Recently I’ve been getting quite a lot of messages from women whose relationship have crashed and, not surprisingly, feel devastated.
Those were fairly long relationships and, even then, they were all sorts of reasons why they felt unhappy, mostly because their partner didn’t meet some of their basic needs.
The latest one was concerned with lack of commitment. Jenny and her partner had been together for nearly 6 years when she said something about him not being committed to their relationship.
Then, to my surprise, she added that he hadn’t been committed to his previous partner of 17 years!
If Jenny was anything like me when they first got together she must have believed it would be different with her. I know I really believed Jim, the man I went on to marry, was just waiting for the right woman and that that woman was me. I actually believed I could change him.
Well, I have to admit, I beat my head against the proverbial brick wall for 37 years before I finally threw in the towel.
Last week I gave a talk at The Story Party which was co-founded by my dear friend Bev Glick 4 years ago. The theme this month was love and I told the story of how I chose Jim. This story was intended as a warning on how NOT to choose a life partner and I will be posting it when I get it hopefully in the next couple of weeks.
Like far too many women – and far too many men too – the one thing I didn’t know at the time was what I need to be happy in a relationship because I never gave it any thought.
I knew nothing of the 5 fundamental needs identified by William and Carleen Glasser in their ground breaking book ‘Getting Together and Staying Together’ from which I quoted in my own book, ‘Open Your Heart: The 7 Secrets of Strong And Loving Relationships’, from p. 98 (available on Amazon – http://ow.ly/UEt230icofX)
In my book I compared those needs to my relationship with Paul, my partner of just over two years to understand why it works so well.
But the journey towards recognising him as the right man for me started long before we met.
By then I knew what I needed to be happy in a relationship, for example, I have a strong need for love and belonging having been emotionally neglected in my marriage to Jim.
So I knew that that meant a man with a similar level of need for love and belonging.
In the beginning, when you don’t know each other you can find out by paying attention to how he talks about his family, his friends and even his work colleagues – does he speak about them warmly or critically?
This is important because sooner or later they will treat you the way they treat other people.
Or when someone you just met likes to spend more time with their friends than with you, after the first flush of romance is over. This means that their need for freedom is much stronger than yours.
Like Jenny who hadn’t given any thought to whether or not commitment was important to her, I didn’t pay attention to the fact that, at 30, Jim had very few friends or that he was a loner who enjoyed his own company.
If you already are in a relationship then, if the difference in the level of need is not too far apart, there may be room for coming closer together but, if the difference is too big as was the case with Jim and me in terms of strength of need for love and belonging and Jenny’s strength of need for commitment then both will be unhappy – one feeling neglected and the other pressured.
Most unhappiness could have been avoided if we’d known ourselves well enough before jumping into the relationship.
But knowing ourselves isn’t enough. We also have to understand the needs of the person we’re with.
The good news is that, even if you’ve been together for several years, you may be able to re-energise your relationship once you figured out what you need to be happy, what your partner needs to be happy and whether they care enough to do something about it.
My book goes into great detail about how to make changes in your relationship but, if you’re the one who’s unhappy, you will also have to be the one to take the initiative and my book shows you exactly how to do that.
So this is what I suggest.
Buy my book http://ow.ly/UEt230icofX, follow the guidelines and then let me know how it worked for you because I would love to know.
With love and gratitude,
P.S. I coach women over 50 enabling them to become more confident and make it easier for true love to find them.
P.P.S. My third book, ‘Open Your Heart: The 7 Secrets Of Strong And Loving Relationships’ is now on Amazon and getting 5* reviews!