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Relationship Advice: Am I in the Right Relationship?

by Cam Williams on May 24, 2023

I am a huge romantic. I LOVE love. My favorite movie is ... all romantic comedies and one of my only holiday traditions is to watch Love Actually. I’m so drawn in by how the characters in this movie don’t let the opinions of others or social norms dictate what their relationships should look like or keep them from saying “yes” to the people they want to be with. They don’t let anyone - including their own reservations - stop them from pursuing who they love.

These characters are in tune with how they feel, who they are, and who they want to be with. Their demonstration of unconventional and unconditional love pulled at my heartstrings and inspired me to seek out and strengthen my intuition to help me find my dream love.

One of the most common questions that arises with my clients is “Am I in the right relationship?” It can be challenging to parse out your feelings, especially when you have been in a relationship for a long time and there are so many things attached to it. Long-term relationships are often comfortable, secure, and have a big impact on defining who you are as a person and how you go about the world. So it makes sense that it would be difficult to determine how you truly feel about the relationship and grapple with the potential of losing that security.

Yesterday, one of my coaching clients was seeking relationship advice. He told me his story about their relationship; that they are compatible, they have fun together, and they have similar interests. He said it just makes sense, but he's questioning if it's the 'right' relationship, he thinks something might be missing.

“It makes sense” is absolutely one way to do it. To go about life orienting towards things that “make sense” is safe and logical. You can probably attribute a lot of your success to reason and logic: your brain has worked so well to get you to where you are today. It makes sense to be with someone that likes the same things as you, someone that has similar aspirations, that has friends in common. All these factors make life easier.

I notice in myself that I put so much emphasis and preference on rationality. I let my brain decide so much that I don’t often pause and ask my body what it has to say. Sometimes, I even avoid giving my emotions a voice, actively suppressing them, because I know they are telling me something that my brain doesn’t want to hear, or doesn’t want to confront.

Our bodies are the wisest, most primitive source of information for us as humans. We feel emotions and use our gut to guide our choices. At the most basic level, our bodies’ intuition helps keep us alive. But when we learn to recognize our bodies’ cues and understand their intelligent messages, we thrive in life. When we are in-tune with what our bodies are telling us, and respond appropriately, we can live a life beyond our brain’s imagination, a state that some call heaven or bliss. Psychologist and author, Bessel Van der Kolk alludes to this message throughout his incredibly insightful book The Body Keeps the Score:

"Neuroscience research shows that the only way we can change the way we feel is by becoming aware of our inner experience and learning to befriend what is going inside ourselves."

If you find yourself in a very rational, heady state when deciphering what to do in a relationship, it can be helpful to take a step back, pause, and reflect on what your body - and emotions - are telling you about the relationship.

First ask yourself:

How do I want to feel in my relationship?

There are many ways you could want to feel, and there is no wrong answer. You could want to feel supported, accepted, respected, understood, empowered, worthy, loved. Think of your ideal set of qualities, and then identify specific actions a partner could take to help you feel that way.

I was very lucky to meet my wife. She focuses on conflict resolution and relationship communication in her work, so I'm fortunate she brings her experience to support our connection. Early on in our relationship, she asked me this question: “How do you want to feel in this relationship?” I remember how vulnerable - yet seen - I felt when I gave her my raw and real response. I said, “I want to feel adored and cared for''. She fully received my answer, reflected it back to ensure she heard correctly, then asked some follow up questions: “What does that look like for you? What are specific things I can do that help you feel adored and cared for?” Then she committed to making the effort to incorporate those actions into our relationship. I then asked her the same set of questions and wholeheartedly committed to doing what I could to support her wishes.

So first, ask yourself how you want to feel, and then ask yourself:

How does it feel to be with my current partner?

Take a moment to evaluate how you feel in various situations. Notice how you feel when you are by yourself. Notice how you feel when you are together with your partner in private. Notice how you feel when you are with your partner in a social situation.

Then compare how much you feel the way you want to feel when you are alone and together. Take this activity as a way to bring awareness to your emotional and sensational response to the relationship. Just to notice, to learn, and to understand. You can then decide how you want to continue with this new awareness.

It turns out that the best relationship advice is already present inside of you, you've just been looking for it in your brain, but really it's in your body. When we become aware, we can find more clarity in what serves our greatest, wholehearted life.

This is what I really like about Hugh Grant. It is that he is aware of how he feels and is courageous to make difficult decisions to ask for what he really wants.

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