Your Guide to Cultivating Deep, Meaningful Relationships
Anne Davin, PhD
Anne Davin is a depth psychologist, writer, teacher and executive coach. Her work focuses on the role of psyche, culture and the marginalized voice of the feminine. She’s also my therapist who helped me heal deep wounds and learn healthy relationship patterns. It must be working; I just got married to the love of my life. Hooray!—Maranda
Take time to journal on each topic.
1. Reflect on a romantic relationship in which your heart felt broken. Answer this question: What was my imperfection in this relationship? How did I withhold love from myself or my lover? Identify two or three imperfections.
2. Next, answer this question for each imperfection: What is the gift of this imperfection—the lesson I am to learn? How does this gift guide and inform my choices to love completely now?
Dissolve the Illusions. Date a human, not a fairy tale.
3. Prince or Princess Charming isn’t coming. Your twin flame, the other half of your soul, is not actually a person. It’s your spiritual practice. Mother cultures across time and continents teach us that initiated men and women do not chase what they desire; they marry what they follow and raise up what they love. You are steeped in a Western mythos that says when you kiss a frog you get a king. The promise of what “could be” becomes so compelling it overtakes your sense of perception, and you may mistake illusion for enchantment. The result? You minimize or deny important red flags alerting you to move on. See through the fairy tale to the human in front of you. A person can tell you anything but show you everything. Parcel out fact from fiction.
4. Utilize this exercise the "I see, I imagine" exercise to distinguish between the two: When I reflect on (Enter name of love interest) I see (Test: Only the concrete facts—what a fly on the wall sees.) I imagine (Test: These are the fantasies you hope will be true now or in the future.) Believe what you see. If you like what you see right now, stay the course. If you like what you imagine more than what you currently see, stop kissing this frog.
5. Embody “Your Type.” You can have a “good time” without dating up. If, however, you desire a deep and meaningful connection, then choose a person who takes the initiative to maintain their wellbeing. The ability to self-manage leads to whole health. That includes emotional maturity, mental flexibility, curiosity and creative imagination (a spiritual sensibility that organizes a life, whether it’s surfing or a meditation practice), and caring for one’s physical body. You are more likely to attract a person who is self-managing if you are actively embodying this quality yourself.
6. Take a moment and list at least one action you can take this week to nurture your whole health:
6. Explore and Restore. Self-awareness leads to self-actualization. Information is power. The way you relate to someone you feel strong affection towards might be limiting or keeping you stuck. What list of characteristics most describes your dominant attachment style (a popular Western psychology term)?
Anxious: “I can’t live without you.”
• Worry your partner may fall out of love with you
• Can be emotionally clingy
• Tendency to be a people pleaser
• Over-give time, effort and money
Avoidant: “I can’t live with you.”
• Function over feelings
• Strong desire for freedom or personal space
• Critical of partner’s needs
• Resist commitment even though you may value it in others
Secure: “I like developing in love.”
• Enjoy emotional intimacy
• Stable relationships
• Healthy boundaries
• Willing to develop and become more loving
Work towards becoming more securely attached. Are you the Anxious Type? Relax and trust that your greatest protection is your willingness to be separate in your togetherness. Are you the Avoidant Type? Increase your tolerance for closeness by taming your unconscious fear that you will be consumed. Every encounter with another human being is an opportunity to transform. Use your experiences dating to turn you away from the person you have been trained to be towards the person you desire to be and finally away from either of those to the person you end up becoming.