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I’ll Let you in on a little secret…
Good love & healthy intimate relationships did not always come naturally to me. Perhaps that’s why I’ve dedicated my life and career to understanding these things.
As I complete the manuscript for our upcoming book ‘How to Make the Biggest Decision of Your Life’ I’ve been reflecting a lot on what it took to develop the healthy intimate relationship I now share with my fiancé.
Here’s the truth, it took around five months after meeting my partner, Joe, before I could bring myself to date him exclusively. Why? Because I suffered from a classic case of commitment phobia. This meant I spent a lot of time distracting myself from the brilliance of the man in front of me by looking over his shoulder for the next best thing.
At times, the more he made himself available to me, the more I pulled away. His healthy emotional intelligence and open communication was confronting at first but now these are some of my most treasured qualities. In the beginning stages of getting to know each other, I wasn’t sure if we would ever be more than friends. But looking back my healthiest relationships have been those with unassuming counterparts – partners who were not picture perfect but the more I got to know them, I discovered a mind, heart and soul I deeply resonated with.
I had so many conversations with friends about Joe those first five months… Should I invest myself more? Shouldn’t I? What if it doesn’t work out? And the even scarier question to contemplate: what if it does? Eventually a friend of mine gave me a book to read called An Uncommon Bond by Jeff Brown. It is in this book that Jeff writes about what he calls ‘the unavailable/available pattern’ which described me at the time to a T.
That’s when it hit me – five months in. I’d spent all this time looking for the reasons why it wouldn’t work with Joe, rather than the reasons why it would! This point became even clearer when I was having dinner with a close friend and we were discussing the qualities we really wanted in a life partner. As I shared my core values, I realised Joe actually ticks all of those boxes, so why am I holding myself back?
Something shifted in me after that conversation…When I saw Joe again I started to look at him differently. In the five months we had been casually dating and hanging out as friends I’d gotten to know him reasonably well. From that, I already knew we had aligned vision and values, that he was emotionally intelligent and someone I genuinely enjoyed spending time with. He was good at making me laugh and I had always enjoyed his hugs. All in all, we were very compatible.
And as I focused more and more on those facts, the flood gates flew open!
My appreciation and attraction towards him climbed quickly and steadily as I opened myself up more, invested more and allowed myself to get to know him on a more intimate level. Turns out that chemistry does not have to be apparent right from the beginning.
Can you relate to the unavailable/available pattern?
Do you find yourself focusing on the reasons why a relationship is unlikely to work, rather than the reasons why it could? This is something many people struggle with, particularly if we have grown up in an environment where our caretakers were physically or emotionally unavailable to us.
Add to this the complexity of online dating which introduces us to so much more choice when it comes to finding a partner and it’s easy to get stuck. This can leave many of us wondering when to stop and invest. What if there is something better that might be just a few more swipes away?
The thing is, when we have some anxiety around building an intimate relationship with another person, our mind will often encourage us to keep on looking rather than giving a good potential partner in front of us a true go. Or, it will send us chasing someone who a part of us knows will never go anywhere because they are, in one way or another, unavailable themselves. At least we can then say ‘we tried’.In order to break this pattern we need to learn to discern between real red flags and the false ones our mind sometimes creates to prevent us from confronting our underlying fear of intimacy.
Our book ‘How to make the Biggest Decision of your Life’ was published by Hachette in February 2021.
In this book my psychiatrist father and I provide thought, insight and guidance around what to consider when choosing a life partner.
Although the processes behind love, attraction and partner selection are complex, there are several key insights that can be understood and applied to making this big decision. In this book we give people the tools to co-create healthier relationships and avoid divorce.
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Co-author of 'How to Make the Biggest Decision of Your Life' and online dating, attraction & relationship coach committed to helping you attract a healthy, sustainable and passionate relationship.