Everyone wants to meet his or her Soulmate … “the one.” Many of us spend years obsessing about meeting our soul mate. Still, we fail to realize that we are asking for perfect love from imperfect people, such as ourselves.
A simple idea about a soul mate is that once we meet them, our life will be more fulfilled. However, the magnetic attraction we feel when we meet our soul mate can also indicate that we are about to enter into a relationship that will turn our world upside down. This is because a soul mate is someone who, in meeting them, forces our consciousness to evolve, and this inspires personal growth. We transform from the conflict that is involved in the relationship.
- If the conflict becomes too extreme, and neither of the partners change, then that partner was not our soul mate, and we need to leave an unhealthy situation.
- However, if the soul mate keeps inspiring personal growth, this is when they can turn from the concept of “the idealized soul mate” into “real-life partners.” A new kind of intimacy has emerged, one that can promote self-discovery, self-esteem, and personal growth like never before.
The paradox of love is that once we have moved beyond the infatuation stage, our most intimate relationships are also our most challenging experiences. People often hold the notion that true love should be free of friction, ruptures, or conflict. This is an unrealistic and unattainable ideal because, in fact, the closer we become with our intimate partners, the more our own personal issues and core wounds begin to surface.
Our unconscious relational patterns of blaming the other, being dramatic, threatening, or withdrawing from your partner are behaviors that we all enlist to secure the resource of love. The resulting relational conflicts can be disconcerting if viewed as a sign that the relationship is falling apart. Yet such struggles often signify that it is time to dig in and do the work of REAL LOVE. If this sounds like uncharted territory, do not despair, there is a map for navigating the path of “real-life partnerships.”
Ten Tools to Cultivate Growth Centered Intimacy
1. Safety first: You and your partner must feel safe before you can be vulnerable enough to share your fears, dreams, and life visions. This happens by creating a couple bubble where you and your partner are each other’s first thought, first phone call, and priority.
2. State your needs and feelings clearly and be willing to accommodate your partner’s needs. In knowing your partner’s needs and meeting them, you are loving a person the way they need to be loved, and this fosters trust.
3. Commitment is king. Show signs of commitment by being willing to be influenced by your partner, and by being open, adaptive, and flexible. Staying rigid in your old defensive patterns and behaviors keeps your relationship stuck in cement.
4. Share fondness, admiration, and respect for each other, which builds an abundant bank account of positive interactions. This love money in the bank is a cushion for the inevitable ruptures in your relationship. According to psychologist and relationship expert John Gottman, it takes five positive interactions to make up for one negative one.
5. Accept that your experience of love with your partner will be messy and imperfect. However, it is in working through the messiness of relationships that love can grow and deepen.
6. Become an expert on how you and your partner are wired for love, through therapy, reading, or reflection. Be mindful and empathic about your partner’s inner world of thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. The experience of feeling felt by another fosters faith in love.
7. Understand that to be in a couple, you must also maintain your own identity and a healthy separateness. With this understanding, intimacy can support both you and your partner in reaching your unique potential.
8. Learn how to fight productively and manage conflict. Know the 4 horsemen that sabotage a relationship— (1) contempt, (2) criticism, and their responses, (3) defensiveness, and (4) stonewalling.
9. Make the time to accomplish goals together, or have at least one shared activity, to encourage bonding. Bonding is a continual process of renewal and growth.
10. Explore and have fun with sex. Sex is an integral part of love relationships. When you feel safe with your partner, you can experiment and keep the passion burning.
With love, XXOO,