As I delve deeper into the self-study of life and love, I recognize how much importance psychologists put on early relationships and how formative experiences can inform the rest of our adult lives. I decided to look into my past by questioning it and enroll an expert on ways to develop a healthy relationship with… relationships. Garet Bedrosian, licensed therapist and healer, was kind to share this insight with me.
Your childhood matters.
Since I can’t remember much, I call my parents for clues from my early years. The only memory from kindergarten is my Dad walking me to class then leaving me in tears. My father, while emotionally effusive, was physically absent for the first few years of my life because he was traveling throughout Asia trying to make it as an immigrant small businessman. I was still surrounded by the rest of my doting Asian family but perhaps I felt abandoned or lost in communal living. Plus I grew up in a culture that had high, arguably harsh expectations. So I have fallen privy to abandonment/attachment/attention-wanting/self-doubt but I can catch myself.
We don’t necessarily want more of what we already exude or have. As Bedrosian tells me, “We learn our template of love from our origin… You’re only going to fall in love with people who energetically match the template,” so someone who may be seeking to fill similar holes but turned out a different way — matching puzzle pieces, if that makes sense. My parents have been married for a long time yet I seem to attract bachelors and products of divorces. Perhaps unsubconsciously I’m drawn to the challenge to bring stability or force commitment unsuccessfully. Bedrosian herself says she’s been drawn to the more adventurous types since she may have suppressed that side of herself but has had to learn the hard way to veer away from the extremes. Being aware of having these types of relationship patterns is powerful; the awareness can loosen the habit’s grip.
Don’t be negative.
It’s easy to internalize the failures in modern constructs of online dating. Just because people seem too busy, distracted or uninterested to commit, there’s nothing wrong with you! It’s the circumstance, the timing. Focus on what is working independently, and what you’re learning along the way. Keep it real and don’t quit on love.
Physical is just the key.
Chemistry must exist but keep in mind the hormone cocktails don’t last forever. Get past the drug of physicality and stimulate the brain without dopamine. Open the door to intimacy, which is all we want really, isn’t it? A relationship arises from being vulnerable emotionally past the hookup. You don’t have to share the same hobbies, but feel free to verbally share your own passions in life with your partner.
Check your body.
On that note, combine sex with love and vice versa. Open your heart and connect with your bottom half. I’ll be forever grateful to someone who helped me realize I have a powerful energy inside me that’s stuck, either from fear or from a bad experience or inexperience. Release the tension in your hip and instead of worrying about the next move, stay in the present when your souls combine in more ways than one.
Crack the code.
If you’ve made it to significant relationship stage, start really learning the others’ love language, which is how people express their affection or expect appreciation. For example, some people need to hear something directly or would rather give a gift by showing not telling. Additionally, if you have a fight about something trivial, dig deeper into what the argument is really about. Be honest and identify triggers as well as reactions. As detailed in The Dance of the Lion and the Unicorn, couples get stuck in vicious cycles of shame and blame out of inner conflict and hidden issues, but “until we embrace the part or parts of us that mean to protect us, we will never gain control of our internal milieu.” Over time, I’m naturally a fighter and willer and that will only push others away.
Relationships are work.
Both parties need to have an understanding and make a commitment. There’s a way to meet in the middle and that is called compromise. I leave you with some lasting advice from Bedrosian: “Love becomes action than a feeling.”