your previous relationship was “the one.” Or perhaps you stayed in an “okay” relationship just so you wouldn’t have to be alone. I get it. Being alone can suck. But you know what sucks more? Being in a relationship and feeling lonely. Being in a relationship and asking for what you need and not being able to negotiate a solution.
I’ve learned in the last 5 years or so, that I fall in love with great energy and optimism. I attach well. Maybe not 100% securely, but I attach firmly. I’m a good attacher. What I think this means for me is I am ready and willing to leap full-force into the next relationship. Each time I am fearless (maybe a bit overoptimistic) in igniting the fire and watching how we burn together.
When things don’t work out it’s a bummer, but it’s not a failure. Let’s see why.
- I found someone on this planet to truly be loved and loving
- I gave 100% of my attention and romantic energy to one person
- In that exclusive partnership, I pushed against the boundaries (boundaries that I had put and place, and perhaps boundaries that my partner had in place)
- In loving completely, I have been able to ask for what I want. “I’m committed, so I really want this to work out, here’s what I need to move forward.”
- By being 100% committed and 100% honest, we moved towards a relationship with speed and intention.
- Things didn’t work out for some reason (timing, unresolved trauma, mismatch) but we gave it a full shot. We burned brightly while it lasted.
How Do You Burn?
It’s important to know what lights your fire. And I mean, beyond the hot bod and the pretty face. What are the deeper qualities that can’t be expressed or explored via an online dating profile? What issues have come up to bite you in the ass? Are you willing to let those issues go? Or have you done some work on your own issues to make sure you’re not the trapped partner?
What I’ve learned about my fire:
- I need more than great chemistry and sexual acrobatics
- Beyond the bedroom is where the R gets put in the Relationship
- How do you both handle disagreements?
- Can you support your partner when they are struggling with something of their own?
- Do you both share in the mundane tasks of housekeeping, child-rearing, planning the entertainment, or weekend activities?
- My waking mindset is one of joy, whistling and singing songs, I need a partner who also walks a joyful path.
- The deep talks are great, but the deep actions are what we’re both looking for
- In fully committing, I may ask for what I need.
- By asking for my heart’s desire, I’m being vulnerable and I will pay close attention to your response or lack of response
- When we don’t match up, it’s because of some inflexible disagreement, not because we (or I) didn’t go for it.
- I’m gonna GO FOR IT, so buckle up and get ready for the fire
- If we flameout, let’s flameout BIG! Because if we’re a HIT it’s gonna be HUGE.
It’s Going To Be Great
Even in my misses, I’ve had some amazingly fulfilling and healing relationships. By maintaining my perspective (Long-term or no-go) I’ve been able to push into a relationship and get to the heart of the matter rather efficiently. It’s not that I’m seeking a problem, I am seeking the answer. I am working to solve the rubric of us. I’m looking to build a WE. A WE container that becomes our life together.
If you want a long-term and lasting relationship, you’re going to have to go for it. You’re going to have to risk your heart and allow yourself to attach and fall in love. It’s going to be great. You have to lean in with the anticipation that it’s GOING TO BE GREAT. If you don’t have that optimism and momentum going in, you’re setting yourself up for failure. No lasting relationship has come from partially committed and semi-optimistic people.
Either Be 100% Or Be Gone
In a couple of my post-divorce relationships, there have been misses. Perhaps I wanted something deeply, asked for it repeatedly, and still did not see any progress towards a solution. Perhaps there was a layer or two of deep trauma between us that could not be bridged. Perhaps there was simply a timing problem. But in every single of of them, I have jumped 100% and without fear into the process of discovering if there was going to be a future for us as lovers.
I want my partner to have the same unfettered heart. Give me 100% of your heart and your trust, and I am here waiting to meet you. I want to meet you on equal footing. I want to give your desires and demands the same weight as my own needs. I want to co-create a WE container that is bigger than both of us. The WE of us should be an exponential uplift for both of us.
Seeking the Ultimate WE
I am a big fan of relationship-building. I think working on your relationship is part of life. There is no set-and-forget partnership. Life doesn’t work that way. If you’re willing to build a WE with someone, you’re ready to give your heart over to the process or growing, stretching, and learning the limits of your flexibility. Everyone has limits. And it’s possible you’re requirements and desires won’t match up in the end. BUT, if you asked for what you needed, if you gave 100% of your energy and attention to the relationship, and it still didn’t work out… Well, you can walk away hopeful and unscathed. Sure, there is sadness at any failure, but it is soon replaced by an overwhelming energy and optimism to TRY AGAIN.
Let’s try again. Let’s keep trying until we MATCH with all-caps. Let’s not consider our breakups as failures, but as hurdles along the track towards the winner’s podium. Let’s keep striving for the well-attached partnership we’re dreaming of. Settling at this point in our lives is just going to postpone the inevitable crash. If you don’t settle, if you don’t hedge your bets, if you go for all you want and need, you’re going to either succeed or fail. But you’re not going to second guess the failure when you loved and lived alongside this person with 100% dedication to creating a partnership.
We have to create a partnership. A soulmate is a nice concept, but there’s a lot of work that goes into becoming a soul-connected partner. It’s not about Enneagram numbers, Meyers-Briggs types, or even love languages. Finding and keeping love is about going to the well every single time. And when you find fire pouring accelerant on it by really, fully, and truly, asking for what you want. You must go for it to get it.
Let’s go for it.
As a certified life coach, I’ve been helping men and women find lives after divorce. If you’d like to chat for 30-minutes about your dating/relationship challenges, I always give the first 30-session away for free. LEARN ABOUT COACHING WITH JOHN. There are no obligations to continue. But I get excited every time I talk to someone new. I can offer new perspectives and experiences from my post-divorce journey. Most of all, I can offer hope.
- The Four Agreements – Don Miguel Ruiz
- Braving the Wilderness – Brené Brown
- Single Dad Seeks: Dating Again After Divorce – John McElhenney
More articles from The Whole Parent:
- Dad’s Divorce Journey: 9-years Later I Still Feel the Loss of Kid-time
- Heal Your Heart from the Fear and Loss by Opening with Vulnerability
- Self-Care and Appreciation: Can I Love All of Myself Right Now?
- 3 Required Traits for Building a Lasting Relationship
- The Big Three Marriage Issues and the Hope of Counseling
- 8 Lessons from My First 2 Divorces