#039 - Uncertainty in Relationships

Have you ever thought: “There’s no way this relationship is going to work out!” or, “I’m just too wounded to be in a long-term romantic relationship,” or, “How did I end up with this person? I’ve made a horrible mistake”? If so, you have you have experienced uncertainty in relationship. Something about the situation, yourself, and/or your partner has invoked a feeling of instability and you realize the future of your romantic life is uncertain.  

Maybe you are in a long-distance relationship, or one of you has kids from another marriage, or the object of your affection is still married to another person. Your religion, political view, and temperament may be contrary to your partner. You may have experienced a traumatic childhood, suffer from anxiety or depression, or have a chronic illness, all of which leaves you feeling broken and wounded. Your partner may have (or develop) an addiction, or some characteristic that seemed cute at the beginning of your relationship might seem like a major flaw a few months or years down the road. You may get a dream job in another state, or fall in love with the barista at the local Starbucks while you have a husband and kids at home. You or your partner may come out as bisexual, queer, transgender, asexual, polyamorous, monogamous, straight or any identity that might challenge your current relationship’s arrangement, identity, or orientation. And a thousand more things could happen that rock your boat, and not in a fun way!

The reality is that your situation is uncertain and unknowable. You are deeply flawed and so is your partner. This is all ok! All relationships are uncertain. All people, including you, have big blind spots and wounds. So how do we continue to love (ourselves and our partners) when we get scared, when we don’t know what the future will hold?

When we experience uncertainty in relationship, with ourselves, and our partners, we might freak out. Love is the last thing on our mind. We think that security and assuredness are essential for a relationship to work. So when the groundlessness arises, we do our habitual thing: we blame, withdraw, worry, criticize, rage, make a rash decision, get high, have a panic attack, sleep, eat, whatever will help us gain the illusion of stability.

Unfortunately, while we are acting out these coping behaviors, we are actively moving away from loving our partners and ourselves. The love and security we actually need to navigate in this life are found in the midst of the uncertainty -- right in the middle of all that mucky, uncomfortable, not-knowing-what’s-going-to-happen-next place. We will have to practice slowing down and get to know the very feeling we are trying to run from. If we can become familiar with that feeling of uncertainty, practice saying that internal “yes” to it, and lessen our reaction to it, then we give ourselves a chance to experience the full spectrum that life offers us. And I get it; no one wants to hang out with that feeling.  But it’s worth it. As we open to the reality of our situation -- that it has always been, and will always be uncertain -- we can learn about love and the reality of living these fragile human lives. From that place we can make decisions that are aligned with our authentic selves, we can enjoy what is happening now, rather than fear what might be, and we can see that security and certainty are not all they’re cracked up to be.

This is the work of a lifetime. No one can do it for you. No matter if you are in romantic relationship or not, this uncertainty will find you! So why not embrace the challenge? You may come out on the other side with a deep knowing and trust that is truly amazing, even though you had to face some really uncomfortable and painful things to learn it!