Now that I’ve promised to stop talking about my ex, I guess my stories are gonna suck for a while. Don’t worry, I’ve got some dates lined up, so I’ll have better examples next week. 😉
Here are some common problems that I hear women talk about when they want a relationship:
- What if he has kids and our schedules don’t sync up?
- What if he doesn’t make as much money as I do and I want to travel?
- What if he wants to see me more than I want to see him?
- What if I’m a vegetarian and he’s not?
It’s possible to spend lots of time and energy on needing to figure out the answers to potential problems in a relationship or particular partner before we even know what the obstacles are gonna be.
The good news is, you don’t need to.
The only thing you need to do is focus on the thing you want. Speak about it in the way you DO want it, not the way you DON’T want it.
Let’s say that list of potential problems at the top is my list (which it totally isn’t because I love me some steak!), I can skip the hours of creating a problem that doesn’t yet exist, and just focus on what I want. For example, I would spend time thinking about those things this way instead:
I’m looking for a partner who feels like a match in lifestyle in terms of eating, interests, and activities. It’s important to me that we be able to see each other regularly at least a few times per week – and that that feels good to both of us.
Once I’m clear on the thing/person/relationship I do want, and articulate that, I can avoid the what if questions all together. I’ll just know it when I see it.
You don’t need to know the how, just the what
I’m a puzzle solver…I love to figure out the how. But figuring out the how (or not being able to figure it out) usually bites me in the ass. Allow me to illustrate.
For the last 2 years, I’ve lived two hours from my ex-husband. What this has meant is that our kid is enrolled in school where I live, so he gets to see his dad on the weekends. Cool, right?
Well, sort of. Our son has special needs, and the last couple of years have been rather, um, intense, to say it succinctly. So all things relating to school, therapy, doctors, and anybody else that interacts with him have all fallen under my responsibilities.
I love my son, and I have a great attitude, but it’s a rather heavy load. And I realized yesterday that I’ve just accepted that load as mine because it’s what the circumstances dictate. If I were looking at the issue as a “how to solve this problem” question, my questions would have looked something like this:
- How do I get free from doing hours of paperwork and meetings every month for my kid?
- How do I get my kid’s dad to spend more time with him?
- How do I get more breathing room?
- How do I get to do some of the things in life that I really want to do, but seem pretty impossible right now (and for the foreseeable future)?
If I had pondered any of those questions, I would still be all twisted up about them. They aren’t answerable in a one-sided fashion.
Instead of trying to solve the “how” of how to feel more supported in parenting and managing all that this kiddo comes with, I just started with what I want.
Last night my ex and I had a phone chat, and I just put it out there. I said, “I want to parent less and I want you to parent more. How can we do that?”
And now, my friends, we are a having a very different conversation than conversations that have felt possible before. (I don’t know the outcome yet, but I’ll keep you posted.) The point is, when you don’t know the how, and you lead with the what, you open up options that you probably didn’t see before.
Start with what you want.
That’s it. The next time you find yourself coming up with all kinds of reasons something won’t work, just pause and start with what you want. Do it here. In the comments below, tell me something you’ve been thinking won’t work, and just tell me what you want instead. Then focus on that!