Introspection does not come easy to any of us. The fact is that adulting often makes us lose touch with our own selves. Very few consciously take stock of how the environment around us influences and changes us. In my sessions, 95% of my clients are unable to list five qualities they like and dislike about themselves; or, why they react to certain situations the way they do. Will a single person, in this state of mind, be able to make the right choice of a partner?
What is it that keeps us from knowing ourselves? What is it that we are scared of? Perhaps, it’s the fear of what we might find, and whether we will be able to accept and fix it. What’s important to know is that to be accepted by someone, we must accept ourselves first. Those who are able to do that, lead their lives with a certain confidence, especially where relationships are concerned.
“I am too anxious around women due to my past experiences,” that’s the first sentence my 32-year-old client R, a technology professional based out of Bengaluru, says in our first session. This statement is quite telling—it shows that R has been working on himself, and has identified and accepted that he needs to address this issue in order to find a partner. It took R six months of consciously observing and correcting his thought process when he met women socially. It is after this that he took a step further by going on dates and eventually entering into a committed relationship.
For forty-year-old T, a Delhi-based entrepreneur, the journey of self-discovery is different from R’s. For the last four years, she has been in a situationship with M, with who she is madly in love. M.R. spends all his free time with her, advises T on all aspects of her life—profession, finance, which car to buy etc. They have great sex. But even after all that, M denies that he is in a relationship with T He calls her a good friend and says he is very sure that he will not be in a relationship with her. In these four years, T has tried to distance herself twice from him. But each time there is some medical emergency—either with M or his family—T goes running back to him. She has realised over time that intimation of medical emergencies, even in her inner circle, sends her in a tizzy and she feels responsible for the person.
T is now working to suppress the intensity of her reaction to such situations. She is seeking counselling—she has identified that this behaviour seems to be linked to losing one of her parents because of delayed medical help. It’s been a month since T asked M to not call or come over to her place. Yet he has been calling and messaging her. T has not responded or taken his call. M’s last message to T stated that his sister has taken very ill and had to be taken to the hospital. Her immediate response was to ask which hospital had the sister been taken to and if he wanted her to come.
It's no surprise that M said yes. To T’s credit, she took a step back before rushing to the hospital. She collected her thoughts, told herself that this girl’s parents and brother are there to look after her. T’s last message to M.R. was to wish a speedy recovery to his sister. T has now blocked him from all forms of communication. She is heartbroken but is also confident that being invested in M would keep her away from being in a “real” relationship.
Accepting ourselves helps us not only fix behaviour patterns that are in our control, but it also helps handle things that are not in our control. A friend of mine, with bipolar disorder, has never hidden her condition from any of us or the men she dated. The man she fell in love with and married always knew that she suffers from bipolar disorder. There have been ups and downs in her treatment in the 12 years that they have been married. But they have done an outstanding job of handling this together.
Statements like, ‘I am always falling for the wrong kind of people’ or ‘Always desiring those who are unavailable’ are indeed reflections of your own mental state. Those who say this are more often than not blaming themselves. The right way to handle this situation is to look within and then fixing what needs to be fixed.
Knowing yourself will also help you get clarity on knowing what you want in a partner. It will definitely make you sure-footed in getting what you want. Do reflect on this and step into the new year with confidence by getting to know, accept and love yourself.
This is a limited series by Simran Mangharam, a dating in and relationship coach, who can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org