Two of the main ones that I don't think I shared here were that: One, I agreed with S that, yes, I do have an edge around being sympathetic when my partner is whining or being pitiful (ok those are totally judgmental words showing my lack of sympathy. ha). I want to grow in this area and be "softer" and more responsive and loving when my partner is feeling small. Two, at a certain point a few months before we broke up, he GAVE up and, when we were fighting, he wasn't coming from a place of love and trying to reconnect. He was just fighting, and this felt so painful and crazy-making.
I'm well over the relationship and moved on, but it was good to share these insights with someone who knows us both and is compassionate.
Looking ahead, we talked about some initial guidelines to follow as I am dating and getting closer to someone, to help me discern if they are available and capable of the type of relationship and intimacy I want. She mentioned that feeling "familiar" is different than feeling "comfortable," and that we can feel a person or situation is familiar when it resembles a situation from childhood, even if that situation carried anxiety or insecurity. Concrete guidelines I might use to reflect on a new dating relationship might include asking the following questions:
- Can I be myself? Do I feel comfortable expressing the different parts of who I am?
- Does he want me to "shine"? Is he excited about, and supportive of, my success and development?
- Does the relationship feel mutual? Is he meeting me in the middle or showing willingness to try? Is he willing to work with me to meet my needs within the relationship, as well as his own?
- When we "fight" or when he is expressing unhappiness with me or something I did, is there a sense that underneath it all he cares about/loves me and wants to get through the difficulty and return to feeling close?