You know the drill. You find a great potential mate, you totally hit it off, and you happily head down the path of being in a relationship. At first, it’s fun, but then it starts to feel like a drag. When you start to feel like you can’t have both the life you love and a great partner in it, it’s a good time to look at whether this one belief is holding you back.
Do you believe that a relationship can be created so that both partners can have what they want most of the time?
Modern society is obsessed with winning and losing. While it’s not ideal for connection and relationships, we see it played out constantly in the real world. This paradigm originates from beliefs around scarcity – the idea that in order to have what you want, it will be depriving someone else from what they want.
Sounds simple enough to say, “Oh yeah, of course I don’t want my relationship to be like that.” But the truth is, it shows up subtly in many places.
Even if these arrangements work perfectly well, and serve both partners, through a lens of scarcity, they can appear to be a win/lose situation:
- You cook dinner while he reads on the couch.
- You’re making the money while he’s being creative.
- You want to go on vacation, but your partner can only join you for part of the time.
When does scarcity show up?
Scarcity rears its head when you are depleted, tired, and you needs aren’t being met (either by your partner or on your own). And even though these states may be temporary, the habits that are borne from them can be lasting if you’re not aware of them.
Deep down, you know that when you get what you want or your partner gets what they want, you both win. However, in moments of feeling tired and depleted, there are a few things that get in the way:
- Acting like your partner doesn’t want you to have your needs met (or thinking that you getting your needs met require them to sacrifice.)
- Getting scared you can’t have your needs met.
- Having your feelings hurt because you take it personally.
- Feeling like you don’t deserve to have your needs met.
What happens when you act from scarcity in relationships?
Resentment builds. You start tallying all the wins and losses and comparing whether it’s your turn to get what you want or your partner’s.
Ultimately, love doesn’t flow freely because you become more focused on give and take in a controlled and even manner than what the generative thing for the relationship is at the moment.
When you approach a person you love as the enemy who is always trying to pull one over on you, it doesn’t allow you to let their love in because you’ll feel defensive. Additionally, there is no way you can feel good about meeting their needs, supporting them, or even considering that the thing they want is the thing you want, too.
Read to ditch scarcity? Practice this regularly.
It’s an old idea from improv comedy. Incorporate the “Yes, and…”
Have you ever watched two kids make up a game? One starts with an idea, “Let’s go play in the tree house!” The other child adds to it, “We’ll be unicorns in the treehouse!” They keep building on the yeses to find a game where they both get to have the experience they want to have, together.
Mix together your ideas with your partner’s: old ones, new ones, tame ones, crazy ones. Ask for what you want, make offers to your partner to give them what they want, and encourage your partner to do the same. When it’s not quite right, counter-ask and counter-offer. Keep saying yes and adding to it to keep finding the place where you get to have the experience you want to have, together.
And, above all, remind yourself that your relationship is at it’s best when you both win.