There is a natural push and pull when it comes to relationships. We are social by nature and humans thrive best in connection with one another. But relationships are hard and when we run into a challenge in them, sometimes our instinct is to back out. So what’s with that? Why are we drawn to them but simultaneously move away from the challenges they bring us?
I recently listened to Maryanne Williams say something that really resonated with me. To paraphrase her here she pretty much asked how can we be in relationship with someone else, if we are only thinking of ourselves? Relationships by nature ask us to give of ourselves, to be vulnerable, to take risks and to find opportunities to move beyond ourselves and be with another. But the reality is that this is scary. It asks us to be open to hurt and discomfort and to risk being rejected. I don’t know about you but I’m not particularly a glutton for pushishment. But I do want healthy and engaging relationships in my life. Don’t you? I think what we tend to forget is that we tend to only focus on our vulnerability, on the risk we are taking but in reality the other person is doing that as well. They are risking something by being honest with us, on being themselves and on opening themselves up to us too. In my work I find it fascinating how quickly couples can move away from recognizing this. When I ask them about how much compassion they show one another amidst their struggles, I often get blank stares. Looks that say, “oh yeah, I’ve forgotten about that.”
I have many relationships in my life that I feel this push and pull. The desire to be with them, to have a close and meaningful relationship but also the pull away from the relationship and more towards a sense of safety, comfort and ease. And while safety, comfort and ease in our lives is not necessarily a bad thing, it can’t be the only thing. As someone (actually many someones) has pointed out to me, very little growth comes when we play it safe and stay comfortable. So this brings me to ask you this -> are there relationships in your life that the push and pull is overwhelming in either direction? Do you have a tendency to lose yourself in a relationship and to compromise on things that don’t sit well with you? Do you have a tendency to self-protect and limit the closeness of your relationships? My sense is that we’ve all done a little of both and my hope is that as you learn and grow about yourself that you find that you can manage both callings - do be an individual and to be in relationship. I’d love to hear if this idea resonates or connects with you. Drop me a comment if it does!
Peace, grace and brave hearts,