I often wonder when I listen to my clients complain about their relationships, why has it been so easy to stop talking to their sister or brother for something they said or did at Thanksgiving dinner 3 years ago and yet so difficult to do the same with this other person who has hurt them over and over again.
People have the most difficult time letting go of romantic relationships. They have an easier time distancing themselves from blood relatives than from a complete stranger. Let’s face the facts, your husband, boyfriend, girlfriend or wife is not related to you. Really. They’re not your family. They don’t have any blood relation to you. They didn’t grow up with you. They didn’t share your childhood, your dreams and aspirations or your life until recently. Your best friend probably did most of it (listened to you, heard you cried, advise you, cheered you, supported you) until you replaced them for your significant other (not healthy I tell you but that’s another topic). And maybe you didn’t have the perfect family so you cling to your partner.
Nevertheless you think your bond is so strong and unbreakable because you shared some significant experiences with them that now it’s unbearable for you to let go. Yes, human connections are complex. Having shared happy experiences can create a deep connection. I get it.
Sharing time together, creating memories, celebrations, life-experiences and other romantic moments can and does create a solid connection. Having children with someone is a stout union of course. But if you know it isn’t healthy for you or the children why can’t you break away? Especially if you add the negative experiences to the history you shared (violence, cheating, insults, and lack of empathy, insensitive comments, and a myriad of other things that are making you unhappy).
Then answer may seem cliché but oh so spot-on. The reason you cannot let go of a romantic relationship not matter how bad and destructive it can be, it’s only due to lack of self-love.
You really cannot love anyone unless you love yourself first. Family relationships are protected, secured, you know you’ll have them forever but outsiders are different. You can’t let go because who else will love you? Poor little you. You don’t realize you own strength. Listen: This will not break you.
You need to love yourself first. Self-love has to come over any love for another. That’s the only way to break from harmful patterns e.g. the woman whose husband has been cheating for the last 10 years, she had become pregnant two more times after a brief separation and now she cannot move out because of the children. Does she love the husband or even her children? She doesn’t love herself that’s for sure. Or the woman whose husband attempted suicide because she’s having an affair, and she’s pregnant by this other man. Does the husband love her? The answer is No. He doesn’t love himself.
If you learn to love yourself it means you respect yourself not to be mistreated, not be humiliated, and not be unloved. Your life does not depend on this other person loving you. You will be a better person, a more lovable person if you have respect for yourself. How? I can’t! you might say, so I tell you what I tell my clients Do things for you. Because of you. Enjoy your family and friends again. Remember what you can do on your own. You can and should be your favorite person. Use words wisely, they’re seeds and they can attract something greater. Stop saying you can’t.
Do think and act positive to produce positive things. Trust your ability to build a meaningful life and then you’ll see…,