"If it ain't broke don't fix it!" Are risk-minimizing strategies creating more pain than gain in your relationship?

Many of us have been there - had our hearts broken by people who were careless with our most tender and vulnerable feelings. We emerged from the experience vowing  to learn from it - "Never again, I'll make sure I don't .... (place here your most embarrassing memory of saying or doing something that was received with scorn, contempt or rejection)"

The problem is, your current partner may have an issue with the fact you don't:-

  •  share your innermost feelings
  • say what you really think about an issue that is really bugging you (but they sense you're uncomfortable and need you to talk about it)
  • let them know when you're needing nurturing, support or comfort

Your heart (and 'lizard brain' - the part that is concerned with survival and maintaining emotional equlibrium) may not yet have caught up with the fact that this time, your partner is capable and willing to receive your softer self with care and compassion.

If you recognize yourself in the following list, it's possible that your partner is feeling that you're unreachable. S/he may be unsure of how you really feel about her/him - in other words, your strategies to keep yourself emotionally protected may be creating the very problem you were trying to avoid in the first place - that is, risking the security of your most important relationship.

Do you:-

  • refuse to open up about what is bugging you, even after repeated questions from your partner?
  • take the 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' attitude in order to avoid the crucially important work of working through conflict - a key component to making relationships long-lasting and healthy?
  • avoid opportunities to say how you feel about your partner, express your dreams and fantasies about your future together - out of a fear that your partner may not feel the same way?

I'm sure you could add many more 'risk-minimization strategies' to this list! If you are doing any of these things, chances are your partner may be feeling unsure about your feelings for him/her, insecure about your future together, or even doubting that s/he can trust her/his feelings about what drew you together in the first place.

Attempted solutions to one problem can create a secondary set of problems in a different situation. If you are in this position, you have a difficult choice to make - will I risk my heart again or play it safe? You may need to 'test the waters' in a way that feels like you're not risking too much, at least initially.

You might try:-

  •  telling your partner about a small thing that's bugging you about your relationship. Be careful with your language too - be factual about the issue, and state how you feel about it (rather than what's wrong with her/him).
  • letting your partner know you're prepared to talk about an issue you know may lead to conflict - choose an issue that's of low/moderate importance to you, rather than one where you aren't sure about what you'd do if you don't get the response you wish for.
  • telling your partner something you really appreciate about them.
  • sharing a dream you have for your future together.

It's OK to be somewhat 'risk-averse' in your relationship - after all, the stakes are high! But real intimacy can only be created together by taking some risks. Intimate relationships are not for the faint-hearted! It's a courageous thing to do, but the potential rewards are worth it!


Until next post, Vivienne


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