For a successful and loving relationship to endure the ups and downs life brings, there needs to be a foundation of safety as its cornerstone. We have found that without romantic safety, couples are unlikely to enjoy the depth of closeness and intimacy most partners crave. It is very difficult, or perhaps even impossible, for an individual who feels physically or emotionally threatened by his or her partner to risk trust and vulnerability. As a result, open honest sharing and emotional risk-taking will obviously be very foreign to this relationship.
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Threats to romantic safety need not be this extreme, however. The level of fear and mistrust such verbal threats can ignite may produce as much damage to a relationship as a shove or a slap. The variables that can result in a breach of safety are unique from relationship to relationship.
Some challenges in a relationship can pose no significant threat to one partner but may feel extremely threatening to another. That is why we maintain that no one ever gets to decide for an individual what his or her safety needs are. An individual is unsafe when he or she says so. We would love to hear from you, our readers, about some of your experiences creating and maintaining safety in your own relationship.
John and Elaine Leadem are licensed clinical social workers whose combined investment in the field of addiction treatment spans more than sixty years. They are both certified Sex Addiction Therapist and have co-developed a model for treating couples during the crisis stage of recovery. As a team they have thus far co-authored three books: It is wasteful to invest her time with someone that may be gone soon. You want to know if your prospective partner has the capacity and willingness to match you for a deeper emotional commitment.
There is also the fear that if after getting emotionally invested in a man there will be a break up. It makes sense for us to wonder where the relationship is going. She wants to avoid the emotions associated with being alone. This kind of safety is really about protecting herself from the painful emotions that come from her fears of break up and being alone. When a man is distant emotionally or physically from her it may bring up feelings of loneliness, or fear of a break up.
Seeking this type of emotional safety can lead to emotional drama. Fears and insecurity in relationship takes a woman out of her emotional integrity. In order to avoid her fears of being alone the woman may make efforts to keep her man close. It might be a criticism for going out with the boys for an evening. By discouraging him to do other things she is increasing their time together.
A critical comment is a means to reject his behavior so he would avoid criticism in the future. Becoming sad is a way for the man to notice her and get what she wants. If there is a lot of emotional charge the dynamic might include anger or jealousy. The Downside of getting what she wants If a woman engages in such efforts and is successful in controlling her man she will have influenced his behavior by her emotional reactions. With influence over his emotions she will have influence over what he does with his time. He will learn to avoid the activities that bring emotional reactions and criticism and do the things that she approves of.
They will spend more time together which will help her to feel solid in the relationship. It also distracts herself from the fear of being alone. In one part of her mind she has helped their relationship, but she has unknowingly created a separate feeling of not being safe. She will see him as someone that gives up his interests, runs around trying to make her happy.
He has stopped being his authentic self and started being what she wants him to be.
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At some level she perceives him as no longer being his own man. She could perceive him as having weak character and could lose respect for him. More importantly she will not feel safe with a man she sees as having a weak character. Some women will conclude that if they can influence or control their man then other women will also be able to control and influence him as well.
All of this adds up to losing respect and trust in the man. One assumption sometimes deep in the mind is that the stronger person controls the weaker person.
If she can direct him then he must be weaker than her. This image of weakness is amplified if the woman already considers her self as weak to begin with. On the one hand the woman has driven her man to be near her so that she can feel secure in the relationship. On the other hand because she now perceives her man to be controlled by her emotional reactions she no longer sees him as a solid foundation of strength.
The desire to spend time with a partner to have fun and create together can be completely authentic. When in her emotional integrity the sense of safety she feels is normal because together they are a stronger force than if she were alone. She is out of her emotional integrity when her motivation for time together is for protection from fears of being alone. A woman in her emotional integrity is free to ask for what she wants, and that includes spending time with her partner.
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It can sometimes be very difficult to discern whether we are acting on behalf of what we desire, or on behalf of fear avoiding. The situation looks impossible. If the man acquiesces he may appear weak to her. For the woman it is also impossible. If she works to keep the man close she is acting out of fear and runs the risk of being controlling and losing respect for herself and her man. Giving up limiting fear based beliefs It only looks impossible if we limit our options to the compensating strategies of control. If we are to find true happiness in our relationships it will require dissolving the beliefs and assumptions that create the painful fears and controlling behaviors.
When IN Love, Emotional Safety is as an Important as Physical Safety | Couples in Recovery
We will have to seek an emotional solution beyond what the mind offers as safety from fear. Great Love in Relationship is present when there is no fear. The fears of being alone are coupled with assumptions and beliefs about the experience and ourselves. Those beliefs usually involve not being good enough, unworthy, self rejection, and other people rejecting us. This is the painful emotion that people are seeking protection and safety from. These beliefs are lies and only exist in the mind.
Just for starters there have been many times when we have been alone and been happy. We have just learned to associate being alone with misery. When core beliefs of self rejection are dissolved there is no longer any fear of being alone and there is ample room for self acceptance and self love. Changing beliefs also eliminates the need and behavior of being controlling to our partner.
Great Love thrives in the absence of fear. What motivates the man to be with his woman?
- When IN Love, Emotional Safety is as an Important as Physical Safety.
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He might respond to the request of his woman just because he loves her and desires her to be happy. In this way he is completely in his emotional integrity. However a man that is uncomfortable with her reactions or feels guilty may be out of his emotional integrity. Even though his actions to be with her are the same the motivations are different. In my perception a small percentage of men actually live in their emotional integrity. Not only is the emotional quality of life much more beautiful, but it imbues to a woman something that is very attractive to her.