ERP 302: How To Avoid Self-Sabotage In Relationship — An Interview With Roy Biancalana

By Posted in - Podcast January 11th, 2022 0 Comments

Just like Roy, some people jump from one relationship to another because they believe that the right person is going to fix their relationship challenges. What they don’t realize is that they are just avoiding the pain. Eventually, they get hurt all over again and look for another relationship to fill the void.

In this episode, Roy talks about self-sabotage in relationships, how that happens, and some tips to overcome them.

Roy Biancalana is a certified relationship coach and a nationally recognized expert in the field of attraction and conscious relationships and is the host of the Attracting Lasting Love Podcast. Along with being a frequent TV analyst, Roy is the author of three number one best-selling books, the latest of which is Relationship Bootcamp: Hard-Core Training for Life, Love & the Pursuit of Intimacy.

In this Episode 

3:46 Roy’s takeaways from failed relationships and limiting beliefs about love. 

24:04 An illustration of self-sabotage and how a coach can help you become more self-aware. 

27:42 Roy’s seven relationship muscles for a healthy and sustainable connection. 

34:12 A few pointers on how to change your mindset and overcome self-sabotage. 

43:21 A relationship fitness test to evaluate yourself and how Roy can further assist you to get in great relationship shape.

Your Check List of Actions to Take

  • Stop sabotaging your relationship by blaming your partner for everything that goes wrong. Instead, ask yourself how are you responsible for what is happening in your love life.
  • Do not enter another relationship in order to avoid the pain. The pain is an invitation to look within. Take a breath and assess yourself.
  • Reveal your true self to your partner if you want to be close to him or her.

Mentioned

The Attracting Lasting Love Podcast

RELATIONSHIP BOOTCAMP: Hard-Core Training for Life, Love & the Pursuit of Intimacy book

The Relationship Fitness Test

Connect with Roy Biancalana

Website: coachingwithroy.com
Twitter: twitter.com/coachingwithroy
YouTube: youtube.com/user/coachingwithroy/

Connect with Dr. Jessica Higgins

Facebook: facebook.com/EmpoweredRelationship 

Instagram: instagram.com/drjessicahiggins 

Podcast: drjessicahiggins.com/podcasts/

Pinterest: pinterest.com/EmpowerRelation 

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/drjessicahiggins 

Twitter: @DrJessHiggins 

Website: drjessicahiggins.com  

Email: [email protected]

About Today’s Show

Roy, thank you for joining us today.

Oh, it’s so great to be here and to have a conversation about life, love, and the pursuit of intimacy.

One of the topics that we’re going to be exploring here today is about sabotage in a relationship and how that happens. I guess before we pivot to that topic, I know you have your own story around really what got you into supporting people with love and relationship. I know we could probably spend the whole show talking about just that story and of itself. For people who don’t know you, can you give us some background around where you’re coming from?

I think if you were to open the dictionary for the word “sabotage”, you might see my picture next to it. The things I have to share on this topic come from years of working with clients and training, but a lot of it is just my own experience. 

Okay. So, I was in a marriage that lasted about 19 years. It became a very platonic functioning co-parenting brotherly-sisterly type of relationship. We didn’t fight much. We didn’t have much sex. We got along okay, but there was no man-woman stuff in that. That wasn’t satisfying, I think, for either one of us, but especially for me. And so, we went through a divorce. 

Right there, I immediately rebounded. Even before my divorce was final, I had already met someone and jumped into another relationship that was, of course, the dead opposite—highly sexual. And at the time, it was really wonderful for me. But of course, that’s what we do. We sometimes rebound in our pain, and we haven’t learned our lessons from a breakup. And so, we just jump into something else. 

I was with her for about two and a half years. We got engaged. And about six months before the wedding, she dumped me. That absolutely rocked my world. I had what I consider to be like a year-long midlife crisis. Looking back now, it’s the best thing that ever could happen to me because it made me really face some things. But at the time, I couldn’t sleep. I had heart palpitations, sweaty palms. I became a lousy father. My career suffered. I was just a mess. 

And so, in my brilliance at that time, doing the best I knew how to do, I just joined about four different dating sites and tried to find someone to help me forget my ex-fiancé, which, looking back, I kind of smile at myself and give myself a big hug for being such an idiot. But it was the only way I knew how to deal with my pain. So, you can imagine the amount of drama that I created with women that I met online when in reality, I was not available. I was not emotionally available.

And this is really common, right? That you’re saying, I’m giving myself this compassionate hug and that the vantage point you were coming from, as you know now, there was so much more for you to look at. And this is very much reinforced in society. I mean, I’m wondering if this is one of the sabotage things that we do is we think that it’s really about the other or that we’re looking for a better fit with that partner that has better chemistry or more soulful connection.

Well, there are a number of ways what I was doing was really self-sabotaging. One of them was I had a belief that finding the right woman was going to fix some emotional issues going inside of me. So, I was looking for a relationship for the wrong reasons, right? I often say in my work that life partners make lousy life sources. I was in this pain and loneliness. The solution to that is to find another partner. But I was basically using these women to avoid my pain or to help me forget the last relationship. And so, there’s lots of drama there. 

In the middle of all that, I hired a coach. Someone said, “Roy, maybe you should work with someone.” Now, here’s the biggest self-sabotage thing, and you just alluded to it. It makes me laugh now, and maybe some of the listeners are going to laugh along with me, but at that time, I actually thought that my love life was a mess because I hadn’t met the right woman yet. I really thought it was my ex-wife, all my ex-fiancé, all these crazy women online. It never occurred to me that I was the common denominator in all of these relationships. 

I was not looking at myself and saying, “Roy, what are you doing to attract these dynamics? What are you missing about yourself? What blind spots do you need to look at? What issues are you bringing to the table that are leading to these relationships not working out?” I was just convinced that it was the woman’s fault. Right? That seems so obvious to me now, but I really do believe that that is the central issue that people need to face if they want to change the trajectory of their love lives. It has to shift from “my lousy ex,” “men are this,” “women are this,” “I haven’t met the right person yet.” 

It has to shift from pointing out there and looking out there and blaming out there, to looking at yourself and asking some really hard questions that the ego hates to answer, which is, what’s my part in this? What am I missing about myself? How am I creating these dynamics? How am I responsible for what’s been occurring in my love life? 

Without making that shift, all you end up doing then is looking for a new partner. And then you will create the same dynamics like I was doing over and over again because you’re bringing the same baggage, the same issues in your life to the new relationship. So, it’s like Groundhog Day. It’s like you’re going to have the same thing happen over and over again. 

And this, in my opinion, is why the stats say that second marriages are a lot more likely to divorce than first marriages. That’s because most people don’t stop and do some self-evaluation, some inner work, some real reflection. They just jump into the arms of someone else, and they bring all the stuff with them, and they just recreate the same nightmares. That is what I really harp on in my podcast, in my coaching, in my books. 

“It starts not pointing the finger at yourself and making yourself wrong and bad. It’s not about self-loathing. It’s not about self-hatred. It is just about being interested in self-awareness, being interested in what I could be missing about myself that might be playing a huge role in who I attract, and then how these relationships flush themselves out.”

It starts not pointing the finger at yourself and making yourself wrong and bad. It’s not about self-loathing. It’s not about self-hatred. It is just about being interested in self-awareness, being interested in what I could be missing about myself that might be playing a huge role in who I attract, and then how these relationships flush themselves out. If the person is willing to do that, well, then you can really work with them. But I do believe the universe seems to give downloads of wisdom when we really turn and become curious about ourselves.

Yes. And to be clear, when you’re talking about a divorce or even a breakup, or having a relationship struggle, or even being in a marriage that feels dull when we look at sexual, physical intimacy, or not sharing that same spark or romance, that what you’re really talking about is that there’s a real invitation here. 

I guess I just want to also validate that this is painful, as you’re describing, that the tendency to look outside or look for something else. I mean, this is so ingrained in our society, right? I think there are people that are giving voice that there’s an opportunity like you’re saying. We talk about that here on the Empowered Relationship Podcast, that this is really curriculum for our becoming, for our development. 

And so, you’re really helping people look at, okay, there’s the common denominator, there are moves that I’m making, and there might be things that I’m ignoring or haven’t been paying attention to that really are insightful that really helped guide me. And the nudging is really a signpost. It’s really an invitation to turn towards.

Yes, I believe that pain is an invitation to look within, but we don’t always do that. I didn’t for a long time until someone pretty much grabbed me by the lapels and said, “Roy, man, you need to look in the mirror, dude. Quit blaming the women.” 

One of the things that I found, and we can just kind of go on this for a little bit. When I worked with a coach, and I started looking at myself is I started to understand a little bit about my childhood conditioning and how it was setting me up for certain dynamics. 

In other words, my mother, my first girlfriend, you could probably say, I think in life, my first experience of the feminine. My mother was kind of harsh and demanding and perfectionistic and emotionally sort of distant, especially if you weren’t doing what she wanted you to do; if you weren’t fulfilling her agenda. If mama wasn’t happy, nobody was happy kind of in my house a little bit, right? 

Because a little boy wants to be close to his mother, what I started to learn was, the way you get close to a woman is that you pretty much ignore yourself and your interests and your wants, and you make your life be about taking care of theirs. The more I was being a good boy, being a Good Boy Roy is the persona name that I give myself here. The more I was Good Boy Roy, the more my mother felt emotionally connected to me. So, it reinforced that. 

I didn’t know I was doing this or this was happening when I was four or five, six years old. I had no idea, but now I’m 40-45 years old, and I’m finding that I’m relating like that with women—that the way you get beautiful, affectionate, and attentive, passionate woman to want to be with you is you make your life be about taking care of theirs. 

I have a chapter in one of my books that’s called The World’s Greatest Boyfriend. I just felt like the way I wanted to get her attention and affection was by really taking care of her and making her life easy. I met women within weeks. I would be helping out with her kids, maybe cleaning the house, taking the kids to soccer, doing laundry, washing her car, cutting her grass. I would do anything to try to fulfill her agenda and her desires to make her like me. 

Now, in exchange, of course, as I mentioned earlier, I had no sex life with my wife, so the codependent deal was that if I do all that for you, then you’re going to do lots of stuff for me. And she did, right. So, I had these relationships where I was like Superman. I was the hero. I was the rescuer. 

And, of course, I attracted damsel in distress. I attracted partners, who were the reciprocal playmates of my persona. Now there’s my persona of I’ve got a rescue, I’ve got to be a hero, I’ve got to take care of. Well, the women that really responded to that were the women that felt like they were overwhelmed. They had highly successful careers working tons of hours. They were single mothers. They were overwhelmed. And so, I swoop in and say, “Oh, baby, I’ll take care of all that if you just take care of me.” It was like a match made in hell, not heaven, where I was the hero, and I kept attracting damsels in distress. 

So, this dynamic of showing up in life with a persona, with a learned way of like, how do I get love? How do I feel safe? How do I get a connection? These things come from our childhoods. And so, I grew up, not really knowing that but living that out. And these personas will attract playmates that match them, like cookies and milk. Right? So, it’s very common for me to work with clients, who say, you know, “I keep attracting men who are, you know, they’re good guys, but they’re down on their luck there. They don’t have a job. They’re kind of wounded. They’re wounded soldiers. They’re broken down, and then I heal him up.” Yeah, because you’re like Florence Nightingale. Like, if you’re a mechanic, then the only things that you can work with are broken-down cars.

Right? So, if you feel like, “The way I get love is by fixing things and taking care of and rescuing and that kind of stuff.” Well, then you match up with people who need to be fixed and taken care of. One of the things that is such an important question to ask in terms of self-sabotage is, “What is my relationship persona?” Am I showing up in the world from a fear-based way of getting love, attention, safety, security? Because when you do, you will attract a person who has a matching kind of persona, and then you’re in this kind of codependent thing that in the beginning works great. 

“One of the things that is such an important question to ask in terms of self-sabotage is, “What is my relationship persona?” You will attract a person who has a matching kind of persona, and then you’re in this kind of codependent thing that in the beginning works great.”

When I met my ex-fiancé, I took care of her, and she took care of me. It was like, “Oh, my God, it was so exciting.” But after a while, I sort of got a little tired of her being a workaholic and me doing all our kids’ laundry and folding the laundry and changing the sheets. I have my own life. I have my own career that I wanted to explore. So, I didn’t want to do that anymore. 

I was doing it out of fear in the first place. I wasn’t doing it because I wanted to love her that way. I was doing it because that’s the only way I thought I could get a woman to want me. So, I stopped wanting to do that stuff. Well, then the whole relationship fell apart. Right? Because codependency only works when both people do their job.

“Codependency only works when both people do their job.”

Yes, and this is the pairing that you’re talking about, whether or not it’s the pursuer, the distancer, or the one you’re talking about, the caregiver and the one that’s in distress. I would just say, Roy, that I believe we all have certain tendencies the way we’ve gotten through those early experiences, navigating relationships, and understanding how people respond to us and the relational roadmap, if you will. 

And so, I think we all have these adaptive strategies that worked for us at one point, and that as we look at our adult life may no longer be necessary. And really, like you’re saying, with that compassionate stance that we can really love that part of us that yes, there was wisdom in that at one point, and then what is it creating? What’s the result? And so, you’re really helping people lookout. Okay, so there are some tendencies. There’s a persona here that perhaps we’re really comfortable with. And if we can be more aware of where that’s coming from, and the motivations and their fears and the anxieties, that helps us. 

The other thing that I’m really hearing in addition to like, you’re talking about sabotage of 1) looking at the fixes and the other. 2) perhaps not acknowledging or not really looking at or being conscious of those early relational tendencies. And third is it’s really limiting, right? That we then aren’t able to be as authentic about our wishes, our desires, our longings, and then that takes us really out of the relationship because we’re playing that role or that persona, and they don’t get to feel us because one of them really attractive things is to feel your partner and to have when you’re talking about even polarity of masculine and feminine. It’s not about being same-same. It’s about how do we feel each other and negotiate that shared space.

Yeah, that is so wise. You’re exactly right. First of all, we do these things as children to survive. And so, they’re brilliant, but they’re not necessary later on in life. Right? But we don’t know we’re doing it. 

And when my coach worked with me, and we started pointing out, because I kept complaining about why do I keep attracting women who just need to be taken care of all the time, right? They make tons of money. They’re really successful, but they’re like damsels in distress. And she’s, “Well, that’s because you’re showing up with a rescuer persona and those are the only kind of women that will work with you.” 

It really dawned on me that when I did internet dating, I met some women that were wonderful, that was really powerful, and they were on their game, and they might have had careers and been single mothers, but didn’t need to be rescued. They might have wanted to be loved. They might have wanted support, but they weren’t victims, right. Lo and behold, those women were never attracted to me. They could sort of feel that I was coming from a place of rescue consciousness, and they’re like, “Eeew.” 

When I worked with my coach, and I started to see because I gave this guy a name, this way I related with. I call him Casanova. Okay? I just gave him a name. Like, I’ll light your cigarette, baby. I’m there to meet any need. I’ll put my coat over a puddle so that your feet don’t get wet. So, when I saw Casanova, I said, okay, yeah, that’s fear-based. That’s not it. I don’t want to be that guy. 

I told my coach I didn’t even know who I would be without that. I don’t even know who I am if I’m not that guy because I just thought that was me. She’s like, “No, it’s not you. That’s you when you’re scared. That’s you when you’re desperate when you feel insecure, and you don’t feel like a woman would want you just for who you are.” 

So, a lot of my journey became “Well, who am I if that’s not me?” That’s what I love to do with my clients. Once they see the role they’ve been playing out of fear to try to get love and attention and safety and security, they’re left with, “Well, who am I without that?” And then, they begin this journey of real self-discovery, the more empowered self, the self that can set boundaries, that can make requests, that seeks to have mutual support. They’re exploring like a whole new version of themselves. It’s like they’re being born again, in a sense, you could say. 

And that, I think, is really a large part of the big sabotaging conversation of how our roles and personas sabotage us, and that attracts the wrong partners and the wrong dynamics and all that. And then from there, kind of shedding that skin like a snake sheds its skin. You find a new way of being in the world that’s more authentic, and then you can really connect with someone because you’re not connecting from fear. You’re connecting from a more authentic place of honesty and openness and some self-awareness. That’s what’s happened in my life because now my love life is fantastic because I kind of went through all that inner work.

“You can really connect with someone when you’re not connecting from fear, when you’re connecting from a more authentic place of honesty and openness and some self-awareness.”

I know for myself, some of this can be terrifying to take these steps when we don’t know. It’s the unfamiliar. It’s the unknown. We actually don’t know if somebody is going to respond well to us, if we are going to be loved, if we are safe and secure. So, this can be a lot to contend with. And before we pivot to that, I’m curious, is there anything else that you want to name about sabotage or the ways that we sabotage in a relationship? We’ve named a few. Is there anything else you want to say?

In general, we sabotage in a big way. It’s a little bit tied to what I was saying. I can use an illustration to share it or a metaphor, I guess it would be. Just imagine that someone wants to run in a triathlon or compete in a triathlon. They want to do really well. And so, they hire a coach to help them be successful in a triathlon. And by the way, there are triathlon coaches. I actually met one this one time. It’s bizarre. 

So, if a person says, “Okay, I want to hire you as a coach to help me be successful in a triathlon.” Coach says, “Okay, great. Let’s sit down. Let’s have a conversation.” And then, the athlete starts to ask questions about race day. How do you navigate the water in the beginning so you don’t drown? How do you make the transitions between the water and the running and the bike and the marathon part? How much food do you eat? When do you eat? How much water do you drink? He’s got all these questions about how to navigate the day of the race. 

A good triathlon coach is going to step back and say, “Those are valid questions and they are worthy of discussing, but you’re missing the most important thing here. Are you in shape for this? Are you prepared to go the distance? Do you know what you’re facing?” If you’re 50 pounds overweight, you’re not going to make it a hundred yards in the water. So, forget about race day. That’s not it. It’s about your fitness. 

And so, what I’ve experienced in my life and in the life of my clients is, the way we sabotage ourselves is we put our attention on them. Like, where do I meet them? Where do I go on a Saturday night or a Friday night? Where do I meet them? How do I approach them? Or how do I get them to approach me? What do I say? How do I flirt? How should I dress? 

All these questions about what I consider to be race day, right? Race Day in your love life is that moment when you’re standing on the starting line facing a person for the first time. It might have come through an online date, maybe at a bar, maybe at a networking event, but you’re standing right in front of them. All right, game on. That’s the starting line.

And I would even add just for people that are in a relationship, just even the wanting to connect with your significant other. And it’s been, let’s say, a week, and you’re like, I miss you, and I want to connect, and they don’t look available, but it’s like this go time of like “I really want to reach to you.” That could be with criticism, or it could be with what sounds like you’re really inviting people into is something very different.

Yes, yes. And it really does apply to people who are already in relationships. Because what I’m saying to people when you first meet someone or that moment is if you’re not in shape by the time you meet that person, you’re not going to go the distance. If you’re relationally out of shape, you’re going to be bringing those blind spots, those personas, those parts of your personality, your childhood conditioning. You’re going to be bringing that, and it’s going to sabotage the relationship again. It’s not going to turn out to be the beautiful intimacy it could be because you’re not in shape to make it go the distance.

I don’t know if you would agree with this, but I do think personal growth isn’t this arrival point, right? That there’s this engagement that we have some bearings on the work that we can be in practice and not necessarily be super polished. Would you agree?

We’re never in perfect relationship shape. There are very few enlightened beings in the world. It’s like the game of golf, right? You never are going to master it, but you can get better, and you can work at it. You can understand that perfection isn’t the goal. In relationships, being this perfect human being is not it. It’s being more self-aware, knowing where your relationship muscles might be a little weak and which muscles are kind of strong—because that’s what I do. 

“In relationships, being this perfect human being, is not it. It’s being more self-aware, knowing where your relationship muscles might be a little weak and which muscles are kind of strong.”

In my newest book Relationship Bootcamp, I just identified seven relationship muscles that need to be strong if you’re going to make a relationship really be a healthy, sustainable connection. There are seven basic areas that we need to check to see. Are we strong there? Are we flabby? Are we fit, or are we kind of out of shape? 

Looking back on my own life, I mean, all seven of them I needed to work on. So, that’s kind of where I want to point people, whether you’re in a relationship or not. It’s to focus more and ask yourself, what’s my relationship condition? How relationally in shape am I? Do I know how to handle myself when I get triggered? Do I know how to handle my emotions or my partner’s emotions in a healthy way? Do I know how to communicate and reveal in a way that creates intimacy and drama? Have I let go of the past? Whether you’re in a relationship and you had a fight with your partner last week, or whether you’re single and you’ve had a bunch of disasters in your past and traumas in your past, and all of that past is still alive in you. Those are the things that I find, keep us from connecting in healthy, sustainable kind of ways.

I came across this analogy. It was years and years ago. It was like, you know, how if we’re driving and we’re kind of off-road, or we’re in a muddy road, and there’s mud that’s getting on the windshield, and we clean the windshield. We might get in the car or even if it’s been dusty or whatever, and we’ll put the windshield wiper fluid on, and we’ll clean. There’s hygiene to keeping that visibility so we can see where we’re going. And that relationally and emotionally this sense of being able to clear and clean that space so we can see clearly like some of what you’re describing around recognizing these past triggers or when we get that jolt of like, “Ooh.” Like, that’s a strong reaction, or I’m having a lot of emotion around this, and recognizing okay, there’s probably something around that’s more than just this current moment, or being willing to share that vulnerable underbelly, the very thing that maybe we’re feeling shame about, or being able to communicate really directly around whatever it is that we’re needing or wanting. And so, you’re describing these things. It feels as though it’s this relational hygiene that keeps us in contact rather than the sabotage tendencies that, if we’re not conscious, can start running the show.

Yeah. Your relationship to your past is one of the seven muscles. I don’t want to say the most important one, but it’s certainly the deepest and the juiciest, and the scariest to look at, but it has profound effects. I try to use humor sometimes talking about these things. Otherwise, we would just be overwhelmed and start crying all the time. 

I often joke that for many of us, our relationships are like a ménage à trois from hell. Meaning, it’s me, and you, and my past. And the three of us are in this together. I also joke the only people that don’t have baggage are the little babies in the maternity ward. Okay? We all have had. We’ve been deceived or disappointed, lied to, ghosted, gaslighted, dumped, betrayed. Some have had horrible traumas from the past, in their childhood, in their teenage years. We all have baggage to one extent or another. So, it’s not bad to have the baggage. It’s that we don’t know what to do with it and we sort of keep it alive in us. We sort of bring it on our dates. We bring it into our conversations because it’s still here, it’s still alive in us. It can stand between where we are and where we want to be. It causes us to have basically trust issues. We can be guarded, suspicious. We can have a wall around our hearts.

“We’ve been deceived or disappointed, lied to, ghosted, gaslighted, dumped, betrayed. Some have had horrible traumas from the past, in their childhood, in their teenage years. So, it’s not bad to have the baggage. It’s that we don’t know what to do with it and we sort of keep it alive in us. It can stand between where we are and where we want to be. It causes us to have basically trust issues.”

I tell my clients, “A wall will keep you safe, but it will keep you single.” It’ll keep you separate from people, but you’ll be safe. So, that’s a huge topic that we don’t have the time to go into exactly how do you go about letting go of your past because it’s not about doing a frontal lobotomy and trying to cut out your memory. No, you’re still going to remember what happened. But your past really can be something that just happened, rather than something that’s happening. And there’s a way of working through that, that I do with my clients. I’m sure you do, too. There are ways of letting go. But that’s one of the biggest things because we end up sabotaging our relationships by kind of poisoning. 

I mean, if you’ve had three people cheat on you, and then a new person standing in front of you. I mean, you’re going to be like, “You’re going to cheat on me too.” It’s like you almost can’t wander and have trust issues about, “Can I open up to you? Can I give my heart to you?” Because everybody else has crushed it, right? So, that will make you keep people away. Or it will make you make a relationship go slower than maybe it should, or it will just keep you from just engaging and meeting people and having dates because to you, love is pain. 

There’s another muscle I talk about in the book about our love stories. Love is pain or, do you know what I’m saying? So, these are the kinds of things that I think are what it takes to make a love life be not mediocre but extraordinary.

And I’m wondering, Roy, while we have you, if you can give some people some tips or insight around how to begin to do this work? I know we can’t do it fully as a justice, but can you give some people some nuggets to work with?

Quite a bit. One of the muscles that I mentioned in my book is the communication muscle. I ask people all the time. Would you rather be in a relationship that’s characterized by openness, transparency, authenticity, and truth? Or would you rather be in a relationship that’s characterized by withholds, half-truths, manipulations, and dishonesty? Nobody has said they want that. 

Until they sort of learn what it means to be truly open and authentic, real openness and authenticity are very scary. So, I talk a lot about whether you want to be a revealer, or a concealer in your love life, or with anyone you want to be close to. To me, the definition of intimacy is knowing and being known. If I want to be close to my son or my wife or my friends, then I need to reveal myself. I need to let them know what’s happening over here in Royville. Okay? 

“To me, the definition of intimacy is knowing and being known. If I want to be close to my son or my wife or my friends, then I need to reveal myself.”

I often joke like how many people on a first date, you know, you’re sitting on a first date, and you’re just sort of enamored with the other person. They look great. They seem nice. They’re funny. They’re personable. And you’re over here thinking about our kids are going to be beautiful. It’s like, “Oh, my God, do I want a second date?” I’m like, “Okay, that’s what’s going on inside of you as you’re sitting across from this person.” You’re like, totally into that. You’re like, yeah, you’re already having their baby or something. Okay? 

Do you tell them that? Because it’s true. I mean, it is what you’re thinking. It is what you’re experiencing. Do you look over them and say, “I know it’s our first date, and I don’t want to chase you out the door, but oh, my God, our children might be beautiful. I’m just totally enjoying our time together. I’m already hoping there’s a second date.” Are you that vulnerable? Are you that real? Oh, no, no, no. 

If that’s what authenticity means about really sharing my emotions and my thoughts, how about this one? How about you’re on a date, and the brand-new person you do kind of like him, and the server comes in there. They’re kind of short to the server. They’re kind of snippy. You’re like, “Ooh, that didn’t feel very good. That was kind of yucky.” Well, when the server walks away, do you say, “I just noticed the way you treated her. I was uncomfortable with that. That didn’t feel good over here in me. It kind of made my stomach get into a lump. I noticed myself pulling away from you.” That’s authenticity.

And these things are often against what the dating recommendations are, like, what is sexy, or how to put your best foot forward?

Exactly. Right. It depends on what kind of relationship you want. If you want a relationship where you play games, well then hide all that stuff. But if you want a conscious, honest, transparent relationship, well then relate that way, show up that way. 

Now the person could hear that kind of stuff and run out the door. But you’re looking for the person who hears your truth and what’s going on, and you’re not attacking him. And you’re just simply sharing what you’re experiencing. You’re looking for someone that loves that you’re doing that. Like, that’s how I want to relate. I don’t want to be guessing what you’re feeling over there. I don’t want to be wondering, right? 

Even if you’re on a date with someone, they have three drinks, and you know, they’re kind of slurring their words, and you’re sitting over there thinking, does this person have a drinking problem? I don’t know if I’m comfortable with this. I don’t want to be in a relationship with an addict. I kind of want to run away right now. Well, do you say it? Right? 

So, these are the kind of things that I kind of say, “If you want to make a really good relationship, you have to decide do you want to be a revealer or a concealer?” And with your past, “Do you want to let it go, or do you want to hold on to it?”

And these things take practice. Yes, you’re doing a good job helping people have some catchy phrases to kind of connect with, and there’s so much depth to this. I remember when I was practicing and met my husband in 2005. I was very committed to this. I remember just feeling so awkward. I like to know him. I was like telling him he did this thing that, in a nutshell, he basically asked me to go do something. And I was like, “I have to do this other thing.” And he was like, “I was just kidding.” Like, I played it off. He didn’t. I was like, “Well, wait a second.” I was telling him how my uncle would tease me. 

Anyway, I was sharing with him. And we were in a program, so there was a little more container for us. It wasn’t like just somebody I would never see again, right? So, we had a developing friendship, but it was awkward. We both were attracted to each other, so it wasn’t pure friendship. The other thing I want to say is just about practice. It’s like, if we’re putting all the intention into dating, and yet we’re concealer with our best friend or people that matter. I’m not talking about just any random person, right? If we’re not in practice, it’s going to be a little bit bigger of a step and a little bit harder to reach if we’re not practicing using those muscles on a regular basis.

That’s very wise. That’s very wise. You’re exactly right. Some of these things should be practiced in very safe environments. Maybe you’ve got some close friends, and you guys all agree. No, we really want to relate authentically. You get a chance to practice because you know that your friends aren’t going to break up with you.

And that’s socially awkward, too, right? But it’s part of taking those risks to expose to then learn how you’re being received and feel what it feels like to be really authentic.

Well, we’re all afraid of being rejected, of being judged, of being misunderstood. Right? That’s why I often say, what gives you the freedom to step out on this highwire and live this way to live this free, to be honest, to be open, to be transparent is that sort of behind the scenes, you’ve done the spiritual work to kind of be grounded into something that is deeper and more stable than sort of life itself that you’re experiencing. You’re grounded somewhere into a place where you feel secure, where you feel loved, where you feel accepted and connected. You feel that to such a degree that when you’re on a date if a person does reject you for you being authentic, it’s okay. 

I can handle that. It’s not going to hurt me because I’m already married to life. I’m already married and in a relationship with however you want to call it, God, the universe, the quantum field. I don’t care what name you want to give it. But when you have some sort of underlying foundation in your life, then when you’re dating and, in a relationship, it’s like you’re free to play. Because it’s like, I don’t really need you, right? I mean, I want to be in a relationship, but I don’t need you. And therefore, I don’t need to play a game with you. I don’t need to get you to like me. Right? 

I often joke that we date a little bit. We call it reductive dating. Remember, the word reductive is always used in politics where they release some document, and all the important stuff is blacked out. Right? All the lines are blacked out. We sort of date that way. It’s like, I’m going to show you the stuff that I think you’ll like and accept, and so forth. But I’m not going to show you any of the stuff that I think you might reject. Or you might misunderstand, or you might judge me for. So, we sort of pretend a little bit, right? We put on a false pretense. 

And then what happens, of course, eventually, they get to know us. Well, who are you? Like, I didn’t know that about you or something. And so, people fall in love with the image we give them. And we end up not being able to feel secure because I know you’ve only fallen in love with the parts I’ve shown you, but you don’t know that I can have a temper or I can be kind of a judgmental whatever. You hide yourself. Now, that isn’t to say on the first date, you just throw up on someone, but I think people get my point.

I think there are a lot of just natural neurochemicals and just the bonding in that first stage. It’s easy to fill in the blank and project like you’re talking about because we just haven’t had enough experience of actually seeing them when they get angry. How do you handle conflict? How do you handle an upset? You’re speaking about something I know we could probably talk for several episodes about being securely attached spiritually. And so, there’s something super significant about that, so I appreciate you naming that. I know we are winding down our time. So, I would love it if you could share with people how you would like to invite people to connect with you?

Well, first of all, CoachingWithRoy.com is my website. Okay, so that’s easy. The Attracting Lasting Love Podcast is my podcast—free. So, you know, there’s that. The gift that I want to offer is since I believe and I’ve seen that being in great relationships shape is the key to either creating a healthy relationship you’re already in or attracting a healthy dynamic and having to go the distance, then to me, it would seem like it’s like going to the gym. If you go to the gym and you want to get in great shape, right? You know that’s your goal. And if you have a good trainer, the first thing that trainer is going to do is, “Okay, let’s run you through some assessments. Let’s find out what kind of condition you’re in now. And then based on that, I can put a program together for you to get you where you want to go.” That’s how I view this relationship thing. 

I’ve created a way to discover your current relationship fitness level. Now, this is both good news and bad news because there’s a chance you’re going to find out that you might need to get in better shape. Okay? So, the news you might get out of this little quiz that I have might say you need to do some things that might not feel good to the ego, but I’ve created something called the relationship fitness self-assessment test. It’s a 30-question true-false test. It is very accurate, and it is absolutely confidential. You get your results within minutes, like immediately. Your results are tabulated with the algorithms and all that stuff. I don’t understand that stuff. But the developers that put it together will have you put it in five different categories. Either you’re relationally ripped, which means you’re like Jesus in a relationship or something. Or you’re skinny fat, or you’re overweight, or you’re unhealthy, or you’re in the category that I was in back in the day, my wife and me both. 

I took my own test. I answered the questions from the mentality that I had back when I was single before I met my wife. I scored in the lowest category. Of course, my love life was a mess, right? I was dangerously out of shape. I would think most people would really want to know, okay, so like, how am I doing? Like, what is my relationship fitness level? Now, my test is not the gospel. It’s not like, flawless and perfect, but it’s going to give you a window into maybe I need to do some relationship workouts. Maybe I need to do a little boot camp and so forth. You can find that right on my website. I might have even sent you a link that you can put in show notes. 

Yeah. I do have the link. 

But CoachingWithRoy.com, it’s right on the front page. You can’t miss it, right. You kind of find out where you’re starting from, and then you call me up, and you’re like, “Oh, Roy, what kind of program could you put together to help me get in better shape? Because it doesn’t look like I’m really ready for something real. I got to work on myself a little bit.” Those are my people, the people that say, “Yeah, I got to work on me.” Right? So, that’s my offering to find out how you’re doing right now so you can go forward. On my website, you can find out all about me, the books I’ve written, and all that stuff.

Great. Well, I’ll make sure to have that link to your website CoachingWithRoy.com as well as your podcast Attracting Lasting Love as well as this relationship fitness assessment tool. So, thank you so much for joining us today.

Yeah. It’s been wonderful. Thank you.

Signing Off

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Dr. Jessica Higgins ~ Relationship and Transformational Coaching