What Should I Look for in a New Partner?

LouisaQuestions, Relationship Fluidity & BeyondLeave a Comment

You asked...

I'm married, but after opening our marriage it seems that we no longer have that much of a connection or at least only very slight. We have kids, so I've tried really hard to keep the family in close contact. We've transitioned the relationship so that we have a sort of 'tertiary' connection and separated quite a lot of things so that we can grow individually. And it's taken me a while, but I'm ok with it--now. Even quite proud of what we've achieved. He has another partner. I don't.

What keeps spinning in my mind is this: so I moved my financial situation forward, and I'm building new connections and opportunities work wise, but socially I'm still stuck - and I don't even know how to even start unsticking that. I don't know what I would want, I have no clue what kind of people I could possibly open up to or trust. I really feel totally lost and out of control in this area. Where does one even start?

Thanks for any thoughts.

I answered...

Who are we after a long term relationship has ended? What would we seek in a future partner? It's an interesting question, and one obviously not restricted to polyamorous relationships. Many of us--and especially women--have been taught to make sacrifices for the sake of the relationship and in doing so we risk losing our Selves. It sounds like this is what has happened to you. Here is something for you to consider.

They say the key to what you might seek in a future partner (and indeed the key to life) is to know yourself better. It sounds so simple, and it is... but that doesn't mean it is easy! I can personally attest to the fact that it is however highly enjoyable, so you can look forward to the future with anticipation. This in itself may not be easy at first... for we are wired to 'fear' the unknown, but the more able you are to embrace your journey with curiosity and excitement, the more rewarding it will be.

Before you start, I will explain what I mean by 'know yourself'. Perhaps this implies that you are already 'pre-programmed' in someway which means that your self is 'fixed'. It is not.

We all have unconscious programming of course; our mind creates mental models and survival mechanisms from what has worked in the past and lays them down in our memory banks. Memory is more than we can consciously recall. It is also the way past events affect future function. But what has worked in the past does not necessarily guarantee our survival and happiness in different circumstances.

To blindly follow the survival mechanisms laid down by your mind removes your agency.  It makes you into a victim of your past. And yet, we so often do follow them because we are not aware of them or even that we have a choice. We do all have choices available to us but in most cases, we tend to choose the path of least resistance--those survival mechanisms which have been laid down in the past, like a river following a worn away groove. We tend to choose what 'feels' right. If we are not aware that these are still choices, then we have no choice. If we consider our actions and abilities as a function of an inevitable pre-programmed script, then we cannot manage them, or change them. This is why you feel lost and out of control. But you have chosen this narrative (it is the easiest script for you--ask yourself why it is that you choose a state of 'no agency' in your relationships).

To make the choices which will bring you most happiness you must take responsibility for them. Changes will feel very difficult because you are laying down a new path for your river to flow through. There's a reason why the saying goes, "after breakdown, breakthrough."

Here's a new narrative you can choose.

Arise dear friend. I believe in you.

You are able to 're-create yourself' through new choices. You are, as you have always been, responsible for them. Which means that your choices past, present and future were and are yours, unconscious or not. Question why you have made choices in the past, without judgement; strive to become aware of what has been unconscious, bring awareness to your choices now and note the consequences--good or bad--again, without judgement. Do your new choices make you happy? Why? Why not? Rinse. Repeat. Remember that not choosing is still a choice.

If you cannot trust others, it is because you cannot trust yourself to know what makes you happy. Once you become aware of what makes you happy, you will also know what kind of person you can trust and what qualities to seek in a future partner.

Finally, you've been through a massively impactful experience; transitioning a relationship is not an easy thing to do. Congratulations. Use it now as an opportunity to take charge of who you are and who you become. But always take care of yourself, because this new path is unknown and scary.

Good luck.

PS. Here's a TED talk you may find inspiring on Forging Your Identity