20 Difficult Truths About Love + Relationships from a Life Coach
If you’re going through high-highs, low-lows, confusion, starvation, self-loathing, vindication, relief, depression, and victory I have a message: love doesn’t feel like this.
1. Some people put up with a lot of BS in relationships and think they are proving their love and loyalty. But really, they are putting up with BS because they are addicted to the other person, afraid to be alone, or addicted to how they feel as the Saviour, “good one,” or hero/heroine. The shit-taker goes through high-highs, low-lows, confusion, starvation, self-loathing, vindication, relief, depression, and victory. If this is you, I have a message: love doesn’t feel like this.
2. He is smart, has a decent job, has a wonderful family (that loves you), and would make a great dad some day. But he is often emotionally remote, depressed, and can’t see how awesome he is.
She is sweet, sexy, understands your need to zone out on the weekends, and makes your life fun. But she quizzes you about other women, talks constantly about the past “cheaters” in her life, and would rather complain about her lack of confidence than do something about it.
Lack of self-worth from either partner will screw up your relationship, even if there is a lot of potential.
3. Love and partnership come in many forms. You can make a great life with someone who is not your soul mate.
4. The French say that in every relationship there is the “Kisser” and the “Kissed.” That means in every relationship there is a “Nurture” person and a “Freedom” person. These roles can switch, depending on the dynamics of your partnership (in one relationship you might be the Nurture person, in another, the Freedom person). In a healthy relationship, surrendering to your partner’s needs will give you more of what you want. Communicate about this thoroughly. A very important new book on bonding styles: Attached, by Levine and Heller. I’m recommending it to all my clients.
5. The breakup sucks for your ex too, but for different reasons.
You guys shared everything together and he’s got to be hurting as bad as you, right? This will be the first harsh reality check: Something that is happening to both of you won’t be something you can bond on.
6. The next bus leaves in 5 minutes. Translation: If you’ve given it a fair shot and your partner is not the right fit for you or doesn’t treat you well, move the hell on. There is a lot of love, opportunity, and partnership possibilities in this Universe ready and waiting for you. Stop imprisoning yourself in a perpetually mismatched (or abusive, or luke-warm, or dysfunctional) relationship.
7. Loving someone, but not being IN LOVE with them, is a real thing. You have to decide if you can deal with that.
8. You can love someone even if you don’t love yourself. It will be difficult, and it will make for a problematic and arduous relationship, but the statement: ‘You can’t love someone until you love yourself’ is a lie. Work on building love, trust, and respect for yourself…and know this is a process for both you and your partner.
9. ‘No one can make you happy except yourself’ is another lie. OF COURSE people can make you happy. They can make you immensely fulfilled, profoundly directed, ignited, and inspired — sometimes more than you could for yourself. The self-sufficiency pendulum needs to swing back into balance here. I don’t suggest being vampirically co-dependent on others for your sense of personal happiness and security — but hell yes — other people can make you happy…deeply and deliriously so. LET THEM.
10. You can have more than one soul mate in your lifetime.
11. I have coached people through infidelity, sex addiction, money problems, possessiveness, jealousy, anger issues, lack of sex drive, and poor communication skills. These issues were sucking the life out of the relationship, but were not the deal breakers. Most things can be worked through. The #1 relationship killer is the offending partner’s refusal to get help. Refusal looks like: stalling, making excuses, admitting/crying/doing nothing (see #14), and blaming you.
12. The highest level of attraction will occur when you meet someone who closely matches the composite sketch of your primary caretakers (mom and dad). This visceral attraction filter lies in your subconscious. Consciously we want to be happy, subconsciously we want to be healed. It’s called imago matching and accounts for most ‘soul mate’ relationships. Imago matches can be deeply healing, or, if you don’t know you’re in an imago match — devastatingly painful (think Romeo and Juliet).
13. Stop bad-mouthing your ex to others. Every time you create him/her with your language, you are creating an aberration of them in the room. They get invited back into your life the very same way they were invited in when you were creating them with love and excitement….you are conjuring energetically. Love and hate are two sides of the SAME coin. (Hint: Your goal is neutrality.) — Elizabeth Gilbert gives some fine advice here.
14. Don’t be placated by a partner who is a good admitter/apologizer. No one gets a parade for admitting their shit and saying sorry. Credit is given to partners who take action and change their behavior.
15. Sometimes the only purpose of a marriage was to bring some amazing, sweet kids into this world. It takes work, forgiveness, and a lot of grounded-ness to get to this place. If you and your ex can compose co-parenting vows to replace your marriage vows, you can create “one family living in two homes” — which is what my ex and I did. Our kids are happy, well-adjusted and secure, 14 years post-divorce.
16. Do not attempt to marry someone while you are still in love with another.
17. Gramma said, “Spend 4 seasons with someone before you claim to know them and certainly save marriage talk until after a year.” Yeah, I’ve broken this rule before. Sorry gramma….(you were right!)
18. Understanding masculine/feminine energy (and the role you want to embody) is essential to having a successful, connected, and sexually dynamic relationship.
19. A period of time spent alone will be the best gift you can give to yourself. If you resist medicating yourself with alco-, worko-, or Bravo Channel-holism, you will learn to trust yourself deeper, hear the voice of your inner guide clearer, and in the absence of another person telling you how beautiful/smart/clever you are, you will learn to generate this for yourself. Your future self and your future healthy relationship will thank you.
20. Let go when you’re hurting too much. Give up when love isn’t enough. Move on when your gut tells you to. Remember that you have been given this one gorgeous, sparkling, comet-of-a-life and you are free and entitled to choose how to spend it. Don’t wait around for a permission slip, better timing, or a better financial situation… Go for it now.
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Stephanie St.Claire is a writer and personal advisor based in Orange County, California. Her work has been featured in The Huffington Post, Fast Company, Inc., Thought Catalogue, Greatist, Citizens of Culture, Mind Body Green and has been named one of Medium’s Top 100 Writers. She’s on Instagram and is the author of The SuperFoxes’ Guide to Life Planning + Organization