Being one half of a couple can be wonderful, inspiring, heart-poundingly lovely.
Romance! Compliments! Someone to share inside jokes with while giggling into your cocktail!
Being single can be thrilling, invigorating, heart-poundingly lovely.
Flirting with charming strangers! First kisses! Going wherever you want, whenever you want!
While single-ing and partnering both have their merits, like anything in life, they each come with many, many opportunities for heartbreak and disappointment. The happiest, healthiest relationship will still have its share of fights and even the most committed singleton will have moments of loneliness or doubt.
But if we know this – if we can acknowledge that these struggles are just part of the ride – they’re so, so much easier to navigate. No one can ever promise that you won’t be hurt in a relationship but here are four ways to hurt less.
1. “Be” More
Being is our natural state and when we show up as humans being, magic happens.
Being allows us to navigate life and relationships as our authentic selves, free of hangups, emotional baggage, or expectations.
Yet in the beginning stages of relationships, many of us focus on showcasing our Very Best Selves, attempting to win love and affection. We become ridiculously, painfully focused on doing because we want to make a good impression
But it can be hard to be and do simultaneously – it’s difficult to be your quietly funny, book-loving introverted self when you’re trying to convince someone you’re a life-of-the-party type. In every relationship there is work, but there isn’t much we have to actively do.
2. It will probably end
Working as a therapist + coach, I pretty regularly have clients who avoid getting into relationships because they’re preemptively afraid of heartbreak. Shockingly enough, this is not a recipe for a fun, fulfilling dating life.
So many of us put too much pressure on ourselves, the people we’re dating, and our sweet, fragile, fledgling relationships. We’re tied to the idea that The Right Relationship will last forever and we want that forever to start immediately. But the truth is – nothing lasts forever, everything (everything!) is temporary.
Post-breakup we might torture ourselves with the belief that we failed. But really? Anytime you’ve loved you’ve succeeded. Tweet this!
Sometimes the purpose of a relationship is to tear down your walls, shake you awake, reveal new parts of yourself. The right-for-right-now partner can be a mirror that exposes new dimensions of you, parts that you may relish in or shrink from.
They give you the opportunity to notice personal obstacles. And then actually do something about them. They can force you to your own leading edge.
But all that emotional fever does not guarantee that someone you’re dating is your life partner. Often riveting romances grip us in their clutch just to introduce the prospect of ruthless awareness and introspection.
Relationships can be our greatest teachers; it is often through them that we discover the most about ourselves. Each relationship will run its course, some in a few weeks, months, years, or even a lifetime. This is the unknown that we all leap into.
3. Realize that things change
We’re living, breathing organisms – subject to the changing tides of emotion and circumstance. It can be emotionally crippling to get too attached to the “status quo” – not just in your romantic relationships but in life. Change is inevitable.
Next week your partner might wake up and want to change careers, move to the east coast, or have kids (like, soon). Can you allow space for that? Could you create a new life with him while he pursued something new? Or would you have to lovingly, respectfully wish her well and take a different path?
And, of course, things will change for you – your passions, your career, your family, your health. In a perfect world, your partner will welcome and support your changes but make peace with the fact that he might choose a path of his own.
4. Remember Buddha’s wisdom: “We lose what we cling to”
I am a firm believer that the universe will not let us hold on to anything that’s no longer serving us. Tweet this!
Sometimes this comes in the form of an out-of-the-blue breakup, a layoff, or an unexpected expense.
When it’s no longer serving our higher good, it will be removed from our lives regardless of our preference otherwise. If you’re over-attached to someone out of fear of singledom, that clinging and clutching will cause you even greater pain when the relationship ends or shifts in another direction.
I call this “white knuckling” vs. “open palm.” When you “white knuckle” a situation you’re holding something in a tight fist and there is a desperate energy behind it. When your situation changes, that thing you were clinging to feels like it’s being ripped from your clutches. When you hold the situations in your life in an open palm, they are free to go and flow with acceptance and your life is virtually pain free.
We all have the opportunity to surrender to the natural flow of relationships and to find happiness and satisfaction in love – whether we’re attached or not. Embrace change and step into the world with an open heart and open palms.