© October 2010 by Fabienne Lopez
Saturn in Libra is showing me a great deal about my Modus Operandi as far as romantic relationships are concerned. So far, it has taught me that my relationships are based on 3 unhealthy pillars:
1) A great need for validation
2) An inability to assert my needs
3) A learned helplessness
The Need for Validation
My need to be validated by a relationship — meaning I am worth something as a woman because a man is interested in me — has been stronger than me being conscious that I was not interested in him.
The realization is not a cause for guilt, but rather a wake-up call about how my drive for approval, as far as relationship are concerned, has run my life in an unconscious way.
The need for validation is pernicious and sneaky. Even though I am now aware of it, it pops up again and again.
The most common form of getting validation that I’ve used has been to try hard to please: preparing gourmet meals, running an efficient house, being a good hostess, never forgetting anybody’s birthday on his side of the family, etc.
I could not say “No” to taking care of “the man in my life.”
Inability to Assert my Needs
This drive to please was accompanied by an inability to assert my needs.
(What?! Ask him to do something for me? Not unless I had a really good reason!)
Just the thought of asking would freak me out, even for the simple things, like, “Where do want to go out for dinner?”
I had the hardest time coming up with an answer. It took me a long time to break this habit. (I still fall into this trap. Out of habit, I sometimes still think that I will be punished for expressing any desires.)
A learned helplessness has also been part of the mix. Can you change the light bulb for me? Can you hang this for me? Can you do this-or-that requests were a habitual strategy to get attention. Asking instead of doing it myself has been a tool to make my partner feel useful, needed, valued. The implied belief is that I needed to appear less smart and competent than I am, because “men don’t like smart women.” It is also a very manipulative way of having control in a relationship.
The acknowledgment of my need for validation yielded two observations:
I do not know how to be in a healthy relationship. Period. Any type of relationship. Not with friends, colleagues, acquaintances or intimate ones. What I mean by healthy is where my need to please does not become the driving force of the relationship.
I wouldn’t even know how to define a “healthy relationship” for myself. Intellectually, I can say that it is an equitable give and take, where partners are at the same level. But I wouldn’t know what that looks like, even if it were right before me.
This is something that I will have to learn the same way I learned helplessness, subservience and how to please others. Practice. And positive reinforcement.
I am very conflicted between being independent and being in a relationship.
I learned early on, as a kid, that emotional distance is the best tactic if one wants to avoid painful hurts.
But to keep the relationship, I would go through the motions and the trappings (i.e. need to please, taking care of the partner, helplessness), while at the same time choosing people emotionally unavailable.
Actually their unavailability would be a big advantage. As long as they did not make demands on me such as being present and engaged in the relationship, the relationship could go on and on. This way I would preserve my independence while at the same time fulfilling my need for companionship.
I believe that my last break-up has allowed me to overcome these tendencies. But I will need to wait until my next romantic relationship to be sure.
In the meantime, I’ll put my focus on examples of good relationships, wherever I can find them.
Romance novels here I come!
Fast Forward to October 2010
This post was written on December 2009. At the time, I decided not to publish it as I felt very exposed in this story. Fast forward to September 2010.
As Mercury retrograded in Virgo in my 7th House of relationships, I reviewed what I wrote back then. The story is still very personal, but I have lost the emotional attachment to it,
It is with a clear head that I can reflect on what I wrote and measure the changes that have occurred in my life since then.
I am not sure about the need to be validated by a relationship. Right now, I do not feel the need to be in one, except the one I have with myself. And this feels plenty for me right now.
I am getting much better at asserting my own needs and establishing boundaries. I am not still not quite used to it in the sense that I am surprised when I do assert myself but only after the fact. I am stating my needs first and only afterwards noticing that I did it. A very good feeling as it shows how much progress I have made in this area of my life. I have had some lapses but they are pretty minor.
Helplessness is gone. For good.
Observation #1 is still valid as I have not been in a romantic relationship since my break-up. So I will only be able to see what changed when I get involved in one.
Observation #2 continues to be true. However, I am much more conscious of it’s existence and will have to learn to integrate the conflicting needs in a future relationship.
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