There is an outside threat that bleeds its way through the fragile cracks of every intimate relationship.
Sometimes the threat can be social media.
Sometimes the threat can be a persistent ex-lover.
Sometimes the threat can be an anxious parent that tries to give relationship advice.
Sometimes the threat can be a close friend that wont give enough space for the new relationship to rightfully bloom.
Outside threats can create enormous conflict in a relationship.
When we try to dismiss their (very real) presence, we do a major disservice to our partner … to our relationship.
We fail majority here when we we don’t show our partner that their fears are important to us.
“I don’t have that fear.”
“That’s crazy … we have been broken up for 4 years!”
“Why are you making this such a big deal?”
Here is perhaps another way we can approach these moments ...
“I don’t have that fear … but I can see that it’s really important for you … how can I help you with this … help me understand what this means to you. I’m here.”
“It makes sense why that would feel threatening for you … especially because of some of the childhood experiences you’ve shared with me.”
What threatens our partner must be important to us.
We have to be willing to get curious about what these threats MEAN to them.
We have to make effort to understand the pain that lives underneath what is being spoken.
In fact, the way we approach and handle these outside threats or (thirds) as Stan Tatkin calls them … can make or break a relationship.
When our partner shows jealousy … do we soothe them and remind them that there no romantic connection in a non-judgmental and caring way?
When our partner shows discomfort with our time spent on social media … do we make adjustments?
When our partner expresses discomfort about our parents meddling into the relationship … do we set the necessary boundaries to protect the energy of the relationship?
Not every situation requires us to make an actual change … but some situations do.
Some situations simply need tenderness and patience … while others require us to come up with new agreements that both partner’s can feel safe in.
We can do a great deed by simply changing how we hear and respond to our partner’s sensitivities.
That gift alone can help dissolve many fears over time.
It can even help expand our partner’s ability to feel safe and stretch into new areas … in ways they never even knew was possible.
Don't we want to give that to them?
And if we are being really honest with ourselves ... don't we want the same thing too?