What are you Tolerating in your Relationship

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    “What are you tolerating in your relationship?” is a very powerful coaching question and one I invite you to ask yourself. I’d like to share an experience I’ve just had which I hope will be helpful to you. I met a man through online dating last October and we immediately felt a connection. It was very powerful and I described it as feeling like my “iron filings” were strongly attracted to his powerful magnet. We spent a couple of hours together and I reveled in the sense of awe, wonder and mutual recognition we shared. We both love Rumi, and spirituality is important to both of us. I kept marveling that I met a man like this on a free dating site! Who knew? What a blessing! (or so I thought at the time!)

    As the following week went on, I had a text or two, and looked forward to getting together with him on the weekend, but he was too busy. I won’t go into all the details of this relationship which consisted mainly romantic of texts and vague promises. I won’t talk about the times I was disappointed when I asked for help and he didn’t come through. And I won’t go over the number of times I’d send texts that were simply ignored. I tracked all of this but what kept me going was that when were together it was wonderful. We both thoroughly enjoyed it but, sadly, these times were few and far between because he works 7 days a week.

    Why did I stay? I’m a dating coach! Couldn’t I see the red flags within the first week? He was clearly not a good match for me but I was hooked. Now that it’s over I can see those hooks and I’m sharing my story with the hope that this will help you unhook if you’re in a dysfunctional relationship.

    Hook#1: We believe what we want to believe even if it goes against our direct experience. I believed that someday we would have lots of quality time together reading Rumi, being deeply present and living The 40 Rules of Love (a wonderful novel by Elif Safak about the love between Rumi and Shams). My actual experience over 7 months was that we saw each other for about 2 hours every 2 or 3 weeks – yet I kept believing things would change. Wishful thinking!

    Hook #2: My limiting belief was that this man is the ONLY man around who appreciates Rumi like I do and who really “gets” me. Every time I thought about leaving, my scarcity thinking would be triggered and I told myself that I may not find another spiritual man like this… even though I spent so much time sad, disappointed and feeling unheard. Once I worked through that limiting belief and embraced that there ARE other men out there, I was able to loosen the hook.

    Hook #3: Chemistry! I learned a lot about the insidious nature of chemistry from this experience! It’s funny because I tell my middle-aged clients that chemistry isn’t so much about lust now, (not like in our 20’s and 30’s) but that’s just not true! The other thing about chemistry is that it gives you the sense that you have more in common with the other person than you actually do… and those hormones can actually make you think you’re soul mates! Unrecognized chemistry is devious dangerous and it can really mess with your wise judgment! It’s helpful to rely on your friends’ feedback about your partner so you get a reality check. When your brain is in a hormonal fog, this is next to impossible.

    Hook #4: Margaret Paul (Inner Bonding) talks about our wounded self can get fiercely bonded to unavailable people because this is so familiar from our family of origin. That wounded part really believes it is possible to turn someone who’s unavailable into being available…. but, sadly, that can’t happen and it just means more pain for that part. There are many ways that someone can be unavailable to you: still married to someone else, unable or unwilling to open up to you; too busy to see you. I needed to comfort that inner wounded part of me so I could gently dash her hopes. The truth is that he would never become available. It was essential before I could move on.

    Hook#5: Trying to make it all better by re-framing it as spiritual boot camp. I wrote page after page in my journal. I read spiritual books. I did self-awareness and personal growth exercises. I tried to make his bad behavior OK. I blamed my pain on my monkey mind. I blamed my ego for being attached to wanting things a certain way (like being treated with courtesy and respect!) While I think it’s valuable to see things from different perspectives, there was really no way to see his neglectful behavior as acceptable. Treating others with consideration, courtesy, respect, compassion and care is non-negotiable in my view! This is what I’m holding out for: to be treated with love and respect. It’s basic!

    I always encourage my clients to see the blessings in these sorts of experiences, and to see the lessons. When I recognized all that I had been tolerating, I knew that I had to take a stand and honor myself – and leave the relationship.

    I deserve more and so do you.


    Dear LoveCoachLynn:

    Let’s see if I get it: you met a man through online dating and instantly felt an intense attraction to him. You felt like you shared the same interests, that he was your soul mate. You experienced great, intense pleasure in his company, only the time you spent with him was too short and rare: two hours every 2-3 weeks for seven months. You wanted to spend more time with him and hoped he will make time, but that didn’t happen. You asked him for help a few times and he didn’t help you. You sent him many texts which he ignored. You felt sad, disappointed, unheard. You finally decided that his behavior was disrespectful of you and ended the rare and short visits with him.

    You took a stand and honored yourself- great lesson! Thank you for sharing.



    Hello, I happen to come across your post. I went true a similar experience lasting close to 12 months ago. It was in the beginning exciting, than it became very painful. I also thought we had a connection. Looking back I can’t believe it was me excepting crumps from this individual. Deep down I think my reason for tolerating his behavior I thought he was my soulmate. The missing link to an unavailable father. I want to thank you for your post, it help me look at myself and learn to honor myself. Bina


    What am I tolerating in my relationship?

    -her tardiness in regard to meal preparation
    -house not being cleaned to the desired standard daily
    -her being allowed to visit friends once a week
    -her speaking out of turn
    -not wearing the dress that I choose her to wear, when we go out together

    Is that enough?


    * You are… hilarious, once again, Jack. I knew you were kidding the second line. Third- I was sure you were kidding.Fourth, I knew for sure. Speaking out of turn! ha ha ha. And, no it is not enough, always need a good laugh. Your humor is appreciated!!!


    Lynn, this was so wonderfully put! I feel like you’re describing one of my most recent relationships!

    I met an Anesthesiologist Resident on a dating site and completely fell for him. Our chemistry made me feel alive. I was completely infatuated by him: his attractiveness, his smell, even looking into his eyes made me blush.

    He talked to me about his love for art (which I love as well), his beliefs aligned with mine, and I instantly thought he may be the one.

    Reality check! As the weeks went on my attraction for him grew but he steadily started pulling away saying he was “so busy.” He went from texting me in the operating room (literally, before or after his job was done) to not texting me for days at a time.

    I’m so happy you wrote out the “hooks” of your relationship. I related to them. I imagine a future with this man, but deep in my heart I know there is no future. If I have a true love, he wouldn’t continuously miss or avoid opportunities to see or talk to me.

    I think it’s time to let him go for good. I’ll miss him, but I’ll also miss the entire fantasy life I created. That’s all it is. A fantasy.

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