Did you ever heard yourself or your partner saying: “I feel pressured”? Well if so, I believe this story is for you- especially as ‘pressure’, as I see it, is the number 1 killer of relationships in our time.
Here you can read about the last vacation day I had a week ago with my girlfriend:
The dynamics of ‘pressure’:
Last Thursday, after 8 days together in Portugal, I drove my girlfriend to the airport (I was planning on staying for few more days on my own). 7 out of the 8 days were wonderful with a lot of sweet name calling- ‘Booboo’ and ‘Mimi’ and ‘Lillu’… for 7 days, not 8. The last day was less wonderful for us…:
In our last day I experienced a growing sense of pressure thinking that for her it is really important the last day to be special, which meant to me: That I SHOULD be loving, sweet and close. Behhhh.
The more I thought that ‘I should be loving’, the less loving and close I became.
Yet, as I wanted her to be happy, I was trying to hide it (by managing to produce a smile or a hug here and there), but hiding can never last very long… It all exploded at the airport in the very very last moment:
I was driving. We saw the ‘airport’s 10m free parking’ in front of us. I dislike proving to machines that it was less than 10m that I parked, so when I saw cars stopping on the side-road to drop passengers (without entering the parking), I was delighted to follow them. While approaching, I saw a policeman writing fines to my fellow drivers. Shit. In a swift shift, I continued driving, passing the policeman and soon I realized- “mmm… there is no other place to stop”. 80 meter further, I found a tiny (illegal) corner to stop. Stressed, knowing the policeman is just behind us I wished my girlfriend to leave the car quickly. And my girlfriend… She was angry that I didn’t stop at the 10m parking…
From there it escalated in seconds- uncovering tension that was accumulating throughout the day- it ended up with me nearly screaming at her: “BYE !!!! Get out of the car”. And she, with a metallic voice replying: “Great, this is how you wanted it to be!”.
This was certainly not how she hoped our vacation to end… And certainly not my favorite way either, as I left with a knot in my stomach for a couple of hours. I was happy to be on my own, but the knot kept on hurting inside. Mmm…
So what happened there?
physicist would say that in order to create ‘pressure’, you need 2 opposing forces (otherwise no pressure is rising). On a human/emotional level it’s exactly the same- it’s not enough to have 1 force (the pressure that ‘I should be loving’). In order for there to be pressure there must be another force that is opposing it.
It was only 2 days later that I could see my part in the ‘I feel pressure’, the opposing force was my own fear of loosing he!! I was terrified to disappoint her. Cause if she will be disappointed, (in my deep down imagination) she will be fed up with me, leave me, and find someone better than me (someone romantic who is sweet in last day’s vacations…).
At the airport, when I felt the pressure I passed her the message of: “Ooof, can you let me be me and stop pressuring me into a legend-like relationship of a beautiful last day. Back off!”. Receiving this message her heart got frozen with pain and anger.
2 days later, when I shared with her the deeper layer of my honesty that I have connected with: “You know, in this last day of the vacation, my pressure was that I was deeply torn- On one hand I was absolutely terrified that you will be disappointed if there is no closeness between us, and at the same time, I wanted to be true to you and in-tune with myself when I am with you, and not faking something”. Suddenly there was a shift. It instantly melted a big part of the tension away, and she said: “ah, this is much easier to hear than the former message. Because before I didn’t understand why you are so distanced, and the only sense I could make of it is that you don’t give a damn about me. But hearing this I can understand”.
Few minutes later, I could again call her ‘Booboo’ again. Without any forcing.
It maybe sound simple, but though I teach it daily, I keep on forgetting it in the heat of the moment: To speak ‘Vulnerable honesty’ (instead of ‘judgmental honesty’)- That whenever a dialogue clashes, I can always go one layer deeper in my honesty, until we touch the layer where cooperation, love and understanding can naturally flow again between us. This layer is there, available to us all time, yet not easy to reach.
With a wish for pressure free relationships,