05 Feb Self-love: The Key to a Great Relationship Is You
Self-help guru Dain Heer gives a few key answers to some of the more difficult questions to answer in a romantic relationship; Where do I start? How do I know this is the right relationship? Am I just repeating learned behaviour? How do I repair a broken relationship that is worth fighting for?
What’s stopping you from having the relationship you want? In his book Being You, Changing the World, Heer argues that it’s the idea we need one in the first place.
Here, he explains how a shift in mindset can create a happier emotional life – and how a good relationship will follow.
Q: You say people end up in bad relationships because society prizes relationships above being single – should we celebrate being single?
A: Absolutely. It should be honoured and acknowledged as a viable choice. Everybody is rushing to get into relationships as if it’s going to be the saviour of their problems. It seldom is, because if you’re looking for a solution to your problems outside of yourself, you won’t find it.
If you feel like you’re never going to be happy and you’re going to die if you don’t get something, it repels people. Do you want to be around someone like that? Probably not. It’s pretty simple.
Q: How can we get away from ‘needing’ to be in a relationship?
A: Something you could try is to write down: what is one thing I need from a relationship that I’m not willing to give myself? If you get really vulnerable and honest with yourself, you’ll start to see what it is you’re expecting someone else to deliver – maybe it’s respect, stability or kindness. Once you start giving yourself what you need, people will show up to support that.
Q: So self-love can actually lead to happier relationships?
A: In the truly great relationships I know, the partners don’t need each other, they contribute to each other. They don’t judge each other – they ask questions of each other. And they have this total gratitude. If you’re willing to be with your partner with no judgment, things can get greater and greater. The difficulty – and reason why we have such a high divorce rate in developed nations – is because those walls of judgments create so much separation and people don’t know what to do about it.
Q: How can we be less judgmental of our partners?
A: We were these little blobs of joy and possibility when we came into this world, and then we learned how to be in relationships from our parents, for both good and bad. Write down everything that’s not currently working that comes into your awareness over a few days. Ask yourself: ‘Is this truly my point of view, or did I buy it from Mum or Dad?’ Then take the piece of paper and burn it.
Another thing to write down is: what is working in my relationship that I took from Mum or Dad? And what would it take for these parts to get even greater?
Most of us are on autopilot during our relationships, and just by shifting your focus, you can start to change your behaviour.
Q: What else stands in the way of good relationships?
A: The thing about most people is that they’d rather be right than have a good relationship. We have such a standard of perfection for our partners and ourselves that it’s impossible to maintain.
None of us are perfect – we all screw up, we all raise our voices or get upset or storm off. When you say, “Look, you’re right, I’m wrong. I’m sorry. What can I do to make it up for the damage done?” It’s a way of repairing the relationship. Ninety-nine per cent of the time your partner will look at you and answer, ‘You just did. However, this tool is something that should be used sparingly. If you use it too often, you’re putting yourself down and it becomes self-abuse.
Q How can we deal with criticisms from our partner?
A: Instead of agreeing with them or getting defensive, react by thinking, “That’s interesting!” This helps you be present. You’re no longer trying to defend or prove yourself. You just get to be you – whatever that is.
The other thing to consider is, if you’re constantly feeling wrong in your relationship, it may not be the right relationship to be in.
Q: How can we identify if we’re in the right relationship?
A: A good way to discover if something is true for you is to see whether you feel lighter or heavier when you think about it. If a relationship makes you feel lighter, it is true – or right – for you. If you feel heavy, it means that this isn’t your truth right now.