Recently I wrote about how we can often end up in situations that in our mind feel like we’re in a relationship because they have what appear to be the hallmarks of one, but they’re actually a casual relationship.
This is incredibly frustrating for the average person because they wonder how on earth they can be crazy about someone, share a number of the same interests, feel deep attraction, have sex and contact over a period of time, and still not be in a bondafide committed relationship.
These situations happen because we are looking for the hallmarks of a relationship (what we feel are the markings such as regular sex, stuff in common, being introduced, talking about the future etc) but we’re not looking for the landmarks of a relationship (the substance): When someone has limited access to their emotions and has limits to how much they will let you in, you cannot have genuine intimacy in your relationship.
I receive hundreds of emails each year where the person claims a deep connection – feeling connected through dysfunction and/or sex and attraction is not the same as intimacy.Big Question: Am I genuinely emotionally available? If one or both of you can’t even commit to feeling out your emotions whether they’re good, bad, or indifferent, not only does this throw a monkey wrench in the works for intimacy, but it will be another symptom of a general commitment resistance.Without commitment, someone gets to enjoy the trappings of a relationship without accountability and responsibility – why buy the cow when you can drink the milk for free?Unfortunately, if you don’t wise up about your uncommitted relationship, you will expect from it as if you are committed.With commitment resistance, one or both of you, whether it’s in an obvious or more subtle, passive aggressive manner, do things that undermine decisions that you appeared to have committed to.
Big Question: Do both of us have both feet in this relationship or are one or both of us, actively or quietly resisting it?If your expectations have been managed down, you’ll notice that you’re normalising bad behaviour and that’s because they’ve become consistent at being inconsistent and doing counterproductive, often painful things. With a lot of unhealthy relationships, it’s with one hand they giveth and with the other they taketh away.You go through a good spell and then just in case you’re under any illusions that your relationship is going somewhere or that they might be this way all the time, they disappear or start treating you really crappily.In an unhealthy relationship, you’ll rarely feel like you’re standing on solid ground because with the blowing hot and cold, the highs and lows, you come to expect that problems lie around the corner – you can’t truly relax.You may also feel that with the slightest ‘wrong’ move, the relationship can tip into shark infested waters.Big Question: Looking back over the course of the relationship, have they been positively consistent in who they are and are any and all assumptions I started out with or made, holding true and consistent? That means they can’t be on one person’s terms, no one should be on a pedestal, you shouldn’t feel like you have little or no ‘power’ or boundaries, the drama needs to be infrequent, and you both need two feet in because if one or both of you have so much as a toe out, the balance tips.