The Unsung Ingredient of a Healthy Relationship

IMG_6955We worship passion. We equate love and longing. We lay prostrate to the belief that “chemistry” is at the heart of sustaining a relationship. We chase after the golden idol of attraction in all of its forms. And yet, we live in a cultural that has an abysmal success rate for healthy, loving, longterm marriages. Clearly, something is terribly askew in our understanding of what makes love last.

There are many components, of course, that comprise a healthy relationship: shared morals, values, and vision are essential; a true and basic desire for the others’ well-being; a willingness to grow and learn together, especially when the going gets rough.

But the one that stands above the rest is so simple: friendship. If you’re going to spend the rest of your life with someone, doesn’t it makes sense that you would actually like the person?

Yes, yes: I can hear the anxious-chorus singing: But my partner irritates me all the time! I know. Irritation is part of the human condition, especially when you’re highly sensitive. But that’s just the point: that despite the irritations and idiosyncrasies that drive you up the wall and make you want to jump out of your skin, something still compels you to say YES to this person. Something keeps you in. And I’m here to say that that “something” is nothing to sneeze at. That something is, in fact, a small miracle.

When my clients talk about feeling irritated with their partner I often respond with, “If you lived with your mother or your best friend for a week, how irritated would you feel?” They always smile, knowing what I’m getting at. We carry a pernicious belief that we should never feel irritated, and when we focus on the areas of struggle or imperfection, we lose sight of the unglorified and unromantic notion of simple, good, honest, basic friendship.

Friendship doesn’t sell. Friendship doesn’t inspire love ballads and romantic comedies. There’s no romantic drama in friendship, no chase that  creates the longing that creates the feeling of what we call love. Friendship is is-ness: it’s just what is. No flares. No frills. Just down-to-earth reality. It’s what a healthy marriage is made of, what Robert Johnson referred to as “oatmeal love.”

Elizabeth Berg expresses this beautifully in her novel, “The Pull of the Moon”, when the 50-year old main character is reflecting on herself during a long, midlife road trip on her own:

I wanted to be able to tell Ruthie [her daughter] how to be popular, how to make and keep friends. But I was – and still am – pretty much a loner, one who wearies of almost everyone’s company much too soon. My mother told me that when I was four, I came inside from where I’d been playing with another little girl, my first play date, and said she should go home now. Seven minutes had passed. Even when I got older, I’d be sitting with a bunch of college friends and suddenly had to leave. They were good-natured about it, they knew me. “Uh-oh!” they’d say. “Nan’s gotta go, get out of the way!” I wanted Ruthie to be different from me, to be someone who could make casual conversation without clenching her fists, who could be comfortable at a party. Well, she is that. She is quite sociable. But she’s like me, too. Thus the miracle of mothering. Thus the duck who puts her head under her wing but still watches her ducklings bustling about her, their heads held high.

Suddenly I miss the scent of Martin. Isn’t it funny, he has turned out to be the one I can be with the longest.  – pp. 95-96

I smiled broadly when I read this passage. I thought first about my highly sensitive, introverted clients who need time alone like an essential nutrient, who wither without space to turn inward and and time to reconnect with their own deepest selves, who struggle in social environments and diagnose themselves with “social anxiety.” I thought next about myself, and a vivid memory from childhood came to mind of having a friend spend the night and waking up in the morning counting the minutes until she went home. I needed my own space back. I needed to breathe my own air. And then I wondered how I would ever get married if I could barely tolerate sharing a room for one night.

I did marry, and still marvel at how much bed-space I share with not only my husband but also with my kids. And it’s not only bed space, of course: as introverts we must grow our tolerance threshold if we are going to share a daily life with intimate others, to adjust to a life without much time for silence, stillness, or curling up in bed for a day to surrender to a good depression. But the true miracle is when we find someone with whom we want to expand this threshold, someone with whom we actually like.

Life is long. A partnership these days requires that we draw upon so many aspects of ourselves: financial, social, familial, parenting, sex, household maintenance. We are business partners, sexual partners, parenting partners, and so much more. And if, underlying all of these relationships, there isn’t a basis of friendship, the rest will fall apart. For it helps enormously to basically like the person, to enjoy spending time together, to find yourself more times than not in a place of ease where the relationship just works. Again, this doesn’t mean a life without tension, conflict, and irritation; that’s par for the anxious-sensitive course. But there’s a well-being that underlies these bumps in the road, something deeper that informs and sustains the two of you. That something is a blessing to behold.

131 comments to The Unsung Ingredient of a Healthy Relationship

  • Lili

    Dear Sheryl,

    Thank you very much, very comforting as always. We do indeed underestimate the importance of friendship and intimacy in relationships. Many thanks for highlighting and reminding this to me 🙂

  • Don

    Great read. Thank you!

  • Berrylotusgirl

    This is a beautiful post, as always. 🙂 I really resonated with the idea of a shift in shared space, the ability to share life on a much more intense level than maybe we have for many moons. I wonder… What if we have a committed partner who is good to us and whom we share values and the ability to relate, but we aren’t sure of the liking? Is there a way not to grow just love (which is present in spades) but to grow like?

    • It’s difficult to like your partner when anxiety is in the way, so I encourage you to ask this question next time the anxious-veneer lifts and you’re able to see through clear eyes ;). x

    • Lauren

      I struggle with this same issue – is it possible to grow liking my partner? Sometimes I know that I do, many more times I’m not sure if I do or not. I have recently become a member of the Break Free course, but I really find it difficult to believe that it is not my truth that I have to leave my relationship. It’s the first thing I think of when I wake up, and the thought harasses me all day, almost every day. I feel like I have no choice but to leave.

  • Bran

    Hi Sheryl! Love the article. I think it’s something that is overlooked. I was with my therapist this week and he told me to stop worrying because if it’s meant to be, everything will work out and it could of provoked anxiety inside of me. Is this true or do we determine our paths?

    • “If it’s meant to be…” is a nice phrase but tends to spike the anxious mind. I personally believe that we chart our own paths when it comes to intimate partnership. We CHOOSE to love. We CHOOSE to stay or leave. We CHOOSE to grow. It’s not a superpower exerting will over our lives. It’s our own will that we have the power to exercise.

      • Bran

        One of my fears is having is that I’ll just give up or not want to be with my partner one day? Are these relevant fears or just something j shouldn’t be afraid of?

        • It’s a fear that stems from lack of self-trust as it, again, points to the belief that something greater than you will “force” you to give up. When you know yourself and like/love yourself – and, thus, your well of Self is full – you won’t fall prey to these fears anymore.

  • Hopeful

    Again, another lovely and comforting post from you Sheryl. I am an introvert too and love my ‘me’ time. I can relate so well to this post. I too seem to have a time limit I can spend with people, family included. Since moving in with my fiancé I haven’t had much ‘me’ time at all and I think this has definitely taken its toll on me but your post makes so much sense and gives me so much comfort to realize once again, that I am not alone and really have nothing to worry about 🙂

    • Yes, and it’s important to know that you can carve out me-time even in the midst of a partnership, and how essential it is to do so. Many believe that once you move in together you’re joined at the hip, and there’s some implicit fear or belief that you’re not allowed to proactively carve out private time. It’s a great habit to implement early in the relationship, and my guess is that your partner will also welcome more me-time.

  • Ashley Chapman

    This post came at the right time. My friend came to visit me for a couple of days and I was so excited but then her flight was delayed and I found myself more annoyed. I was so happy and then we hung out and then I felt that connection slipping away as if I needed my space just curl up in the covers and sleep and not be around people especially her. Now that she has left I am glad I dont have to have this energy to entertain because it really does drain me. How does an individual like myself who is introvert thrive in a world where everyone says that being social is important.

    • You bring more and more acceptance to how you’re naturally wired and let go of the belief that you “should” be more social. I also highly recommend the book “Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking.” Very validating for all introverts.

  • Anne

    Prior to marrying my husband, I worried if I was attracted to him “enough” because I didn’t feel those fireworks I felt with guys who were all wrong for me. Being with my husband felt like (and still feels like) my favorite cozy pair of sweat pants – comforting, warm, soothing, and familiar. I told a good friend after the first date that I thought my husband and I would end up being “just” friends, and her reply was, “So you’re going to marry him. You’ve been on a string of Match.com dates and you’ve never said you want to be friends with the other men.” She was right and so are you. 🙂

  • jen

    how lovely to be a “favorite pair of sweat pants”,really..even nicer if the partner gets it too.Nice article Sheryl,I often feel very comforted by your writing,you speak to my soul.Thank you!

  • Julia

    Hi Sheryl! What a lovely post! I’ve been reading you for years and read your book and took your e-course. And this past June I got married – happily and with a wide open heart 🙂 I’m 52 years old and this was my first marriage. Prior, I had many distorted beliefs including misconceptions of love and marriage. Many of your posts helped me, and I’ve learned to transition more easily over the years. We both really enjoy our friendship -and it’s the foundation. Thank you !!

  • Angela

    Hi sweet Sheryl,
    I can relate to this blog so much. What i find for me is there is a difference not liking someone when in the depth of anxiety and when your not. I have experienced this with previous guys as soon as i meet them i know i dont want to be touched and this is when anxiety is not even there. You know when you like someone. I knew i liked my husband the first moment i spoke to him on the phone. His voice was so kind and honest. And then anxiety struck but i still felt a desire to be touched. I wasnt repulsed by him at all because i found him handsome and caring. I have been happily married for 2 years with anxiety and we give each other space its important for our wellbeing. Its healthy and necessary to grow as individuals. We are not in each others pockets all the time. Dosent mean you love each other less. We both need me time its how our relationship blossoms. Xx

    • Lili

      Thank you Angela and others for sharing your thoughts, it helps me understand and appreciate my relationship with my partner better.

  • Michelle

    Hi Sheryl,
    I have a lot of anxiety about my relationship and am considering doing your course. I see a therapist already too. I got divorced and jumped into my current relationship soon after. He drinks every day and isn’t responsible with money. We are great friends a lot of the time but both go through so many ups and downs and don’t seem to connect well half of the time. I constantly feel like ending it, although he is the only man who has listened, related and cared deeply for me, and I don’t want to hurt him. I’m at a loss of what to do and over think every move I make, causing daily stress headaches. I would really appreciate your advice.

    • In your case, it may be that your anxiety is alerting you to a real problem (as opposed to an offshoot of your own need to turn inward; although it may be that as well) as you’re describing one and possibly two red flag issues with the daily drinking and the money problems. Is your partner open to couples’ therapy, or therapy on his own?

  • Bby

    Dear Sheryl

    My mind and heart become peaceful after reading this, thanks a lot Sheryl <3

    my fiance is one of Highly sensitive one,we love each other so much,its been 2 years we grow and learn together, sometimes he aware that he didnt treat me well, and apologize because of it , although he still unsure a lot and often feel distant, we're on Long distance Relationship since 5 months ago
    today we were talkin on phone it was fine, until he felt uncomfortable while we were talkin he said he felt distant, like 2 different minds.
    and my fear wall erected , and have a doubts before getting married, whether he is the right one or not, is it the red flag that I need to pay attention ?
    would you please give me some advice
    Regards

  • Carrie LaFay

    Brilliant! And beautifully said. Thank you for the reminder. As always, your writing has a calming reassurance that always leaves me more at peace 🙂

  • Aimee

    Sheryl – I often read the comments after your brilliant posts and almost always there is a comment about how your post came at exactly the right time. Well I am here today to say – thank you, I really needed this, right now. The reminder that occasional irritation is normal, that as a highly-sensitive person it is OK to need my space, and that the friendship I have with my husband is wonderful, special, and important to our growth together. Again, thank you.

  • Mich

    Once I prayed that I needed a sign that my boyfriend was the one for me as I couldn’t see it due to my anxiety clouding my emotions…The next day I woke up to Google and your blogs jumped right into my face. A year later you are still a saving grace to my relationship, like an angel sent. When anxious I feel out of love then I panic, then I think what if I don’t like him either then my anxiety spirals even more. Someone told me my boyfriend isn’t the one if I get anxious cos of it. I wanted to give her a nice wacky across the head hehehehe! In my dips I forget how it is to feel happy and when happy I forget about then dips I have. I feel like I’m a constant battle with myself but I just pray that in time these dips will get further and further apart.

    Thank you lovely Sheryl for been a saving grace to me and many others. Xxx

    • Krista

      Hi Mich,

      I can relate to this COMPLETELY. I’m having a really good week for almost two weeks now where I look back and forget the anxiousness i was feeling the weeks prior then when I get anxious again, I forget how happy I was. Just like you, I hope that these dips become further and further apart. I’ve been trying to practice mindfulness and not fully engaging in my thoughts and its definitely helping its just when your in the anxious bouts its hard to give yourself this type of advice lol

  • H

    I love this! I always call my boyfriend my best friend and he calls me his. Sometimes in my anxious brain I think we are just friends, but I have come to realise now that having a great friendship when the loving part in your relationship has slowed down is fantastic! If a couple didn’t have a friendship in their relationship and they were in the ebb part of the relationship, what would they have? No friendship? No laughing, no commen interests to share etc so having a good friendship and sometimes wondering if you are just friends when we are in the ebb part of the relationship is actually really good! It is to me anyway 🙂

  • Joanna

    Hi Sheryl,
    Another great article. This spikes me a bit because yes I am with a good loving partner. But there are normal personality traits that I do not like or irritate me or turn me off. I enjoy being with my husband but it’s not like omg we have so much fun and this was an awesome time together. It’s just normal life. Is that ok? I consider him my friend but to be honest I may consider my mom or a girlfriend more of a friend or someone I share with. Is this normal and ok?

    • Yes, when I say friendship, I don’t mean “best friend.” There just needs to be a basic level of friendship where you enjoy each other and like each other.

  • Zoe

    Great post again Sheryl. I do have one question though. Are all of your clients introverts? I do one of your course’s and I do worry sometimes as I would describe myself as very extrovert. I am not saying I don’t feel awkward cos sometimes I do but overall I like people. What I do notice is that I tire of people quite easily after being in their company for too long. I guess it’s a blessing I am far more tolerant of my fiancé compared to other people.

    Zoe xx

  • Alyssa

    Thanks for this article. I am an introvert too and feel blessed that, for some reason, my husband does not drain me after 30 minutes to an hour. He is the only person I can name who has this quality and it is part of what makes him feel special to me. As a side comment, I love the darkness……it fits perfectly with my introverted personality and allows me a season to recharge before the extroverted summer arrives.

  • R

    Thank you Shery, great post. I am highly sensitive and an extrovert. I see the truth in your writings. Is it normal to miss the chemistry? I have a basically loving relationship. We have both worked on our dysfunction and woundedness. I find myself longing for more chemistry, more passion. What do you recommend to someone in that situation?
    Thank you!

    • We start with this question: How much passion/chemistry/aliveness do you feel in your own life, in your own self? Asked another way: How much are you connecting to your own sexuality, spirituality, and creativity?

  • R

    I do have trouble with connecting to my creativity. I’m not certain what you mean in the practical about connecting to my sexuality. I’m working on deconstructing perfectionism which blocks in so many ways. I’ve made progress. Just keep working at it?

    • Yes keep asking what makes you feel alive. What fills your well. And every time you want to make your husband responsible for your aliveness, turn the mirror to face yourself.

      • Stef

        Hi R and sheryl,

        While reading through the comments I really resonated with what you were commenting about. I always feel this way in my relationship and have always tried my best to know look only to my partner to make me feel alive and so on.. I’ve tried countless things for myself but not many of them seemed to stick.. I am now more in touch with my creative side which is great and feel much better in myself.
        However I felt a bit of anxiety reading about connecting to your sexuality..
        I am a women who is dating a women and have been for 4 years. Since I’ve had this relationship anxiety one of my biggest intrusive thoughts is that I am more attracted to men and I should be with one instead. I constantly look at men and my brain will automatically try to picture myself with them and what it might be like to be in a relationship with a man.
        As I’ve been with my partner for a while and we are both women who can go without exploring sexuality for lengths of time I feel myself sometimes being tempted to explore my sexuality with a man instead.
        So naturally when I read your comments sheryl I instantly felt anxiety because you say to explore what fill your well and how to assist your sexulality without looking to your partner to help you in this area and it made me feel that maybe I should be answering to this ‘call’ for lack of a better word, to be with a man,.
        I’m not really sure if I’m getting the message all wrong but hopefully I won’t be anxious about it for too long..

  • Hi Sheryl I dont think as my husband as a friend really I see him and think of him as my husband and my partner, but we do have fun together and I do enjoy his company and we play and laugh and I do like him and his personality. Does that mean we have a basic friendship?

  • MM

    I love this Sheryl: “The true miracle is when we find someone with whom we want to expand this threshold” of how much space we introverts are willing to share or quiet we’re willing to give up. I worried for years (decades, really :)) that I “needed too much space” to be in a truly intimate relationship. And while there are times when I still struggle with asking for the space I need in my relationship, I’m generally able to ask for more of what I need with less shame about it. And it really does feel like a miracle to be with someone with whom I’m willing to share so much space. Thank you for this reminder.

  • cam

    Sheryl, i was wondering if you could maybe talk a little about being single? I know this isn’t really related to your post. I have had quite a bit of anxiety in relationships. However i have been single for over a year now and find myself very lonely for that feeling of partnership and intimacy. I find my anxiety around not finding some one and the sometimes painfulness of being alone makes me put expectations on men i really barely know and find myself disappointed by their lack of interest. Logically i know i am not being rejected when some one i don’t know isn’t crazy in love with me, but some how i feel rejected. I find myself making poor judgements and decisions about men.
    I’ve found you’re work so helpful while in a relationship. Do you have any advice to be more relaxed about being single?

  • Michelle

    Hi Sheryl,
    He is not open to self or coulple’s therapy, saying everything is just fine. I’m working hard on my self, through therapy and drifting away from him, craving being single, alone and free to develop my own self after the break up of my 16 years of marriage and now this yo yo ride 2 year relationship. He has so many issues and doesn’t see how his insecurities affect me. Being alcohol dependent, his mood swings around a lot and is jealous of me socializing with others, especially my children’s dad. I’ve actually tried to break this up a few times, asked him to move out, but he wins me over and puts a lot more effect in and promises to keep that effect up. But he becomes so negative again and talks in circles, confusing me, to think I’m to blame for all the bad between us. And convinces me to keep going with him because we have started a business together. We shouldn’t ‘keep trying’ over and over, a relationship should come more naturally, don’t you think?

    • It’s not that “it should come more naturally”. It’s that, as I said in my previous comment, there are red-flag issues all over the place, and if he’s unwilling to seek support the relationship will be toxic for both of you and it’s best to walk away.

  • Angela

    Hi Lili,
    Your so welcome! Im so glad your understanding your relationship better.It certainly dosent happen over night. It does take time to instill the reality. Especially when you stop projecting onto your partner. Sheryl has done an amazing job laying down everything on the carpet in such an honest, logic and simple way where we can all understand. Bravo Sheryl i believe she was chosen for this line of work. A very compassionate woman

  • Meg

    Your posts have helped me in some of my hardest days. As my boyfriend and I near our 7 years my anxiety builds. I tend to get anxious when I think about change and the future.. Though this post came to me at a perfect time. I prayed this morning for God to give me strength and show me a sign that everything’s OK. I checked my email and saw this. Strange how we get brought to things at the perfect time. My boyfriend is my best friend, as annoying as he may get at times, I couldn’t imagine a day without him! Thank you Sheryl!

  • Lili

    Dear angela,

    Thanks for your message, its a blessing to have found this website!
    I like the fact that you say you are happily married with anxiety..because you can be anxious and happy right? Thats the case with me i think…except when i have those ‘ what if’ moments, like seeking more feelings or holding onto certain things I think I am missing etc..but i do feel an overall sense peace in my good days which is nice.

  • Lili

    By the way i just read the book by kate kerrigan the recipes for a perffect marriage, a very good novel!

  • Michelle

    Thank-you Sheryl,
    Friends and family have said that it is a toxic relationship too. It’s been very confusing to think I have a friend, a lover, a business partner etc, then become distant and have him be jealous, irritated by the way I run the house and rude with his comments about my children. I can never read his mood and he his easily angry, which worries me. It is time I find the confidence to be on my own so he doesn’t bring me down all the time. It is hard to think I’m not to blame because I walked away from my marriage and now I’m ending another relationship. I never wanted to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I’m the one hurting and saddened that I’ve made these mistakes. Which one of your courses would best suit me?

  • Northernlass

    Relationship anxiety is… to have your mind constantly scrutinize your relationship and partner from every possible angle.

    Relationship anxiety is… to feel your body constantly tense and anxious around your partner as you are so fixated on how you are feeling or should be.

    Relationship anxiety is… wondering if you wouldn’t be better off alone, even though a relationship is all you’ve ever wanted, and your partner more than you could ever have dreamed of.

    Relationship anxiety is… having thoughts like ‘I need to break up with him now’ at crazily inappropriate moments like while he is being rushed to hospital in an ambulance, as this is the only way your mind has learned to deal with the searing anxiety of losing him.

    Courage is… refusing to turn and run in the midst of excruciating anxiety, even when it feels like it’s ripping out your insides.

    Courage is… refusing to listen to the endless chatter of your mind as it spews out reason after reason why you should leave your partner.

    Courage is…trusting in the deepest part of yourself that knew, long before the anxiety ever hit, that this person with whom you are STILL CHOOSING to do life with, is the best thing that has ever happened to you.

  • KJ

    I liked her but I’m still wondering why do I make excuses to run. It seems that I keep her around for a minimal level. I’m still figuring out why I keep distancing myself from her after a few months the moment she start to embrace me. It feels weird why I just want to talk to her for a few minutes or an hour. But sometimes it feels different when I’m with her like it’s calm and peace not that butterfly thingy.

  • Joanne

    Hi Sheryl
    I believe my partner to be my best friend. He is the one that i can rely on for sensible advice and to keep me grounded. Sometimes though he can irritate me. I am often very busy with a full time job plus studying and fitting in exercise in the evenings at weekends. Sometimes when he comes home from work I will be half way through studying and he will go on and on and on about mechanical things which I don’t really find interesting and I find myself wishing he would hurry up and finish so that i can get back to my work. Is this terrible?? I do try to listen actively but this mechanical machinery stuff is really not my thing!

  • Joanne

    sorry meant to say, he talks about his working day which will involve him describing every part of what it takes to fix machinery etc and I find it very boring! Other than that I do enjoy his company! But I find that when he comes home I feel irritated that I can’t get on with what I was doing in peace. Maybe I am not giving myself enough ‘me’ time. Obviously we live together and spend every night together, plus all weekend unless I go to see a friend. I just never seem to be alone.

  • Me and my husband share a lot of time together except from work and when he goes to the gym and I dont want to go and then he goes by himself.
    At first he was like wanting to me with me all the time but little by little we been doing good, because he understands that I need sometimes alone time and specially when I am going to get close to my period I get irritable and he he just very supportive and laughs in a good way when I get moody which makes me laugh too sometimes no big deal.
    I am still going to anxiety and get obsessed and have our relationship under a the loop but I can see myself being more relaxed as well I find him cute as where before I went through a period where I thought he was not attractive and I did see what Sheryl says that if your not feeling well with yourself or your scared or numbed you will see your partner as you are feeling, because now that I am a little more relaxed although still with anxiety like I said I think he is too cute, I like him, I laugh more with him, I can be more goofy and me more playful more relaxed I think, I dont know if that is connection or what but also I feel more relaxed even sexually with him as where before I just felt shut down.
    These are just some of the observations I have noticed and of course my ego wants to tell me ” maybe your feeling more connected because something is wrong with you” and I can hear those voices I also hear ” you cant be feeling too good, you havent done too much work on yourself to be more relaxed” and then the whole thing about the Persuers- Distancer thought-loop hit me, and I thought “maybe I am feeling more relaxed to my husband because we are playing that dynamic, maybe I am becoming emotionally dependent” “maybe its not love but dependency”.. ” maybe is not love but attraction” blah blah blah. and I let myself get into that emotional loop trying to analyze our relationship with the fear to find that it may be truth. Yet another part of me says “I dont think thats your case and why cant you just enjoy that your relationship is connecting more as you grow together for now”.
    I discussed my fears with my husband and he says that its another loop that I am going through and that he has notice that those things happen to me, I grab into things I hear or fears that grab my WS, like before I went through the fear of ” what if we are not friends” or What if our relationship does have the same core values or we are not in the same page” and I know I approach all this in fear because the main reason of the fear is that I dont want to find that our relationship is not a good relationship because I dont want to loose him; but yet fear is convincing because it tells me well but what if you are not a healthy marriage and then I start fearing it and analyzing it because I dont want that to be truth.
    The point here is that as I starting accepting my life right now and that with doubts or not this is a good relationship and letting go of fantasies and understanding and mostly grieving that I could not have it all I began to let go of all those fantasies I had and I relaxed more. I realized that the point of life is not looking for those longings and acting on them but realize that I wanted all those external things ” fantasies” but in reality I didnt have them, and I had in front of me the person who was showing me love right now and who was being patience with my doubts and who that man who little by little show me that it was safe to express my fears and would not freak out about them and wanted to leave and thats what was real, thats what is real and all those external things I wished to do alone before nothing but a way for me to demostrate myself that I could do it because I was lacking of value of who I was without those things, because I was in the DOING MODE, and that I could still do some of those things with the support of my husband. I could not get a job that I dreamed of but with the perfect apartment and the perfect dog, but really if I did have that, I would be wanting what I have now, and so I decided to take a cake decorating class on saturday, its artistic and fun and I can do cakes for those I like and surprise my husband.
    All am saying is that I am grateful that though its been hard its been mainly because its about me, not him, because he is there available for me to open up and now its my turn to do the same, we are very alike and it helps alot, but there will be struggles of course and grieving the fact that you didnt have the life you fantasied of but you have the choice to create the life that deep inside you do want and long for.

    Thank you Sheryl and I am sure I will keep bogging you with my questions but the truth is you have been a blessing for our relationship and thank you for all you do.

  • Sheryl would you say that when you feel more relaxed and more like laughable and like a little bit of joy and playful that, that is being connected to your aliveness even if its a little bit although still a little anxious ? because I feel like a feeling in my chest and more like joyful and relaxed and I feel like more like attracted and happy with my husband, more playful and joyful and just a little more relaxed and which makes us have more fun and I enjoy our time together more and I am more attracted to him and I think he is cute and funny.
    Is that being connected to your aliveness even if its like a little bit? I just dont know if that is what it is that I am relaxing more and enjoying more our relationship? because of me. Is that more connection based on my aliveness and of of course the fact that its a good relationship.
    Would you just help me please know if that is what is it?
    Thank you.

    • just me

      I am also a married woman, who have same kind of doubts and thoughts. I really try to focus on positive, but sometimes it is quite hard. I check my feelings all the time : ” do I find him attractive, is he funny, does he get me, are we too different, Did I have more chemistry and connection in my previous relationship?..” Hopefully I will get over this bad addiction some day”. I know this is not healthy..

  • Sara

    Getting married in two days! Anxiety, conflict, and tension are extremely high right now, due mostly to the hundreds of little decisions we’ve navigated over the past few weeks and also the cataclysmic personal changes we are heading towards. As I head into my last two nights sleeping alone as a single person, I’m almost in shock when I contemplate how much alone time I will soon lose. Makes me thankful for every luxurious moment of my singlehood I’ve enjoyed. And yet through all of the conflict and feelings of loss that can turn my stomach at points, I do sense a strong friendship. This email might just be for me one of the best touchstones I’ve read yet out of all of your posts. Thank you for reminding me to be grateful for what I have in my relationship and to not undervalue it. Your program and emails are life giving.

  • just me

    I have had little bit easier time lately. But I still check my feelingd toward my husband many times during a day. I am doing mental tests “am I jealous, how I feel when I think divorcing?”. And when I don’t get those feelings that I think I “should” or I think I had in my previous relationship, I get really upset and convinced that we are just friends.

    • Joanne

      Hi justme and newlymarried
      I have the same feelings as you two although I am not married but together three and a half years. I was fine for the 1st 18 months of out relationship but all of a sudden as soon as I felt 100% secure (I.e. Knew he loved me for sure) I started to get these “going off him” feelings, which I really don’t want to have because he is the best man I have ever had a relationship with. I’ve never had a calm, secure and supportive relationship before and I’ve never had a relationship with someone that genuinely has my best interests at heart.
      It sometimes goes away for a while this feeling of “not attracted/bored/lack of libido” and I feel happy, in love, very attracted etc. it stays for roughly a month and then goes again and I cannot pin point why. I am worried I am forcing the whole thing and that my gut is saying the relationship is not right.
      Right now I have a very busy life and am so tired. We haven’t had sex for over two weeks and I’m not motivated or turned on to and I keep ruminating that this is because he isn’t right for me. It’s so depressing.

      • just me

        I have also sufferef from low libido and it has strenghtened my fear that we are not meant to be. I do love my husband as a person, but I am scared that it is not romantic love, because I do not feel chemistry very often.. My husband is most caring and loving person who I know, but maybe because he is so available and reliable, I do not find him so attractive and interesting.

  • just me

    Hi Joanne,thank you for sharing your story and thoughts. I totally understand what you are going through. My biggest fear has been lately that I have married my husband because of security, not real love, because I have struggeled from doubts and negative thoughts during our whole relationsip. You can be grateful that you have had quite long period in your relationship, when you do not suffered from anxiety. I believe that you will be just fine! Do not give up hope X

  • Joanne

    Thank you Just me, it’s very nice to talk to someone who is in my shoes.
    When I say I was ok for the first 18 months, actually when I first met my partner I was drawn to him because he has a presence that was very calming but he is not classically good looking. In fact, in the work place where I met him a lot of the women would say he was ugly! But I kept feeling drawn to him. I even went out with someone else who was ‘classically’ good looking but I found we had nothing to talk about really and I didn’t feel the same ease that I did with my partner.

    Without trying to bore you, the other guy and I split up and I started to see my partner regularly going out for meals but as friends. After three or four weeks I started to feel butterflies and a tingle of attraction towards him. I think he must have picked up on this because he started flirting more.

    From then onwards we started dating and I felt in love with him. I did have one or two rare moments during the 18 months when I felt “off him” but that didn’t last long and was only brief.

    How did your relationship start Just me? I also have had the doubts that I am just with him because he keeps me safe and secure and also because I have a better life with him. I was insecure and lonely and went from guy to guy who were emotionally and verbally abusive.

    • Joanne

      sorry meant to add, sometimes when I am in my anxious “going off him” mood I see him through the eyes of the women who said he wasn’t attractive and then I feel even worse about the whole thing because I think how cruel, cold and heartless I am to him.x

  • I Guess for me what I was trying to say is that now laterly I have been feeling more relaxed and joyful and I noticed that as I started to feel more relaxed and joyful I noticed that my attraction grew for my husband and I see more often of the good things he has and how cute he is, I am not head over the hills for him but I see him sometimes more often than others and I see how cute he is, I feel my self more close to him and more even wanting to touch him, and I enjoy more our laughs and time together I just have had periods where I feel more joyful and with more of a spark within when I laugh with him and stuff but I still get anxious and the what ifs come up of course.
    My SW tells me that I cannot be happy and that I havent worked to hard for me to be joyful so it makes me doubt and I get like turned down thinking ” well yes I havent worked on myself like extremely hard but I have worked on myself” and then I start believe like sometimes is wrong because I should not be feeling happy.
    My husband and I dated before but it didnt lead to anything because we were both very immature and not really ready to commit and then he went back to his ex girlfriend and I started another relationship, both of our realtionships were not good but we stayed there, but I always missed him, or longed for him because we would have so much fun, it was the best time of my life with him, but like I said he and I were immature and would play alot of games to each other, so I always longed for him.
    Years later we saw eachother again, ( because let me say this, for some reason our encounters since the beginning were like synchronized) and years later we saw eachother and I still wanted to be with him, maybe it was the longing for what we lived before but I still wanted to be with him, but thank god this time it just worked out because we were both mature and we had lived life a little longer and learned more and now we were there to be serious. He lost his father and that made him mature and I learned alot and yes before we were immature but we had a little journey that made us grow and for some reason again life put us together one more time to make us choose or not.
    He was getting himself enrolled in the military and I had come back to our town because I found a job which they offered me over the phone when I was just asking for appartments and I took it because I was not living a good thing where I was and it happened I came and got the job and they made him wait in the military and we saw each other and something was still there, what ever it was longing, feelings, attraction, but now what is important is that our relationship is based on choice and respect and commitment, we are both here together for each other and we are both willing to learn and grow, we are both on the same page. I sm still scared and doubts come often and he listens to me and is patient with me and I think thats what counts, what we have now.

  • Laura

    Hi just me,
    I am also in the throws of low libido and have been now for a very long time with my partner. It is terrifying as the anxiety uses it as evidence that you are no longer attracted and that you do not love them in a romantic way as you said. This has been a very difficult obstacle for me to overcome as the lack of libido continues the anxiety keeps feeding off it.

    • just me

      I am sorry for your similar situation. I really hope that we both will be able to get over this issue and find real attraction toward our partners. My situation is also more complicated, because I have felt more chemistry and higher libido in my previous relationship and this makes me believe, that maybe we do not simply have enough attraction and spark. We have very good time while dating, lot of laugh and common interests and I did not pay so much attention to this issue.

      • Laura

        Yes I understand what you are saying. It is very difficult. Even writing that we have an issue with chemistry had me on edge incase someone replied saying this is a true sign you are not going to work out! I have never had a high libido but we did have more chemistry when I wasn’t riddled with the thoughts of ‘do you love him? You don’t feel anything so you mustnt, you don’t want to have sex etc etc. I don’t know how much more I can personally put up with. This has been ongoing a year now and my poor partner has been so patient and I get so upset that I have these thoughts and that they stop me from being intimate with him.

  • Joanne

    Hi Laura
    I’m also in the same boat as you. Do you think we should just do it maybe to bring ourselves closer to our partners?

    • Laura

      Hi joanne,
      When you say do it do you mean initiate something to try and be intimate? I have tried this a few times before and it does not work for me. Unfortunately I break down in tears because I feel nothing and guilty which once again fuels the anxiety. I don’t know how to get out of this vicious circle and it terrifies me to think this is evidence that it is not going to work.

  • Joanne

    Poor you Laura. I feel your pain. It’s a horrible situation to be in. Do you have times when the attraction comes back?

    Sheryl, how do we know when we are forcing a square peg into a round hole so to speak? (i.e. how do we know when the relationship is not meant to be?)

    • Laura

      I do feel attraction for him at times but with all my heart I do not want to leave him. I want nothing more than for us to go back to how we were before all this started but my thoughts and feelings are controlling me which is my own fault and I need to work on this

  • Theboxer

    Hi Sheryl, thanks for this post. I agree that friendship is the foundation of every relationship, but I believe that’s exactly my problem. My partner is also my best friend, I only feel comfortable around him and nobody else. I can’t imagine my life without him. But from the moment we met, I’ve never felt attracted to him sexually. I feel another kind of attraction: something keeps me going back to him no matter what, and I feel attracted to his personality and soul. I’m not saying he’s ugly, he’s actually very attractive and I think he could be a model. But whenever I look at him, I think he’s good-looking, period. I never think I would like to have sex. To be fair, I never felt sexually attracted to anyone else either. When I look at him I see my best friend, a beautiful soul, a guy I could easily spend my life together. But then my mind says “why don’t you feel the butterflies? Why don’t you desire sex with anyone? Are you broken inside? Do you really love him, or are you just friends?” He’s my first boyfriend and I don’t know if I just don’t like being intimate in general, or if I’m simply with the wrong guy. What do you do when the friendship is strong but it’s the passion that’s missing? Can you save a relationship like this? Please help, I’m tired of feeling like there’s something wrong with me

  • Dana

    Hi Sheryl
    I’ve been dealing with anxiety lately and your blog has been a life saver. I have this weird feeling thatmy partner doesn’t show his feelings to me.I keep doing things tImake him feel special but he is a bit on the quiet side. I feel bad that I expect him to do things to make me feel special but I feel why can’t he just do it. I often get annoyed and I be rude to him and after everything I feel bad. I really want to take your course but I can’t afford it. Reading your blogs I have realized all the wrong beliefs ive been nurturing. Any help on how to overcome this expectation problem. Thanks 🙂

  • Hello everyone I was just thinking today about something…
    Love is practice as Sheryl mentions and what came to my mind is this… When we are born we dont really love our family members we learn to love them. We practice loving them, we grow love for them because we have spend a life time together and because they are with us, we dont grow love only because they are our family but because they have shown us love and patience and we have grown love for them. I think we can apply this thought to our anxiety when we are doubtful.
    Hope this helps 🙂

  • Angela

    Hi Newly married,
    Yes i find that to be true. It takes time for everything. Its like when you meet a child for the first time, they feel shy and distant. When they feel a sense of trust and warmth with you they get closer to you and then the child cuddles you or sit on your lap. Children initiate but not all the time. As adults we must initiate our openess and our love to make a long lasting connection for the rest of our lives. Friendliness and open communication is a trait that so important for our human race to feel loved and worthy of who we are.

  • S

    This is a great blog but it did spike me a little..
    Since I have had feelings of anxiety around my relationship there are times where I do struggle to even convince myself that I ‘like’ my partner.. Just as a person. Although I’m sure I do, there have been many times where I have felt like I don’t. I know you say that irritation is normal but I don’t know to what extent my irritation is.. Yes I know I sometimes get irritated and then move on and get over it but there have also been times where it’s almost like I really dislike her or I can’t be happy for her if something good is happening for her..
    I’ve put it down to my ego for a lot of this time.. That maybe if something good happens for her that doesn’t really involve me than I don’t really care and can’t really feel happy for her..? This sounds horrible. I’m unsure if it’s just my ego and anxiety getting in the way..
    After our honeymoon phase I became insanely jealous and insecure with her. Thinking someone else would give her attention and she would enjoy it or she’d find someone more fascinating than me and so on and I became so horrible but couldn’t stop myself from telling her each time I felt it. It put a big strain on us and since then and after a few near break ups we have finally gotten to a good place and I’m less insecure and not jealous! However instead I have doubts and like I mentioned I sometimes don’t even know if I can truly love someone who I don’t know if I’m happy for them and so on.. Makes me feel like it’s not truly love if I can’t accept all her forms.. But i want to say it’s my ego that I can’t seem to break down!

    I’ve also been having a horrible thought that I’ve been ashamed to mention to my therapist.
    I am constantly imagining my life without her in it and constantly imagining myself with other people and finding others attractive almost obsessively.
    The thought I’ve been having is that if my partner died I might be sad at first but I would then be okay because that would be my opportunity to then have a life with someone else.
    It’s such a terrible thing to admit and I hate that that is my thoughts and the first thing I feel when I think of her dying is that id be free to be with someone else..
    I almost think sometimes that it’s like I don’t want to deal with a break up and I wouldn’t cope going through that so if she was to pass away I would have no choice but to move on but if we just broke up it would be to hard for me to move on…
    I hope you can shed some light on this sheryl, I really try to look inside myself for what I’m fearing but I can’t seem to find it or work with it..

    Xx

  • just me

    I have taken my doubts and disturbing dreams about my ex and divorce as a sign that I am with the wrong person or living against God’s will. But what do you think Sheryl, can they also be my resistance to take responsibility of my own wellness?

    • just me

      I feel sometimes like my mind and hearth are wanting differenr things. My mind is wanting to stay with my family, but my hearth is longing for more romantic love and passion.

    • blm

      Hi JustMe,

      The answers do not lie outside of you. You have to dive in and do the inner work. Your heart might be longing for more romantic love and passion, but those come when you have a full sense of joy and love that you have developed that you can then share with someone else. As long as you blame your family for your lack of joy and passion, you will remain stuck.

      • Lili

        Hi justme and blm
        I am again in my dark soul, same position, i am willing for more romance and passion, – blm, can you explain a bit what u mean by inner work, some tips on that I keep coming up with this term in the blog but donno wat it means? Thanks.

      • just me

        I know that answer is not outside of me, but some voice inside of trying to convince me that it is our chemistry that just does not work because I have suffered from low libido almost during our whole relationship and felt more spark in my previous relationship. I just do not want to believe that we are not meant to be..

  • blm

    Sheryl-

    One question and a couple of comments. First, I wonder how much the specific spikes your clients feel each week are related to the articles. So when you talk about “filling your own well” if the spikes seem to trend towards “What if I fill my own well and realize I have to/want to leave?” and when you talk about connection the thoughts trend towards “do we have enough connection?” Just curious since I know anxiety/fear like to hang their hats on anything, so with each new topic, fear takes hold! I know, even though I’ve been doing this a while, I’m perseverating on the “do I like my husband? did I enjoy hanging out this weekend? etc”

    There was also something you said in another article about “liking” your spouse and the difference between clear eyes and fear eyes. One of the keys of knowing whether you like your spouse is when you are in clear eyes and can see BEYOND the irritations and know that deep down, you two have a core connection and enjoy being together most of the time. That doesn’t mean that sometimes when you are together you don’t get annoyed, but that when your own personal well is full, you enjoy each other’s company. Therein lies the key- when your own personal well is full and you are in clear eyes, do you generally get along and like each other?

    • Yes, well-said: “when your own personal well is full and you are in clear eyes, do you generally get along and like each other?”

      My guess is that, yes, fear can spike as a result of the weekly articles, but the truth is that if someone hasn’t learned how to work with their thoughts and feelings and attend lovingly to their inner world, they can be spiked by almost anything!

      • blm

        Very true- Thanks for your reply. I was thinking about how no matter what I read about real love, my fear has a way of infiltrating into the story. So it will say “you don’t want to learn how to expand your threshold with him.”

        I guess my point is that fear will find every single way it can to make you run, even convincing you that you don’t want to do this work. I wanted to remind myself and others that the work isn’t just reading the blogs, but in responding to what is the underneath the thoughts and noticing that thoughts will change like the weather- because they aren’t the truth.

  • Soph

    Hi Sheryl why do I feel as if I am getting nowhere and that I can’t accept these thoughts such as “you don’t love him” as not true. All I know is that I feel sad most of the time and feel like I am getting no where due to all the negativity like “this will never end and this thought must be true” 🙁 does anyone else feel like this? x

  • Soph

    That’s my problem I don’t know how to control them. I keep thinking they will go away but I just don’t know where to
    start. Its like I’m arguing with my own mind. I want to to trust myself.

  • Soph

    I haven’t enough money to pay for it at the moment but hopefully I will get some saved up 🙂 but will reassuring myself and reading you articles help. I just feel that this will never go away and I will always be anxious. There’s nothing wrong with him. He’s great and my head just won’t accept it which makes me think there’s something wrong x

    • Starting a daily meditation and journaling practice will help tremendously as well, and there are many free resources online to learn how to meditate. Also learning to nurture your physical body in loving ways is foundational.

  • Lili

    Hi sheryl,

    Can you please explain a little bit about journaling – i have seen your short video on journaling-i started doing it , writting my feeling on a daily basis but i ran into few issues 1- wat to write and focus on 2- how to not get rapped up in my negative thoughts. You said in your video do to try to write a list of questions, access the truth and write that down , but how can we do that.? I appreciate if you can provide any tips, thank you so much as always.

  • just me

    I am consciously grieving my fantasy partner and fantasy relationship, do you think it could change my unconscious, which is now trying to convince me to leave?

    • just me

      Or does our subconscious mind keep the truth about our relationship?

      • blm5126

        As you dive in and feel this pain, your fear (subconscious as you are calling it) will try anything to keep you from feeling the pain. Sit with the pain and let the thoughts and feelings keep flowing through.

        Well done on taking the leap and feeling your grief!

        • just me

          Thank you for your guick response. I was talking about my dreams when I used wors subconscious. I have seen few dreams lately where we have divorced and it has felt right, it has made me wonder if it is a right thing to do or is there any other alternative interpretations to my dreams?

          • blm5126

            I’m definitely not well-versed in dream interpretation, but I would certainly think that not all dreams should be interpreted literally. Keep working with it, ask your higher guidance if there is something you think you are trying to achieve in divorce that could actually be achieved by filling your own well.

          • Nothing in dreams should be taken at face value (the fatal error of dream interpretation). If I’m getting divorced in a dream I would ask, “What part of me am I divorcing myself from? What part of me does my partner represent that I’m needing to separate from?” Seen in this light, it could be a very healthy dream!

            http://conscious-transitions.com/its-not-what-you-think/

          • just me

            Thank you for both of you. I really try to not take my dreams literally, but it is hard, because I have been thinking daily time recently divorce as an option, because I feel that my romantic feelings have almost disappeared and I am feeling that we are just friends. I really like and care about my husband and really do not want to hurt him, but I am wondering if my hearth is not in this relationship.

  • Try to read Sheryl’s post ” http://conscious-transitions.com/the-lives-well-never-live/

    It helped me alot with the fact that when I got married I was feeling the grief that I had not done so many external things I had wanted to do with my life. Its great.

  • Leah

    Hi Sheryl,
    I did your trust yourself course back in March and I find myself revisiting it constantly to gain reassurance that I am not my mind. You make a point in the course saying that when a thought comes in we must come out of our head and into our body to find out the truth. I have started to do this but doubt will always get in the way.
    I contacted you in January 2015 with the anxious fear that I was going to become a lesbian despite me never having any sexual fantasies for women in my life and I am getting married in a month to a wonderful man. I would always have comfortably admired someone’s beauty. This thought grew arms and legs over the last few months but I am getting stronger through cbt, medication, your articles and next week I start meditation classes.
    This morning I was driving to work and out of nowhere came this thought what if I really want to be with a woman and I’m in denial. What if if I was telling people all along lies and I am lying to myself. It sounds ridiculous. All of this brought a tight chest and huge amounts of anxiety. My point is coming out of my head and into my body, when I think of this thought I feel anxious and panicked..I then conclude this is a false thought. When I think of spending a lovely weekend with my fiancé I feel happy.. Then I conclude this is a true thought. Am I doing this right? Sorry if I am coming across a little stupid!
    You also have mentioned in many emails not to take these thoughts at face value and ask yourself what are you protecting yourself from. I am struggling to answer that question. It could be getting hurt but I know my fiancé would never hurt me.
    I have had a very complex upbringing with no stable mother or father. I often think to myself because i never felt a sense of belonging as a child could this be why I can’t answer with certainty a question about myself? Sometimes I can say “I’m not a lesbian” but then the ego comes in and says “are you sure”.
    Many thanks Sheryl.

  • Silver

    Hi. Can someone relate to me? I’ve been in the space of uncertainty few months ago after we started dating. I’ve been asking myself if I’m just convincing myself if I love her. She’s my first and I’ve never had anyone in my life as serious as this. She’s 19 and I’m 20. I’m stuck since I don’t feel anything when I left her we’re still trying to save the relationship but I don’t know why I’m not scared to lose her, not jealous when she tried to make feel jealous. She cares for me so much and loves me. I keep trying to know and kill the things that I don’t need to so I can be better. I know that I’m too self centered and immature in my part.

  • L

    Hello Sheryl
    I am really scared because it is getting worse for me. I had a period of attraction and in love feelings back in August/September then the out of love feelings have come back and gradually got worse. I am irritated by him, have a hollow empty feeling in the pit of my stomach and have to force myself to be intimate. I feel so guilty and depressed. I am dreading christmas of being confined to his company. This makes me feel terrible and even more depressed that I am with the wrong person. And yet back in August I was so in love and glad and happy. I am trying to breath into the feelings and ask what this anxiety is meaning for me but so far I am not coming up with any answers except maybe I am forcing something which should not be and that scares the life out of me.

  • L

    And I am very sorry to trouble you Sheryl but I keep having dreams about being out with my friends and being young wild and free. Having good fun and really enjoying their company. Every dream is more or less the same – the build up to the night out (i.e. getting dressed up, having a few alcoholic drinks) and then the exciting night out.
    I know that your course tells us we should listen to the underlying message of what our dream is telling us….I am wondering if my dream is telling me that I need more time with friends: More time to be me. I do go out with them but only once a month or so.

    I also hardly get any time by myself from my partner. He doesn’t go out and so I am with him every night after work and all evening and weekend. Sometimes I just want to be in my own company to read a book, listen to music or to just be by myself for the sake of being by myself. This is when I get irritated; when I am writing my thoughts and feelings into my journal and he will come upstairs and over to where i am writing and as I don’t want him to see my innermost feelings/thoughts I feel intruded upon and very irritated by his presence.
    Is this all normal? I don’t want to tell him i need time to myself because I don’t want to hurt him. I cannot even listen to your videos in peace because I don’t want him to know I have joined the course and he will come into the bedroom when I am trying to listen to them! I feel so overwhelmed at the moment, almost suffocated like I literally cannot breathe!

  • Stef

    Hi sheryl,

    I am commenting a last time before i look into purchasing your break free course.
    I’m a little apprehensive because I don’t know which of your courses will work best for me although I do think it is the break free course because I would like to tackle to relationship anxiety before I move on to trying to learn ways to add more love into my relationship.

    I have commented many times so I’m sure you might recognise me and my story if not,
    I have been in a reltionship with another women for 4 years now and after our honeymoon phase was badly anxious that she always had one foot out of the relationship and that she would leave and find someone else.. Later through the years has turned into I’m not sure if I love her enough or if there’s something else out there for me that would suit me better and I would not experience anxiety with.

    I have recently read through the work of Margaret Paul. I have realised when she says that some people get into relationships through their ego self ( meaning I liked the way my partner treated me rather than for the actual person she is) is exactly what I did.
    Usually after a honeymoon phase people work his out and realise of they should be with that person or not from clearer eyes. For me however I never made that translation and have spent the last 3 years instead of moving from infactuation into real love I instead became anxious and always wondering why my partner changed and was not as loving anymore which I assume was actually just my WS would wondered why all the attention she was giving me had gone..
    After my anxiety has turned on its head and I’m now anxious about how I feel towards her ( which I’m confused as to why my anxiety changed in the first place) I guess I am now ready to learn real love and to make that transition that I should have made a few years back. However I have that constant intrusive thought of “you never really loved her from the beginning if you only got into this relationship because of the way she made you feel so how can you now really love her for who she is”
    And that’s just the thing sometimes I can’t figure out why I actually love her which scares me so much even though I do really want to love her..

    Do you think the break free course is the right course for me? Should I at least start with that? Your website has been a godsend till now but I think it may be time for something more..

    • Yes, based on what you’ve shared, the Break Free course would help you enormously. You will find clarity on all fronts, including being able to identify why you love her. Right now your anxiety is in the way of any clarity, so once that is cleared out you will be able to see both you and her clearly.

  • Kristi

    I have been receiving updates on articles such as this ever since my engagement, and it has changed my course for the better. Thank you, thank you a million times for writing inspiring articles such as this. Truly you are inspired. Love is all about friendship and uncertainty. With that I have the one question, what do you mean in all your articles when you say “core values”? I have searched the internet on this term and have found various answers, but I’d like to know what you personally mean by this term. I think my partner and I share “core values” but and uncertain sometimes.

    Thanks again!

    • Shared vision on having children or not, religion when it comes to kids, how you spend time (it doesn’t have to be in the same way but you need to be in agreement about it), money (again, you can have different styles as long as you’ve talked about), in-laws and family.

  • Hi Sheryl would you consider a red flag if back when I was young my now husband and I were so immature and stupid that we never really opened up for trust, we were never in a commited relationship we just went out and then feelings started to grow but we were both not ready to commit and he was kind of a flirt back then, you know the classic young guy who is flirty with other girls?
    Now years later after being in bad relationships we saw each other, started dating and then got married and he has shown me the best anyone ever has on what is like to be loved and respected, he listens and he is also there for me in every way, even in my loops.
    But the voices in my head spiked when I read about trust issues being a red flag, and I trust him but there is times that I think oh my god what if he cheats on me or what if he is like he was back in the past when he was young.
    and I have to admit that I do have trust issues in general myself. and back then when we were younger I did not trust him because everyone said he was bad, and he admits now that back then he just did not care about anything and thats why he stopped seeing me cause he did not want to hurt me even though he had feelings for me, he was not ready to be commited.
    I also have to admit I never also opned up back then to try and build anything. I was very immature too and never gain his trust. WE were both just immature.
    Do you think that is a red flag on us?
    WE have both the same interest, values, goals, and I respect him and so does he, is is funny, he listens when I get scared, he hears my doubts he works, he is sooo lovie we are just great for each other, is just that doubt that spiked me bad….. 🙁

    Thank you

  • Nope, not a red flag at all ;).

  • Thank you so much for your reply Sheryl, I was worried about that, he does admit he wasd not a good guy and he did not care about any other relationship he had before, he was immature and a flirt and just the classic bad guy, but he grew and learned and now he has shown me what no one has, sometimes I do still wonder like I said, what if he becomes again what he was back then, a player, but he told me, its normal for your to feel like that sometimes being that you knew me before, but we were both immature and thats why it never left us to anything, but now he said, its not like that and I will show you every day what its like to care for someone you love.
    Thank you Sheryl 🙂 God Bless you

  • ImperfectGoddess

    Hi Sheryl, once again, what a beautiful post. I truly feel like my partner is my ‘cozy bowl of warm oatmeal’. I think my anxious mind and intrusive thoughts constantly cause me to question if our ‘values’ are the same. I start thinking, ‘what are values?’, ‘do we need to like all the same things?’, what if I value things certain more?” I often feel like maybe I’m more intellectual than him and place more ‘value’ on gaining knowledge etc. Is this a common fear among those with relationship anxiety?

    • Yes, questioning values is a very common perseveration of the anxious mind. When I talk about values I mean core values like whether or not you want to have kids and how you’ll raise them regarding religion.

  • ImperfectGoddess

    Thanks Sheryl for your reply. I am so grateful for stumbling upon your work and the inspiring men and women who share my feelings! I’m not alone! So comforting.
    Thank you for all you do. I anticipate soon that I will be engaged (perhaps Christmas!) and before I came upon your work, this would’ve terrified me, I’ve made a lot of progress with myself. 🙂 I look forward to taking your relationship anxiety course in the near future as I enter this new chapter of my life.
    Again–thank you. I am so incredibly grateful.