SOMEONE ASKED ME THIS WEEKEND: “HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU FEEL SAFE IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP?
How do you feel that in your body?
How do you know?”
That was a brilliant question, one that took me time to find words for.
The thing is, it is hard to explain why I feel safer in my current relationships than I felt before. There have been partners who crossed cocreated agreements and boundaries, and some manipulated and lied. That surely brings unsafety. But there also have been those who didn’t do these things, but somehow I still didn’t feel as safe as I do now.
How do I know I feel safe?
– I’m not constantly thinking about the relationship.
– Most of the time I feel calm and peaceful in my body about the relationship, with occasional flare-ups of fear and insecurity, but those flare-ups are less common than I’m used to.
– When there is less communication between me and my partner, my head isn’t starting to find all kinds of dramatic reasons why I’m being ignored, abandoned, or unloved (instead I think he’s busy or sleeping).
So what makes this relationship safer then?
I think a big part is that we both know ourselves pretty well. We’re both not very interested in escalating emotionally, and we both can look into the mirror and communicate well.
Another huge part is that the anxious/avoidant attachment dance isn’t playing up that much. When I try to make him save me between the lines (the anxious pattern is very smart and subtle about this), he doesn’t pick up on that. It’s not that he doesn’t help me – he will when I ask for it.
We both know that we don’t own each other, but also that we respect each other and care for each other. Whenever we feel we need to make changes in our relationship agreements, there is space for conversation.
I always thought that relationships are hard, and that needs come with challenges and escalations. I am learning that there is a softer, gentler route.