January 9, 2019

Normalizing Relationship Ambivalence

First, please know that it is totally normal and natural to have second thoughts or ambivalence in your relationship! Yes, really. Contrary to what Disney […]

By Annie Wright|Relationship
barefoot woman on beach
First, please know that it is totally normal and natural to have second thoughts or ambivalence in your relationship!
Yes, really. Contrary to what Disney movies, Rom-Coms, and most pop songs teach us, love and being with the “right” partner doesn’t always look like fireworks or being certain about the other.
Many of us will feel a certain degree of ambivalence, doubt, or have second thoughts in our relationship and it’s important to know that you’re not alone in this nor does this necessarily mean this relationship is necessarily the wrong one for you to be in.
Second thoughts and ambivalence can be present for a wide variety of reasons and will vary depending on the person having them. A few examples of why this may occur include:

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1) Unreasonable relationship expectations. You may have never learned what healthy, reasonable relationship expectations look like so if you have a story that you’re going to be 100% happy 100% of the time with this person, you’re bound to be disappointed when they (inevitably) don’t make you happy. This experience of disappointment without considering more realistic relationship expectations to normalize the experience can cause second doubts.
2) And mood disorder, unresolved grief or trauma on your end. If you have an anxiety or depression mood disorder, or unresolved trauma or grief or other emotional dysregulation challenges, part of your ambivalence and second-thoughts may be a result of your own emotional distress. Consider working with a therapist to see if resolving and healing any emotional distress you may have that’s contributing to your unhappiness in the relationship.
3) It’s a big deal to consider committing to one person! This I can’t stress enough – picking a person to partner with for your life (or at least the foreseeable future) is a big deal! It’s an important and weighty decision and it’s appropriate to be mindful of the enormity of the situation. That’s why I feel strongly about normalizing second-thoughts and ambivalence as a normal and natural part of the process of figuring out if you want to stay with someone or not. Those thoughts are appropriate to the situation.
Now, a sign that you may be with the right person even if you have doubts is what I call the airport test:
Imagine you decided to break up with this person, now imagine dropping this person off at the airport, knowing that you are sending them on their way and that you will never see or hear from them again, deeply imagine into this and pay attention to the physical sensations that arise in your body.
Do you feel sad, devastated, maybe even a little panicky? Or do you feel relieved, happy, or still very ambivalent?
When we imagine into a future that doesn’t involve this person, we can collect clues about how we authentically feel about this person.
These feelings, combined with mindful self-reflection, time, and working on any internal or external factors that you or they may be contributing to the relationship to cause unhappiness can be powerful in helping you work through any questions and doubts you ultimately have about the relationship.

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