Did you get into your relationship thinking you could “fix” those few things that you didn’t like about your partner? Do you find yourself seeing your partner as they could be and miss who they actually are? Do you feel they aren’t living into their potential or do you compare them to your idealized version of them?
This kind of behavior can be really toxic in relationships, and I have found many of my clients bring this up, so I thought I’d share some points of insight for you to consider:
People can usually feel when you don’t fully accept them as they are. On the other hand, being with someone who is in full acceptance of who you are is one of the most healing things we can offer one another.
“But if I accept them as they are then they’ll never change” our minds tend to say. What I have found is quite the opposite. As we come into relationship with the one we are actually with, not an image of who we want them to be, a deeper experience of connection is available. Coming from this place of acceptance first, we are available to make more effective changes in the relationship (if we still want change that is) because we are neutral within ourselves and move from a place of wholeness.
There are going to be things that work for you in the relationship and other things that don’t. I’m not suggesting you to be a doormat and ignore what’s true for you. I’m inviting a different approach that may actually be more successful and fulfilling.
What if you were able to actually meet your partner with full acceptance of where things are for the both of you right now? In that intimate connection of fully accepting how they are, how you are, and where the relationship is, from here see if there are still things you want to share or not.
I don’t mean to fake this acceptance because that’s also felt and won’t offer true healing. I am speaking of an acceptance that arises out of our humility to truly recognize that we don’t know that it would be better if they only changed. These judgments are an opportunity to use the relationship as a teacher. To learn about yourself through it by recognizing your partner as your own mirror and looking at what unresolved material this situation is pointing at within yourself. What part of yourself are you not fully accepting? Is there a part of you that you have denied, repressed, or not owned?
As long as we’re trying to make our partner into something different, we’re in relationship with an image of who we want them to be, continuously getting disappointed and never truly meeting one another.
What if for a moment you met your partner with complete and authentic acceptance? Without necessarily sharing with them that you’re trying this out, see what happens in him or her when you shift the way you see them inside yourself. Instead of thinking of ways to change them, see if you can discover who they are beyond your stories about them, as if you’ve just met them for the first time in this very moment. See if you can stay in a space of discovery, of wonder.
What is it like to fully and intimately be with them as they are now? See if you can notice what opens up…
“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” -Carl Rogers
Enjoy the discovery.
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