There are so many ways the ego tries to dismantle real love, and it’s favorite is to perseverate on a single question until it tires itself out, then jump to the next story. I’ve dissected many of these questions on this blog and in my courses, approaching each in the same way: name it as an intrusive thought, douse it with truth water, then ask: What is this thought protecting me from feeling? The current thought-story that seems to be making the rounds of the collective unconscious, meaning I’m hearing it through all of my channels – from my clients, my readers, and my course members – is the title of this blog: What if I’m only with my partner because she or he makes me feel safe?
Let’s dissect this intrusive thought and douse it with some truth water. The statement implies that feeling safe is a poor reason to commit to someone. First off, since when is feeling safe something to sneeze at? Asked another way: How many people in this world do you truly feel safe with? If you feel safe with your partner, it’s a rare blessing that is likely a result of many factors:
- You like him.
- You trust her.
- For the most part, and especially when anxiety isn’t clouding your vision, you enjoy being in her presence. Keep in mind that when you spend enough time with anyone, especially when you’re highly sensitive, you’re going to feel irritated at times (sometimes a lot of the time).
- She makes you feel loved.
- You feel supported.
- You feel loved.
- You feel seen.
- You can be yourself.
Anxious mind alert: As you read through the above list, your ego is going to want to poke holes and challenge every statement. Do I REALLY feel loved? Does my partner REALLY get me? Do I even LIKE him? It’s essential to name the ego’s tactics every time it makes an appearance, then see if you can ask the questions again and allow the answers to rise up from your deepest self. You can also dismantle this particular ego tactic by using its logic against itself as you recognize that if you’re stuck on the question of “Am I only with my partner because I feel safe?” the answer is implicit in the question. In other words, you wouldn’t be asking the question in the first place if you didn’t feel safe! In the duel between ego and truth, truth takes the lead.
Once we’ve established that there are only a handful of people in the world with whom you feel safe and that safety is a gift, we can walk a bit deeper into the world of attachment theory, which posits that without safety, you have nothing. Safety is the foundation. Trust is non-negotiable. Expert couples therapists state that it’s not love that provides the container inside which a relationship flourishes but trust. And without safety there is no trust.
Just like a child who is securely attached to his mother feels safe enough to venture out into the world, when we’re securely attached to our partners we, as adults, also feel safe enough to take risks in the world. We feel safe to explore new areas of ourselves – a career change, a business idea, having a child – because we know that our partner is there to catch us if we fall. The umbilical cord that once attached you to your mother is now attached to your partner, and the beauty of this metaphorical cord is that it stretches as wide as the world. In short, a safe relationship allows you to fly. So again, feeling safe is nothing to rashly dismiss or use as a reason to walk away. In fact, according the attachment theorists, it’s the very reason to stay. How backward our culture has it!
Ego will always argue, especially when it’s supported by the cultural wave that says: “Run! You don’t really love him! You’re just staying because you love the way he loves you.”
To which I respond: It’s a good place to start. You’re with someone who treats you well. You’ve found someone you trust and with whom you feel safe. And if you’ve been on my blog or courses for a while you’ve come across the question that pierces through most of the ego’s thought-stories – Is my partner someone with whom I can learn about love? – and answered yes.
It’s a good place to start. You start on a platform of safety, shared values, and friendship. Then you spend the next many years learning how to give and receive love, diving into the intricacies of the weave that composes the fabric of your relationship, unraveling the knots that were tied from past pain, softening into each other’s fold, and wrapping each other up in the blanket of your relationship which began with safety, grew with curiosity, and arrived, finally, at love.