So, you’re in a relationship where a lot of your needs aren’t being met. You’ve worked on it, with or without your partner, and nothing has changed. But because of the kids, or your thought that there’s nobody better out there, or your fear of being alone, or whatever your reasons, you’re not leaving.
Now, I’m not going to talk about whether or not that’s a good decision because, frankly, I don’t know you or your situation. But I will say this: if you are living with someone who is physically or emotionally abusive, you need to re-think your decision. That situation can be extremely destructive—dangerous or even fatal.
So here you are with someone who is not giving you what you need. What do you do? You get what you need from other sources. Say you’re missing affection from your partner. They just aren’t the nurturing, affectionate kind. So instead of endlessly trying to squeeze it out of them to no avail, you find another source. Know the best one? YOU! You give to yourself what you want them to give you.
For example, if you would love him/her to gently stroke your face and tell you how wonderful you are, that’s what you do for yourself. Whenever you have a private moment, you touch your face, and whisper the words you long to hear from them. Or, maybe you’d like them to notice when you’re looking particularly good, so when you dress up, you look in the mirror and tell yourself how pretty/handsome you look. See what I mean?
Know this: doing these things will make you uncomfortable because, obviously, you’re more used to criticism than praise. It’s okay to be uncomfortable; in fact, it’s good because that tells you you’re doing something new. Just squirm through the uneasy feelings and after a while, you’ll start to enjoy it. Who doesn’t like good treatment?
Other possible sources for nurturing yourself: cultivate loving friends who hug you and tell you how wonderful you are. Get a dog that excitedly wags its tail just at the sight of you, or a cat that snuggles up and purrs every time you run your hand through its fur. Get love from a family member who appreciates you and your talents…cooking, keeping your house beautiful and clean, your watercolor paintings, your sharp mind, your fun sense of humor. In other words, your partner is not your only source for love and affection. There are others into which you can tap.
A second piece of advice? Stop complaining about your partner and what you’re not getting. Complaining keeps you trapped in the same negative, deprived state. Accept what is, and appreciate what they do give you. And don’t say you’re not getting anything. If that were true, you wouldn’t have chosen them in the first place, and wouldn’t still be there.
Now I’m going to say something that your ears may not like hearing. Ready? You are responsible for your own happiness. Sure, a relationship can enrich and enhance your life, but it’s up to you to provide deep-down happiness for yourself. Have you heard the saying, “you are the only person who will never leave you? Best be kind to yourself?”
Makes sense, doesn’t it? So why not make a commitment to you. Think of how you would treat a good friend and give that same loving treatment to yourself. That’s the ultimate commitment. And the one you most certainly deserve!
Check out my book, The Affair: From Breakdown to Breakthrough, A Therapist’s Real-life Journey, for more great tips and insights about relationships. You can buy it on Kindle worldwide from all Amazon websites, including www.amazon.com