- Sammy Jo Diffendaffer, M.S., LMFT Assoc.
🎤 I Can Let MY Hair Down 🎤
Relationships aren't meant to be confining. They aren't meant to make us feel like we have to "walk on egg shells" or that we need to "act a certain way" in order to pease our partner, or worse, to simply to maintain normalcy in the relationship. The goal for any relationship, rather, is to create an environment where each person feels free, (like the hit, 2003-release Jessica Simpson song lyrics) "I can let my hair down."
To those of you who haven't experienced the joys of such freedom in your current relationship, or any relationship for that matter, do not fear! Achieving such relational freedom and satisfaction is not an impossible feat, no matter how conflictual your relationship history has been with your current partner or with others in the past. Read more to learn what steps you can take today to begin working toward a more liberating experience within even the most close, committed partnerships or marriages.
Start by trying to UNDERSTAND the control. Whether it's you or your partner who feels the need to place added control on the relationship or to enforce boundaries around the other party's way of living, try to explore when the first instance of constraint started and around what topic the constraint was, or is commonly about.
Although jealous and controlling behaviors are well-known warning signs for unhealthy relationships, there may be a a HEALTHY way to get the relationship back to where it needs to be, if both partners are willing to work hard and address their own contributions to the relationship pattern. Let it be known that under NO CIRCUMSTANCE is physical or verbal abuse acceptable and that those acts breech the healthy boundary of personal safety in any relationship.
Examine personal insecurities and/or emotional reactivity. What is it that I am most afraid of happening in this relationship? Can I share those fears openly with my partner? What would be different if I made my deepest insecurities known and practiced complete vulnerability in my relationship? Would my partner take advantage of that information, or do I trust him or her to respond with care and concern? Is it possible this level of openness could foster a love, trust, and safety that I may have never felt before in an intimate relationship?
Although our attempts to control all factors relating to our partner are simply tactics we hope will protect the overall safety and stability of the relationship, these attempts to keep ourselves and our relationship safe are often the very thing that drives our partners completely away.
While it may feel even more terrifying to make our insecurities known to our partners, this may be one of the first steps to helping your partner understand the fear that may be driving controlling behaviors in the relationship. The more comfortable you get with yourself and the overall reliability of your partner's commitment to you, the easier it should be to work together to establish healthy levels of freedom and safety for each partner in the relationship.
If the issue cannot be resolved SEEK HELP. Relationship patterns can be complex and sometimes involve wounding from past relationships or even childhood upbringing that can be difficult to work through without help from a licensed professional. Seeking help does not mean you're admitting failure or defeat, but rather than you are willing to put in the work and utilize all available resources in order to better understand yourself and your relationship with your partner.
Don't give up without giving counseling a chance. Even if the relationship isn't salvaged, it is likely that counseling can help you gain a better understanding of what went wrong and how you can be the best version of yourself in relationships in the future.
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