Relationship counsellors sometimes find themselves working with people who are asking for advice about a new relationship. Once or twice in the past you have met someone you have thought might be the one, but the relationship you hoped would develop and change your life has never really got off the ground; somehow it was over before it had really begun. Now you have met someone new, and this time you are determined to do all you can to keep the relationship growing and developing, and you don’t know where to start.
There are some questions you can ask yourself, some patterns of behaviour you can encourage or discourage, some contributions you can make to support this fragile situation to develop positively, if you are sure that is what you really want. Of course this is a risky undertaking and of course you might get hurt, but if you keep telling yourself that “it might not work out” the negativity in this thought will communicate itself to the other person, who might then (reluctantly) withdraw. And this in itself is a risk.
So the question to ask yourself is “Do I want to take the risk?” If your answer is that you don’t, then the only thing to be done is to break off contact with the other person. It is neither kind nor honest to prolong a relationship in which you have no belief.
If you decide that this person and the possibility of a deeper relationship are what you want, then on some level you have committed yourself. Now is the time to take stock of your behaviour.
If you are a really enthusiastic person, someone even your closest friends can sometimes feel overwhelmed by, try to give your new potential partner some space. At this stage you don’t know how s/he feels about you, so you need to tread gently. Don’t be texting, emailing or Tweeting several times a day and then being desperately disappointed when you don’t get instant positive responses. Don’t pretend to be someone you are not, but ration your contact, give the other person a chance to look forward to hearing from you. It is also a good idea not to be too enthusiastic in telling all and sundry that you have met the love of your life after only two dates. Try to wait a bit longer before going public, for both your sakes.
What goes along with this is that it is very important not to let go of the rest of your life. Don’t give up on your old friends, your hobbies and interests, your regular commitments – they are important parts of your life and have all contributed to what has made you attractive and interesting to your new possible partner, and in any case if things don’t work out you are going to need them. Don’t let yourself lose touch with other people who are important to you.
Another area where it is wise to apply the breaks is in telling the new person about your past relationships. What is s/he to think if you spend most of the evening talking about other people and your feelings for them? Yes you are hoping for emotional intimacy, but it can’t be developed in a short time. Ask yourself how you would feel if the other person spent the evening talking to you about his/her exes. Spend the time getting to know your date. If you find that you are constantly thinking about someone else, then ask yourself who you really want.
Finally, and importantly, don’t be afraid to pay compliments. If you really like something about your new date then don’t be afraid to say so, without making a meal of it. Little positive comments can really lift someone’s spirits without overwhelming them. And be prepared to receive compliments too. Try not to be negative or embarrassed, let yourself enjoy what someone who is becoming important to you has said.
If anything in this article has rung a bell with you, if you would like to talk anything through, there are qualified and experienced counsellors at Birmingham Counselling Services who would be able to work with you. You can get in touch via our website: www.BirminghamCounsellingServices.co.uk or by calling us on 0121 314 9903.