Two weeks ago, I was scrolling through Facebook – as is expected of any normal human being in this day and age. A video shared by Christa Courtenay caught my attention. It was about relationships. This lead to a multitude questions in my head as I often find myself seeking to gain golden advice on healthy relationships.
The video was titled “How to love genuinely without attachment.”
Attachment causes suffering.
It’s not just attachment to people but also to time, places, things, and/or events.
It’s attachment. Period.
As the video played, I felt a bit confused – quite possibly taking things too literally. This especially pertained to moments when the speaker talked about holding love gently. Where intimate relationships are concerned, I tend to hang on for dear life and it inevitably leads to the death of it. Contrary to what one might assume by that statement, it’s not that the other person runs away but instead that I mostly do … that I see myself as clinging to love, not getting it back in the same way and checking out when I don’t. It’s this “All In” or “All Out” mentality that is not always conducive to a successful relationship.
This is not ALWAYS the case… more of a general overview when I look back on my love life.
Here are a series of questions I often have about relationships in general.
What are reasonable expectations in a healthy relationship?
When issues arise, where is it you and where is it me? (though I’m pretty sure it’s you boo lol)
How do I know the difference?
Shouldn’t this just flow easily or do all relationships require work?
How can I taper my trust issues or better yet end them?
Isn’t the onus on him to do things I need him to do so I can feel safe?
What do I need to learn to have a long, successful relationship?
And, finally… Um, Soulmate?
While I don’t regret leaving any of my past relationships or in one case, accepting when the end was dealt to me (THE NERVE!), I often reflect on how I could grow from the things I’ve learned and how I could have been a better partner.
After viewing the clip, I felt the urge to look more closely at Christa’s profile and realized she is a therapist.
Not only did I realize I should ask her to shed some light on the video and healthy relationships, but I wondered why we weren’t besties so I can get free counseling?
I reached out to ask if we could talk about the video and all the questions that ensued.
I wanted to learn so I can share also.
She was game!
LIGHTS. CAMERA. ACTION.
I could have talked to Christa for hours.
Question after question kept forming in my mind, besides the 15 I emailed to her that we didn’t even really touch on.
Her knowledge and the way she explained things felt so much simpler than they did inside my complex mind. I gave her an example of a recent text I’d composed which I thought was very well written. She summed it all up in two sentences. “Wow,” I said… “Amazing.”
“You suck at communication” I whispered to myself, rolling eyes included.
Not to worry, my internal language is constantly being worked on. If nothing else, at the very least, I am aware.
Looking at my notes, it is clear our conversation went from one thing to the next and surely I added to the frenzy of it by the way the questions flowed. While the point of the video was to hold gently to love, my questions seemed to be based more on finding a balance between whats reasonable in relationships, considering this concept of non-attachment.
Either way, I learned… and I hope to have a few more interviews with Christa.
Human behavior fascinates me.
Why we do the things we do – always and forever seeking to understand this.
Here are the main pieces of golden advice on healthy relationships you may want to consider:
Read the Book “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus” by John Gray, PhD.
Essentially, the core differences between men and women are what contribute greatly to the fundamental tension between the genders and how we understand and interpret each other. This, combined with astrological considerations (if you’re into that), how you grew up, life experiences, models, personality traits and how you put your OOTD together (hahaha kidding) will all affect the flow of your relationship. All these things shape us and we tend to act on them unconsciously.
Some core differences we discussed:
– Women tend to present their needs in the form of a question.
– Men tend to answer the question asked, so think wisely before asking.
– Women tend to be argumentative and a bit “mothering” in their approach to men
– Men cope with this by distancing themselves or finding solace elsewhere.
– Women have a fundamental need to be heard.
– Men have a fundamental need to feel competent.
– Women tend to ramble on which can be overwhelming for men.
– Men filter what’s being said: complaint or need? How do I fix it?
We can establish healthier relationships by increasing our understanding of how men and women operate. Traumas and life situations will cause our scanners or filters, as Christa words it, to read signals differently. This can cause an array of misunderstandings and miscommunication.
Reward System Works for Men
Classic conditioning is the way to go. He does well, he gets positive reinforcement (i.e verbal praise, extra time in the man cave whatever he responds to. Often times, simply noticing and saying something like “thank you for doing that, it felt good” works just fine).
Even “The Secret” audios talk about this – for all relationships… the more you focus on the good, the more of the good you get. This is not to say that unhealthy or abusive behaviors are overlooked. These are tips and traits for the general construct of relationships and the potential success of them.
Emotional Intelligence is Key
I didn’t even know this was a thing. Christa sums it up to say that emotionally intelligent people understand how they themselves are impacted by their own emotions, and how their actions may impact the emotions of someone else. They also understand how to be emotionally flexible. Most importantly, they also understand the importance of communicating in a healthy way to get their message across. I interpret this to mean “no games”.
Even Healthy Relationships Take Work. (Sigh)
Here I was thinking Christa knew where my soulmate was and had the map!
Relationships bring a personal challenge and enhance personal growth.
Something to note is that being in touch with and in charge of your own needs is ideal so that you can teach someone how to take care of you. The trick is discovering the balance between reasonable and unreasonable requests.
Here are some basic questions to ask yourself when determining the general health of your relationship:
Does it harm me in any way to give him or her what is needed or wanted?
How does he or she communicate with me when I fall short of their needs?
How does he or she treat me on the days I don’t do what is needed or wanted?
People Tend to Jump into Relationships Without Knowing Themselves
Christa equates getting into a relationship with getting into a business and having no clue about the market. We tend to go by this “gut feeling” that are mostly based on impulses of what feels good in the moment. This approach doesn’t give much thought to long term outcomes. We then tend to defy our intuition thinking that we can just “make it work.”
This is a common mistake and she feels the “make it work” concept is best reserved for people who are already in committed relationships. Oftentimes, we are not taught how to self-reflect or self-evaluate our own intentions, or tried and failed methods of getting our needs met.
We think if we do good or have good intentions that it would be enough.
Many Times, there’s a Misunderstanding of Reasonable Expectations
It’s pertinent that we take time to consider how we want to feel in relationships and the type of attention we want. We can rewire our brains if we so wish. It’s about learning who we are, what works for us and most importantly what is healthy and what isn’t. This is why therapy is so vital to our growth. It would be my guess that 100% of people in the world could use or may have used therapy at some point in their lives.
TRUST Means “I trust you not to intentionally hurt me”
This was a bit much for me to take in.
I always thought trusting someone meant that person would never do anything to cause hurt, period. If your partner has done something to warrant your lack of trust then that’s something to pay attention to and attempt to work though, either on your own or with the help of a professional. If you are just not trusting (via your own scanner) then you may want to seek professional help on your own before attempting to address this in the context of a relationship.
(*puts Christa on speed dial)
While the point of the video was understanding how to love gently and how that is very different from simple attachment, it triggered questions I constantly dance with. My yearning to expand and grow internally stemmed from learning to be alone. In that space, I understood so much about myself. However, as a new relationship would find me, I’d be faced again with the areas in me that still require light.
Attachment does not quantify love
The gift would be to arrive at this space where attachment does not quantify love. This entails learning to look at ourselves, learning to let things be but having a clear understanding of who we are and what our needs are. Gently holding on to someone doesn’t mean allowing them to walk all over you in any way, shape or form.
It means not being too strongly attached to a scripted outcome, being able to let things flow in and out freely, as well as knowing that if a relationship is harmful to you, you are also free and capable of letting it go.
Oh, if only it were that simple. Mooji says it is. What does he know!
If you’d like to consider counseling in Belize for yourself, your family, or a friend, I encourage you to contact Christa Courtenay, M.A. Click here for email. She’s presently working in Belize and has plans to expand to include online services in the future. Counseling is a personal journey full of exploration and learning, and is something we can all use. There’s no shame in personal growth!
What is one of the key things you have learned about relationships?