Defining Your Relationship, Key Features Part 2



padlock with heart against misty blue background with Golden Gate Bridge tower in distance
Is Your Relationship Mutual in All Ways Including How You Both Define What You Are Doing Together?

Part 2: Key Feature #2:
I’ve learned to not make assumptions when it comes to relationships, so some of you may find my questions a bit silly at first.  They aren’t, though.  In fact, I’m probably going to rock your boat a little bit.  I’d like you to stay with me, though, all the way through.  It will be worth it to you, if past experience holds.

Consider your past and current relationships when you answer this question.  Do both of you agree that you are in love?’ The answer should be a resounding ‘yes.’  If one of you is saying something like ‘I really love so-and-so, but I’m not in love with her,” then that is a big, no-kidding, problem.  This thing the two of you have going may be called a relationship, but it is not a mutual one, and so by definition, it is not a healthy relationship, and has no hope of developing into an awesome, intimate, satisfying relationship.

Key Feature 2 says a relationship is always mutual, you both define the relationship, and you are in total agreement with each other that you are in love, and what that means to you. One person doesn’t get to dictate how the relationship is viewed.  One person can’t make the other feel differently than she does.

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In other words, there is absolute agreement on what is love for you two, what is commitment, what your plans for the future are for the relationship, and so on.  There is never an imbalance in the power dynamic, or in who benefits by the relationship.  It is mutual in all ways, including how you both define what you are doing together.

For those of us who have found ourselves in a relationship where one person wanted more than the other was prepared to give, it may have taken a moment before we came to realize that it probably didn’t feel very good to either person.  The one who was in love and wished the other person felt the same way, was likely operating on the assumption that if she just waited long enough, or was a good enough girlfriend, lover, or provider, or if she bought enough presents, doted enough–even demanded often enough–then the not-in-love partner would eventually come around and fall in love, too.

Does Your Relationship Mean the Same Thing to You as It Does to Her?

Crumbs, ladies.  Crumbs and codependence.  You know what codependence is, right?  It is adjusting your whole life, including how you feel and how you present yourself in the world, based solely on what you think the other person wants or is willing to offer.

We have likely all of us succumbed to codependence at some point, but for some of us codependence has become an habitual thing.  A really painful, habitual thing.  If you are hanging out in a semi-relationship with someone you are madly in love with but who only sorta loves you, and you’re staying because you’re sure you can convince her to love you more, I strongly, and with much compassion and caring, support you to take a good hard look at that.  Ask yourself some questions about what you’re doing.

How did you end up in this situation, beloved?  I’m fairly certain you didn’t head out one day, saying “I’m going to go find me a girlfriend who won’t love me the way I deserve to be loved.”  Of course you didn’t.

But that’s where you are, regardless.  What makes that okay with you?  Because you are either settling for crumbs, or you believe you have more power than you actually do.

Think You Might Be Codependent? Help Yourself with Self-Help Books–And Al-Anon

The truth is, you can’t make anyone feel anything.  That will be tough information to swallow for some of you, the fact that we can’t control anyone’s feelings but our own.  But there it is.  Trust me on this. You don’t need to have an alcoholic in your life to qualify for membership in Al-Anon or CODA if you truly believe you can control how someone else feels about you by how you feel about her.

If you happen to be the one who loves-her-but-is-not-in-love with her, what are you doing?  Do you really believe you will eventually come to feel the same about her that she feels about you?  In this life-time, I mean?  And if you don’t believe that, what is she to you?  A place-holder until someone better comes along?  Or are you just afraid to be alone and you’re using her so you won’t have to face your fears?  Are either of those positions honest?  Can you really feel good about yourself knowing this is what you are doing?

It’s really very simple.  If you want to be in a relationship with a woman who is honest, someone you can trust, someone you can know deeply to the core of her being, someone who can genuinely return your feelings, then you have to be that person, too.  Honest.  Trustworthy.  Hiding nothing.  Using no one.  Until you are all that, you won’t find it in another.  Like attracts like.

Like Attracts Like–What Do You Bring To the Table in Your Bid for the Kind of Relationship You Really Want?

If you are in an imbalanced relationship, it will be painful to both of you, for different reasons.  It’s not that there is nothing redeemable in the relationship, or that there have been no good feelings or good times.  There probably have been.   And you might really care for each other.  But if you are looking for the relationship of your dreams, this one isn’t it.  In all likelihood it isn’t going to turn into something beautiful—except for, perhaps, a beautiful friendship.  But even that won’t happen unless you end it before someone gets too hurt to salvage a friendship out of it.

If you are currently in one of these imbalanced associations, it is a fabulous opportunity to do some exploration into your own beliefs about relationships, what it is you really want, and why you are willing to settle for something that is less than what you really want.  If you are with someone because you don’t want to be alone, or because she is providing you something you aren’t providing for yourself but could, here is an opportunity to get really honest with yourself.  What beliefs do you have about yourself that are in operation when you make decisions about this kind of relationship? Do you feel good about yourself when you think about all that you have done, or not done, regarding this kind of relationship?

I’m only asking you to think about things, and to be really honest with yourself.  You are not required to talk about this with anyone (unless you want to) or to take any action (unless you want to).  This is about the exploration that is necessary to grow as a woman, into the kind of woman who can attract the partner and relationship you’d really like to have.  This does not happen overnight.

Remember, dearest, we all do what we know how to do, and when we know better, we do better.  Be gentle on yourself for the choices you have made, because you likely did only what you knew how to do.  However, if you have decided to put your feet on the path toward the relationship you truly long for, it is time to pay attention to your choices and your reasons for them.  It is through self-knowledge and insight that we gain the data needed to move forward in a different way.  Why?

Because like attracts like.

Part 3 coming soon…

Author: Leah Cochrane

Leah Cochrane, MA, MS, Relationship Coach and licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (California #40263) whose mission it is to provide support, education, coaching and mentoring to LGBTQ couples and single people seeking meaningful relationships, intimacy and lasting love. Leah is a strong proponent of pre-commitment counseling and the Radical Romance* and Radical Marriage* programs.