Ask Abdi: How can I know I’m not pushing my partner away?

Question: I am in a committed relationship for several years with a kind and caring person. We have been considering marriage. Recently I had an overwhelming physical episode where I felt that I should wake my partner up in the middle of the night and tell her that I don’t want to marry her. It came out of nowhere. I didn’t do it, and in the morning as I was leaving the house for the day, I felt ashamed.

When I’ve spoken to other people about this, they all say that at some point or another, they have wanted to leave their partner. They all say that this feeling comes and goes over the years. And sometimes I feel that they think I am crazy for thinking these things about my partner.

How can I know that I’m not pushing my partner away because of my childhood wounding?

Answer: Conscious relationships are an arduous spiritual practice. What you are describing is normal: we are all frightened to death of intimacy. That is what you are feeling. Regardless of our conscious intent or desire, we don’t trust another much. When we get close to a deepening of intimacy and have deep wounding, we want to run the other way. Again, it is totally normal and the fear does come and go. The work here is not to project this on her as much as to learn to tolerate your feelings. Some therapy would be great right now to deal with these emotions so you don’t lay them on her. Ultimately deep work can get done in relationships. It is the perfect place to face these fears we all have. As you are seeing, they come up intensely as we step deeper into the unknown.

So to answer your question: the only way to know the answer is to face yourself squarely. It is not that it will not workout in the end. Rather it is that we want to protect ourselves IN CASE it does not work out. So we protect ourselves with all kinds of what ifs in order to be prepared for potential heartbreak. Which invariably leads to a self fulfilling prophecy albeit all done unconsciously.

How can one know where a relationship will lead without putting the time in? One has to stay in the moment and put the focus on one’s self. How are you taking care of yourself? What are your patterns? What are your fears? If your partner was a total asshole you would feel more comfortable since the threat of intimacy would be less. Take heart that you have chosen someone kind. To feel shame around acting out of fear is normal but that too has to be kept in check. Otherwise it becomes a yoyo of getting close, getting scared and pushing the partner away, feeling shame and back to the start of the cycle.

One thing I want to mention is that I am witnessing many relationships being challenged presently. It seems that we are waking up to our true needs on some level. So the truths that are being revealed need to be integrated into our relationships. That means we need to take risks of revealing issues and patterns that are habitual but not healthy. This takes the courage to communicate our true feeling and needs. Otherwise resentments and explosions are the only alternative outcome. This is why so many relationships (intimate or otherwise) are rupturing.

We come to this plane alone and leave it alone. All that fills those two points is a journey of self discovery and reflection. If we keep a solid focus on our own wellbeing and learn to hear our own voice, all will turn out well. Of course that relationship with self is an art form and takes years to foster. When in doubt, go within, commune with yourself. Not your head but your deep being. From that place we can gain the courage to push against our fears and open into love. This is the work at hand for all of us, every day.