Being divorced in my fifties and dating is not like being in a relationship at other times in my life. As I mulled over the prospect of getting back in the game, my mother said, “Don’t be anybody’s girlfriend. It’s a trap.” I was perplexed, so she added, “Being someone’s girlfriend is practice for being in a relationship. You don’t need relationship practice, you need to know who you are before you get into a relationship.” Sage words, indeed, and from a woman who had already celebrated fifty-plus years with my father. So, I began my earnest quest of self.
What Is Driving Your Relationship
First, I asked, “Who am I?” and its co-conspirator, “What do I want?” These questions exposed hidden rules which drive our relationships. They also explained why I stayed stuck in certain patterns of behavior. The problem is that these areas are often in our proverbial blind spots; we can’t see them, but we can observe the damage they are wreaking in our lives. Inherent to being human, is to have one of these drivers as a covert maker of our relationship agendas. Inherent to revealing the true nature of a healthy relationship, is to get curious as to who is driving.
Let’s take a closer look at the top three relationship drivers and how they are expressed:
|“I don’t belong”||Settling for; lack of self-confidence; changing to fit someone else’s desires; smudging boundaries; hiding out||“I don’t fit in”|
“I can’t be myself”
“After I change ___ about myself, then I’ll fit in”
|“I’m not good enough”||Giving up too quickly or staying too long; trying too hard; taking blame; indecisive; not rocking the boat; lack of self-advocacy; low self-esteem||“I’m not worthy”|
“If only I was ___, s/he would want me”
“It’s my fault”
“My opinions don’t count”
|“I’m unlovable”||Self-loathing; lack of deep and/or meaningful connections; isolation||“If you knew who I really was, you’d leave”|
“I’m too hard to love”
“I don’t deserve ___”
These drivers are all based in fear and to some degree they are all in each of us, but one of them is more potent than the others. Fear has us trading off what could be a healthy, fulfilling relationship for one that keeps unhealthy behind the wheel.
How To Take Back The Steering Wheel
Personally, “I don’t belong” is my driver. Unchecked, it has shown up as settling for relationships because I convinced myself that THIS time it would be different and trying so hard to fit in that I hid out and made my life about playing it safe. It ran my life right up until I chose to show up for myself as all of who I really am, and I ripped the wheel from the driver’s hands and took my life back. You can too! Start by getting curious to what you are saying about yourself and your life, then get present to how your driver shows up in your relationships.