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ERP 091: Is “trying harder” the best option in relationship? [Transcript]

ERP 091: Is Trying Harder The Best Option In Relationship? [Transcript]

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Welcome to The Empowered Relationship Podcast, helping you turn relationship challenges into opportunities and setting you up for relationship success. Your host, Dr. Jessica Higgins, is a licensed psychologist and relationship coach who shares valuable tips, tools and resources for you to dramatically improve your relationship.

This podcast is 100% ad-free. To support this show, please subscribe and write a review today. Here is your host.

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Hi, thank you for joining today’s episode. Today’s episode is 91. This episode is title “Is Trying Harder The Best Option In Relationship?”

Before we get started, I just want to appreciate your tuning in and spending this time with me. On the Empowered Relationship Podcast we talk about how to improve the quality of our connection in relationship, knowing that that takes a level of investment, awareness and thoughtfulness, so we’re in the practice of improving our relationship, we’re in the practice of doing relationship consciously. That requires, at times, navigating some of the upset, the challenges and the conflict. As we attempt to navigate that, we wanna do that more effectively and more skillfully, and that comes with awareness, consciousness and being more informed.

The dialogue, the conversation that happens on this podcast is trying to help you be more equipped, better prepared to navigate this landscape of long-term, lasting intimacy.

I am on this path with you. Everything I talk about I contemplate, I share examples from my relationship, I also practice everything I talk about…

One of the other things that I love about this podcast is that listeners submit questions, and I do my best to answer them from my experience, my training, my education and my heart, knowing that we learn from each other. I also love that some of you have reached out and have had the courage to be a guest on the show, while receiving live laser coaching with me, as we explore a very intimate aspect of your relationship dynamic and hope to offer a next step for you, offer some guidance, some support and some awareness around what you’re challenged with and helping you get that support to move in the direction that is more effective, is more in alignment of what you’re wanting to cultivate.

Those of you that have been on the show – again, I honor the work you’ve done on the show and I actually have a few people who are reaching out to me now and I’m scheduling with, so stay tuned for those episodes. If you wanna learn about how to submit a question or how to be a guest on the show and receive live laser coaching or to engage in deepening your practice in any of these principles that we talk about on this podcast, you can find me on my website, which is DrJessicaHiggins.com. You can click on Contact and you can find the ways to reach me there.

Again, the biggest intention is to help you cultivate a happy, lasting, healthy, connected relationship. Today’s topic is “Is Trying Harder The Best Option In Relationship?”

This question comes from two listeners that have submitted questions, and I’m gonna offer you six tips in response to some of the larger themes that I think happen when people are stuck in this pattern of feeling like they’re trying harder, and it’s just not working.

Both of these listeners would like to remain anonymous. I’m going to read a little bit about what they wrote to me. I’m gonna read both of them, and then I’m gonna go into the six tips that I have in response.

The first listener writes:

I often listen to your podcast and try to learn from it as much as possible. Your podcast has provided me an ample amount of knowledge and made me flexible to various aspects of being in a relationship. I thank you for that.

My question is, I came across a girl on a matrimony website and we have seen each other only 3 times in past 9 months of knowing each other, as we live in different states. The last time we met we talked about trust issues and building communication skills and whether she still wanted to continue seeing me.

It was good – meaning our relationship – for a week after our talk, but then she went back to ignoring my texts and phone calls. I understand she is busy with three jobs (one full-time job, two part-time jobs, including her accounting business) but without getting acknowledgement for my texts or calls for days, sometimes weeks or no reply at all, I feel agitated, building tension between us.

I don’t know how to tackle this situation as I want to give her space, but feel I might lose her if I’m not in frequent touch. Your help is highly appreciated.

Listener, thank you so much for submitting this question. I understand how disconcerting it is to not feel the person that you’re interested in exploring relationship with be responsive, just having to tolerate the lack of engagement and reply, and really wondering and very uncertain about her level of investment. I have six tips to offer you to consider as you move forward in making decisions.

Before I offer those, I’m gonna read the second listener’s question. It’s different than your situation; this listener has a different experience, however I do think there is some underlying guiding principles that I feel like my tips are really focused on.

The second listener’s question, she writes:

I’m pretty new to your podcasts, and they’re currently helping me through a pretty confusing and difficult time. I’m in a wonderful relationship with a man whom is everything I would want on paper. I actually wrote out a list of all the characteristics that I would want in a man a few months before we started dating – he checks off all of them!

The problem is lately we’ve grown into this odd dynamic that I don’t really know how to explain. The relationship started as the most supportive, loving, healthy relationship that I’ve ever been in. However, lately it feels forced and inauthentic.

We have had a few hiccups with some health problems. We’ve also had some discussions (never really arguments) about his friends, who were initially not really that welcoming towards me and they still make me feel pretty uncomfortable on most occasions with crass behavior and crude comments about pretty much everything. However, my boyfriend has never engaged in this behavior or even encouraged it – at least not around me or to my knowledge.

Although we interact very healthily – and if anyone saw us from the outside, they would likely say we are the perfect couple – there’s this unnamable tension that exists and makes me feel more and more disconnected with him every day.

I’m worried that maybe I choose to be in a relationship with him for the wrong reasons – the logical side of my brain tends to rule my decisions – and now am paying the price.

Before I go , I just want to say thanks for providing a wonderful show that’s helping me to get more in touch with my own feelings and take control of my desires and needs in relationship.

Thank you, listener, for posing this question. I can empathize with — I imagine the excitement of meeting someone that checks off all the marks on your list, and that you’re exploring relationship with someone that is truly in alignment with what you want and what you value, and how uncomfortable it feels when there’s this tension and this disconnect, and what that’s like for you. My tips, I hope, will be able to offer you some guidance as well, navigating your next steps.

Before I go into the six tips that I have to offer you today, I wanna note that both of these questions have to do with dating. However, the tips that I’m offering I think also relate to the experience of feeling like you’re trying hard in your marriage or in your long-term partnership, and it doesn’t feel like it’s having the result that you’re looking for, and that can feel frustrating, it can feel scary and disconcerting.

There’s so much to cover here; I’m gonna just give you six to work with, and of course, if you’re interested in engaging deeper with these principles or other principles that I’ve talked about on this show, please feel free to reach out to me. Again, you can find me on my website, which is DrJessicaHiggins.com, or you can e-mail me at jessica@drjessicahiggins.com.

The six tips that I have to offer you when you’re feeling the experience of needing to try harder or that you’ve been trying really hard in relationship and it’s just not giving you the result that you’re looking for.

The first tip is to be aware of compromising yourself or your values. I say this because when we’re in the experience of trying harder there is a lot of effort, and when I think about trying harder, there’s a level of force in it; there’s a level of pushing or making it happen, versus allowing it to happen. And there’s a distinction there.

I know for myself, when I’m very true to myself, when I’m very aligned with what my integrity of my values and I’m honoring myself, I feel way more relaxed, I feel way more centered and balanced, and when I relate to other people, I feel like I have a ground to stand on. But when I’m trying hard, it’s either I’m outside of myself, I’m maybe — not pretending that I’m not myself, but I’m wanting to control the situation, I’m wanting to be seen in a particular way, I’m wanting to be viewed in a particular way, which is really understandable in the first few stages of relationship. We are wanting to put our best foot forward, we’re wanting to be attractive to the person we’re interested in, we want them to see the best parts of ourself, and that’s natural. Yet, if we get too far outside of ourselves or trying too hard, we could find ourselves in a situation that’s uncomfortable or is not congruent with what’s important to us.

I have a client who has struggled in the dating realm in his life and he has a pattern of choosing women that like to party, yet what he really longs for is a sensitivity, an authenticity and a genuine connection. Stereotypically, someone who’s partying, that’s probably not their number one value – honesty and sincerity and connection. They’re more interested in having a good time, playing, dancing, flirting… Whatever, I’m stereotyping here. But if we look at what we’re experiencing and is it aligned with our values, are we doing things that aren’t really true to who we are? Are we saying yes to a dynamic that doesn’t represent what we’re most interested in?

The first listener, he said “I was looking on a matrimony site.” So it wasn’t a dating site, it was an actual site with the intention of getting married. There’s some value of commitment, value of lifelong partnership in the way of marriage. So if in the dating realm he’s getting messages and cues from the person he’s interested in that that’s not what they’re wanting, there’s a decision there. Do we want the same things?

I lead with this first tip because it’s so tempting to wanna justify and rationalize why continuing to pursue relationship is a good idea, even though it’s at a cost or we’re sacrificing something that’s of high value. “Maybe she’ll come around”, or “Maybe he’s really not like that.” We wanna give people the benefit of the doubt where we see the potential. I’m gonna talk about those in a minute, but I wanna just invite a real clarity and honesty about “Do I feel good about myself when I’m with you? Does this way of relating honor what’s most important to me? Does it value what I stand for, what means a lot to me?”

I don’t remember if I shared this story or not, but when I first started dating — actually no, I take that back… I was just getting to know my now husband and we were just friends, and I think it was like the second time I had seen him, and he was teasing me. He wanted to go… I can’t remember what he invited me to go do – to go out to eat, or to go rollerblading, or some combination, and I actually had to move; I was in the process of moving from one state to the other and I had a lot to do, and I just wasn’t available.

His teasing basically was like he invited me and then he was almost like “Just kidding!” I was just like, “What are you telling me?!” and I called him out on it, basically. I don’t know if I called him out on it at that moment or if later… I was just like, “Look, I totally appreciate getting to know you… I just want to let you know that” — I can’t remember what I said, but I basically said that type of gaminess or that… I feel bad calling it “gaminess”, but the kind of mixed message – I don’t enjoy that; that’s not something I’m interested in. And that’s a total not attractive thing to do when you’re dating, so I’m not suggesting to use that language or to use that example, but I’m telling you that I was very honest and very clear, almost too much… I wouldn’t advise any of my clients necessarily to be that curt about their priority of honesty and directness in communication, but it was where I was at; I was being real, I was being genuine, and that was important for me, so I felt like I was in my integrity and that wasn’t a priority for me. I wanted a relationship that was genuine, that was real and that was cutting through the BS, so that’s what I lead with.

On this point (number one) I’m inviting you to consider what is of importance to you, to honoring yourself, and what’s important in your value in life and in relationship, so that you can be in integrity, you can lead with what’s most important to you, because I can guarantee you the relationship that’s based on that will be congruent with that. But if you hide it or if you’re not honest about it, it’s harder to bring it into the fold, it’s harder to prioritize it. And I get that this is tricky for guys, because sometimes guys definitely in the dating dynamic want to woo, win over, or sometimes women play hard to get, and there are these games that people play in dating. I don’t have anything against that; I think the flirting, I think some of the playing hard to get and the sexual tension – all of that can be really fun. And when it comes to “What do we want? What are we creating together?” that at some point you guys are honest about that, and that you’re honoring yourself, you’re not compromising what’s important to you. Because if you wanna play and you wanna party – by all means, that’s what you get to do. But if you’re wanting authentic, genuine relationship, then I would want you to honor that. Because it does not feel good to undermine, or sacrifice, or compromise what’s true for you. People typically would feel bad about themselves.

It makes me think about that quote, I think it was in the movie — I wish I remember what movie it was. If you guys ever hear me kind of wonder and you know, drop me a line; I would love to kind of circle the loop on this. But I remember there was a movie, and there was a woman who was basically leaving her significant other; I don’t remember the movie, so I don’t know if they were married or boyfriend/girlfriend… But she was basically saying, “I love myself more.” Because he was like, “You don’t love me?” and it was like, “Yes, I love you, and I wanna honor my integrity. I love my life more. I can’t live like this anymore. I can’t compromise what’s true for me anymore.”

Number two – find balance. This relates to number one, this concept of if we’re trying really hard, we can be reaching beyond ourselves. Maybe we’re pretending to be a little smarter or a little more financially well off, or our family is a little more well-balanced… Whatever, we could pretend; we’re reaching a little beyond what’s true. Or we could be reaching in the way of pursuing. In one of the first listener’s questions he was saying, “I send text messages, I call, I e-mail… I sometimes don’t hear from her for days, or at all.” So there’s this extension, this reaching; it’s almost like I’m offering to you again and again and there’s no reciprocation.

In the past I think I’ve used the analogy of throw and catch – you have a ball and you have two people, and one person starts the game by throwing the ball to the other person. Well, the goal is to catch the ball and then throw it back, and you throw back and forth. Each person catches it and then returns the ball. That’s how you play catch – you back and forth throw the ball. And you’re playing a game, right? You’re enjoying playing catch. Well, it’s really difficult to do this is nobody is throwing the ball back. You can’t play catch with someone who doesn’t throw the ball back. It would look like… I’m getting this imagery of one person throwing these balls and this person standing there and they have like 20 balls around them, and they haven’t picked one up and thrown it back, or they haven’t caught one. That’s usually not what we’re looking for or aiming for.

Again, there’s this dating dynamic and situationally, I get, this person was saying this woman he’s pursuing is really busy and circumstantially not as available… So there’s a recommendation there to give yourself, if you feel inclined and still feel in your integrity to pursue and that it’s worth the risk of being a little outside of yourself here, it’s not fully in balance with what you’re wanting — if you’re wanting marriage, that means someone saying yes to you, right? So it’s not that, but you’re hopeful. You’re taking a risk that that person will be that for you.

I would give yourself a period of time. How much are you willing to extend, if you’re not in that flow of give and receive? That balance of “I’m being me and I’m showing you me… Where are you? And you’re showing me you”, right? That balance, that give and take.

Relationship – you want your partner to engage with you, to be present with you and invested with you. Relationship comes from a co-creation of two people contributing to a dynamic. I don’t know how you have a relationship with one person carrying it all. It’s just one person extending and extending, but the dynamic and the flow is really limited there.

I think when there is a mediocre investment on one person’s side and then a real strong investment on the other person’s side, I think this can really be off-centered. I think it can lead to weird dynamics of power issues, commitment issues and resentment and hurt; not feeling really cared about, not feeling like a priority, not feeling like the person really loves you. I get that this is not pure. Anytime I’m giving you tips, there’s a lot of complexities to this and it’s not an equation that’s super simple, there’s a lot of things to factor.

But in this number two, I’m more wanting you to consider the balance. Are you in flow of the give and receive? Are you connected to yourself? Are you allowing your partner to meet you?

I can tell you even in my marriage there’s times where if my husband and I are not understanding each other, I will have the pattern of working pretty hard to understand him, and I will name it sometimes. I’ll just say, “I’m working really hard to try to understand you. Are you willing/interested in joining me on this, or helping me understand?” Because I will recognize sometimes I’m trying harder or I’m working harder at it than he is, and I’ll just name it because I really wanna be coming from the place of balance and centeredness.

Again, this is not a perfect thing. Balance is always a process, it’s like a teeter-totter, right? It’s the game of always trying to be in balance; it’s not something we typically achieve and then we arrive and it’s always in balance. It’s something we’re practicing.

Number three – this is very similar to point number two and number one, they are very related. Number three is allow space for your partner to be in. Allowing them to choose you, say yes to you and step to you. You want them to be with you, you want them to be in relationship with you, because I think, again, that dynamic of reaching or extending or being more than who you are, trying to be more than who you are leads to this feeling of not trusting yourself, feeling desperate at times. That creates a foundation of inauthenticity, when not meeting and contributing to something together that we’re both a yes to.

The way that I’m talking about this makes it sound like this is a quick process, or that this should happen easily and effortlessly. I wanna just say that this takes time, it takes a building… It doesn’t happen overnight.

It took my husband and I years to create a solid foundation. I think we continue, even after 10+ years, to invest in and continue to strengthen the foundation of our being in and our engagement of what we’re cultivating together. Even from the very beginning stages though, with the intention of doing it, trying to gain clarity around where you both are, what are we creating, is more of the invitation here. Not that it just happens and it’s seamless, and that if it doesn’t happen it’s not the right fit – no. I think in both of these situations it’s unknown.

I’m more wanting you guys to pay attention to some of these aspects and be in the conversation and explore, experiment. I cannot tell you how many people I have worked with that have been in their relationship for a long time, and I ask them questions about their shared understanding, their shared agreements, their shared commitments, and they’re looking at me with these blank faces, like “We’ve never talked about it. We’ve just assumed or expected, we’ve never been explicit about it.”

Again, my intention is for you to have tools in your tool bag. I want you to be prepared, I want you to be mindful and thoughtful, so that you can set your relationship up for success. I’m saying this because I don’t want you to be hearing me talk about some of this and think, “Oh, this isn’t happening… I’m not doing it right”, and feeling like it’s hard and it’s hopeless. No, I wanna give you some things to think about so that you can start orienting towards this more authentic, aligned relationship.

It does take effort. Something that you love and that means the most to you, that you have the most pride in probably took some intention and thoughtfulness and mindfulness, right? To have this high-level quality relationship will take some awareness.

In my next point I’m gonna share a personal story about how I was navigating these early stages with my husband in our dating relationship, and there were multiple times where I had no idea if he was gonna choose in, but I was doing my work, my practice to stay with me, to not reach beyond myself and allow him to step to me. Because I wanted to feel that he was choosing in, I wanted to feel that he was choosing me and our relationship, that it wasn’t because I manipulated it or I persuaded him or I coerced him, or sold him on an idea… I wanted him to choose me and what was most real that I could offer, as transparent and authentic as I could be. I have blind spots, and sure, there’s lots to be worked on, but that was my practice.

So with this number three point, allow space for your partner to be in, to choose you… You don’t wanna feel like you’re carrying the relationship, because once you enter into a deeper level of commitment, I’m imagining you wanna trust that if you have weaker times or you get sick or something happens, that they can also hold down the fort, that they can also carry a little bit more of the load. You wanna have this trust that they’re there, they’re with you, they’re in it.

Number four – honor your cues. This is listening to that gut sensation. Some people might call it intuition, other people have physical symptoms. They might feel their heart racing, they might feel their gut is clamped, they might feel nauseous. People have all kinds of physical symptoms, and I wanna encourage you to just listen. It doesn’t mean anything, I want you just to be able to listen and be curious.

My guess is if you slow down and you really listen to your inner signals and signs – and I’m gonna give you a little bit more information around how to work with this – that you’ll have a lot more information. You will not be so confused, you will not be so compelled to force or try harder. You’ll be able to have some peace and relief in acknowledging what’s real. When we’re not listening, we’re more likely miss things, or we will project, we will make up a story about what’s real, about them or ourselves. We’ll fill in the blanks based on our fears or hopes or desires, but we’re not really meeting what’s real in the moment, what’s really happening. That’s uncomfortable to do at times.

There were many times when my husband and I were dating and I didn’t know what was happening; maybe we were having a moment of disconnect or miscommunication, and in those early stages you don’t have a commitment that you’re in and that you’re gonna work on things. When you’re dating, there’s still this “Are we gonna go to the next level?” type thing. It’s a lot to tolerate, and I remember feeling like I had to grieve the possibility of us not moving forward. And to feel that and be honest about that, that I was scared perhaps that he wasn’t gonna be a yes, and feeling the loss of him not being in my life and all the things that I had felt with him and experienced with him and hoped with him…

When we’re not honest about these things, we can, again, fill in the blanks; we’ll work harder, we’ll just try to orchestrate things, and almost not even listen to what they’re saying. It’s just, “I’ve got it. We’re moving forward, let me handle it all and you just kind of be along for the ride.” Or other people will kind of shut down. They’ll withhold, they’ll feel resentful… “I’m gonna shut you out before you can shut me out.” Or they’re managing expectations and disappointment and not really talking about it, and there’s a lot going on that’s causing wedge between the connection. The second listener was talking about feeling a disconnect and tension. A lot there was not probably named. “What am I feeling? What are you feeling? Can we be open about that? What are we scared of? What are we feeling pressure around? Maybe everybody sees us as this perfect couple, but can we really be honest about where we feel inadequate or parts of ourselves that we don’t feel are lovable? How do we welcome that? How do we talk about that? How can we be real about that?” Because when we feel pressure, that’s when we feel like we have to act like everything’s good.

If we’re talking about physical symptoms here, the belly, the gut – in some traditions they call this the emotional center of our whole body and being. So if we’re clamping down in our gut, in our stomach, there’s almost this feeling of “I don’t wanna feel what I’m feeling. I’m trying to brace, I’m trying to clamp down. I don’t wanna feel what’s there.” So possibly, I don’t know. There’s lots of ways that we could explore this.

Again, this is a podcast episode, so it’s limited, and I’m just answering some text questions that were e-mailed to me, so I’m just kind of giving you insight based on what I have experienced and known at a kind of high level here.

So for this number four, honoring your cues, it could be very helpful to pause when you have some time to yourself and you can really try to be honest about what you feel when you’re with this person. Even if you’re married, and you’re feeling this tension and this disconnect… When we’re in this particular dynamic or when we’re feeling this tension, what is it that I’m feeling? Because it’s easy to wanna make it about the other person.

For a moment, can you just tune into your reaction, your response? Sometimes when we’re dating it’s “I don’t wanna feel too much. I wanna feel in control of my emotions, I don’t wanna fall in love, I don’t wanna feel this sense of loss of control… I feel so vulnerable.” It’s risky to love, it’s really risky to open up our hearts so fully and open, and when we feel such a connection with somebody it could feel like “Wow, you’ve got a lot of power over me”, just with that sense of openheartedness and what’s at risk there. But that’s the beauty about his number four, honoring your cues, because as you become more connected with yourself, even owning your vulnerability, you become more powerful, you become more able to be with yourself and stand on your own two feet.

When you’re asking yourself what you’re feeling, and wondering “Am I scared? Am I feeling anxious? Am I afraid of being rejected? Am I afraid of being left?” and then what happens for you when you’re feeling these things? What’s your pattern? Where do you typically go? What are the fears or the judgments or the reaction that you have?

I was telling you, when I was dating my husband I would get anxious in these places of uncertainty and discord. If we didn’t feel connected and I wasn’t sure what was going on, I would start to feel anxious, and my pattern up until that point would have been to reach for him, try to connect with him, try to check him out, to try to get reassurance in some fashion or form, but underneath that was essentially what I was doing. And my husband, anytime I tried to do that or fell under that pattern, he would get more firm, more dug in and less responsive. So the more that I tried – he was actually a great biofeedback tool for me – he would not respond. So I was throwing these bottles at him – not playing catch, but literally probably throwing bottles, trying to get his attention. I wasn’t being attacking or aggressive, but I was definitely reaching in a way to try to get him to respond, so it’s almost like the balls were just dropping.

I’d done enough personal work to know, “Okay, there’s stuff up for me here. I’m feeling anxious, I’m feeling uncomfortable, I’m afraid of rejection, so how do I slow down, how do I meet that?” I can tell you it’s some of the most difficult work, to feel that grief of like “He may not choose me. He may reject me.” But again, the transformation that comes from me being able to stand on my own two feet, soothe my own anxiety, validate my own worthiness, that it’s not dependent on whether or not he chooses me, I am worthy… And that if I can find that balance inside myself over and over again, he would choose me, he would step to me, he would engage on his own. It wasn’t because I did something to get him to engage. I did my work to be still in my own being and let him meet me. So I got to feel him choose me, in his own way, and we would then enter into our dialogue on work on relationship together, co-create our dynamic, our experiences, and work that all out.

The final thing that I’ll say here in this number four is that most people, when they come in touch with themselves and honor their experience, they see more clearly; they’re able to connect with their truth and their understanding, they’re able to see their reactions, their patterns, their old baggage, or they’re really able to see what their partner is really showing them, or their person that their dating, what they’re really showing. Like, “Okay, can I be real about what this person’s presenting to me?” and those are the cards that I’m working with.

This leads to number five – being honest about what your partner is showing you and telling you. There’s so many times when we’re dating that we, again, imagine who this person is. It’s almost impossible to not do that, because you don’t know them well enough. You have to fill in the blanks, but it’s very tempting to want to make up a story and maybe even like your story more than what they’re showing you, and hence ignore what they’re showing you and stay with your hope, fantasy or expectation about who they could be or are. It’s your story about them.

It’s easy to believe in the potential, and I do want you to give this person the benefit of the doubt, but I want you to be checking it out with them – is that true? Is that your experience? Can you tell me about your experience? And then listen. How does that fit with what you’ve imagined? Or if you had a different perception or they’ve said something different (mixed messages), how does that fit? “Okay, you’re telling me this now… I heard this before, I think. Help me here… What’s real? What’s your process? What am I misunderstanding?” and really get honest.

It might be difficult, it might require asking questions that you might not wanna know the answer to. But again, listening – you wanna know that now rather than later. It’s gonna save a lot of upset if you get clear now. It might take reflecting on, “Okay, what are they consistently doing? What’s the behavior? What’s the pattern? What do they continually show me? Do they never respond? How does that fit with ‘I’m important.’? Maybe I’m not important right now. Maybe I will be down the road, but I’m not right now.” But I get to choose, right? I’m not important right now, I’m not the priority right now; that doesn’t I’m not important, it just means what you’ve got on your plate, I’m not ranking very high right now. Relationship might not be important for you right now, and that’s okay. But to be honest about what you’re working with… Because then it prevents this whole banging our heads against a door, or a brick wall. It’s maddening to try to reconcile mixed messages, or we think one thing, but we’re seeing another, and then we go back and forth in this ping-pong… It’s crazy-making. What’s real?

It reminds me of the Sex And The City Episode where I think Miranda told Carrie, who was dating a guy and it was like, “Okay, I’m just gonna give it to you plain and simple – he’s just not that into you.” And it was basically saying, “You don’t need to do all these hoop jumping and gymnastics to try to understand if this guy is into your or not.” If he’s not gonna wanna go upstairs, he’s just not that into you. It doesn’t mean, again, that you’re not lovable and attractive and amazing and a huge catch, an amazing catch; it just means he is not that into you. And it was like this huge epiphany for her that “Oh, I can save myself all this drama”, and she didn’t take it as it’s a reflection of her and her worthiness, it was just like “Okay, he’s just a no. Move on to the next person.” If he’s a no, something better will come along.

Let’s say the person you’re dating is saying, “I just wanna be friends. I’m not really available right now.” I would listen to that. Maybe they’ll call you when they are ready, maybe they won’t, but that dynamic of pursuing – it’s almost like you’re not really honoring them. You’re not really listening to what they’re telling you. Sometimes they’ll add a lot of other things in there: “I think you’re a great guy”, “I think you’re amazing”… There’s these threads of hope that start to seep in, but I would really listen to what they’re telling you, what they’re showing you, and you wanna honor that. Because again, you wanna build a foundation in relationship where you’re honoring the person’s experience, regardless of what it is.

Number six is trust in yourself. This is that trust in yourself, that trust in your worthiness, that your well-being, that your essence is good enough, and that you are capable of love and capable of relationship – if not this relationship, something else. You are worthy of having a high-level, quality relationship.

Sometimes when you’re not trusting yourself you’re gonna feel afraid, you’re gonna feel fearful, and that will be talking to you. Old patterns are gonna talk, old reactions are gonna come up in you. You might have a whole range of negative experiences. But if I can in this point here offer some guidance to try to connect with that inner voice, that place of wisdom inside yourself that knows that you’re more than your fear, that you’re more than these current circumstances of relationship disconnect, trusting in the process that you can have love.

From this place of trust in yourself and trust in the process of cultivating love and relationship, believing that it’s possible for you, you’re gonna have different thoughts, you’re gonna have different questions that you’ll ask yourself. You’ll think about things differently, you’ll see things differently. So if you could entertain and nurture that aspect in yourself, even just a little, from time to time… I can’t say you’ll be able to sustain this for a long period of time, but again, drop into trusting in yourself. Again, your worthiness, your lovableness, and that the possibility of love and relationship is available for you… What that feels like when you try that on, when you feel into that.

You might gain information about your current circumstance. You might think, “Okay, if I believe that love’s available, why am I wasting my time with this thing right here? This isn’t at all what I want. This is a no.” Then you might say, “Okay, if I really trust that there’s relationship possibility for me, I wanna put my energy into that.”

Some people hold to something that doesn’t feel good because they’re afraid there’s nothing else out there for them.

It’s funny, I was working on some show notes for this episode, and I was downstairs at my laptop and my husband had the movie Castaway on. It was towards the end; if you’ve seen the movie, obviously he was stranded on an island – I can’t remember the period of time, but he comes back and his wife has remarried and now has a child, and I just was like, “Oh gosh, I can’t imagine what that would be like, to endure that level of difficulty and to survive and to basically get back to a mainland and to live, and then reconnect with your lost loved one, your spouse, and they moved on.” Not only did you have to endure this life-threatening, just to survive, the amount of effort and the tragedy of that, and then to have to endure this heartbreak of losing your loved one.

I think towards the end he was talking to her friend and he was talking about his sadness and his heartbreak of losing her again… Feeling like he lost her when he was stranded on the island, and how he really held their love for him and how she helped him, her love helped him get through that experience, but then to be faced with losing her again… The sadness and the heartbreak of that, and his acceptance of it.

He says, “So now I know what I have to do. I have to keep breathing, and tomorrow the sun will rise, and who knows what the tide will bring in?” So he is essentially trusting that there is goodness in this. That while this is really heartbreaking and really sad and tragic, that I trust that I will leave and I will breathe, and good will come. Something in the tide will change.

I think towards the end of the movie there’s this prospect of someone who could be a match for him, or someone he could possibly explore relationship with. It’s left as a mystery, but just that life offers this unfolding, and if we could trust that there’s goodness…

In summary, the six tips that I am offering you today are:

1. Be aware of compromising self or your values.

2. Find balance.

3. Allow space for your partner to be in.

4. Honor your cues.

5. Be honest about what your partner is showing you and telling you.

6. Trust in yourself, trust in life.

If you’re caught in a pattern of trying too hard, I wanna encourage you to slow down and perhaps try one of these tips. Pick one to work with. I would love to hear what happens for you. Please feel free to e-mail me at jessica@drjessicahiggins.com. I would love to hear your experience, and if you’re open to me sharing that on the podcast, I’d be happy to do that as well. Or you can always comment on the show notes, which can be found on my website DrJessicaHiggins.com, click on Podcast, and you’ll find the most recent episode there at the top. Then click on the episode and you’ll have the show notes, and at the bottom is a place to comment. I would love to hear your input.

Thank you for sharing this time with me, thank you for listening, thank you for the energy and investment in cultivating a relationship that you are truly happy and fulfilled in. Until next time, I hope you take great care!

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