A patient recently came in complaining that she cannot find a healthy romantic partner. She said she keeps choosing men who just don’t know how to be happy. Regardless of how well their life is going, they complain about something. And nothing she ever does seems good enough to make up for their unhappiness.
I thought this was ironic because I would have described this woman as a complainer. I have been seeing her for a year. Just about everything in her life has improved since beginning treatment, and yet she is always complaining.
BE THE PERSON I WOULD LIKE TO BE WITH
I don’t know where I got it, but I have always had a rule of thumb that I have pretty much lived by.
My rule of thumb has been: “Be the person I would like to be with.”
So, who would I like to be with? I want a partner who cares more about relating well and cares less about the freedom to express emotions in negative or immature ways.
That’s what I want, so that’s what I do. This worked out really well for me. I attracted my husband, Jake, who cares passionately about the two of us relating in respectful and mature ways.
And, I’m not suggesting that anyone should suppress how they feel. Rather, I see that I have a choice in sharing how I feel. I can choose to express myself in a mature and kinder way, which is the way I would like my partner to express himself. And by doing this myself I feel I have a right to expect this from my partner.
When I do this, I feel better about myself. When I don’t do this, and I don’t always, I feel bad about myself for expressing myself in unhealthy, immature ways, and thus become even unhappier. I do not expect myself to be perfect, but each time I have chosen to step up to my own maturity, I see how our connection grows instead of deteriorating.
CAN I BE THE PERSON I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR?
Another patient, who recently came in while I was writing this blog post, said the same thing I was saying but in a slightly different way, “Can I be the partner I have been looking for?” Yes!
For those of you looking for a healthy romantic partner, you might begin by making a list of qualities you are looking for in someone else, then reassess: Am I manifesting those qualities myself?