Attracting Healthy RelationshipsAnna Ciulla
“Remember the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.” –Dali Lama XIV
Relationships are a universally rewarding and frequently challenge arena in which human beings experience the opportunity to learn and grow. Although relationships offer many rewarding aspects, whatever rewards they offer depend upon the self-awareness and mutual commitment to growth of both parties involved. For those struggling with addiction, relationships present an additional set of challenges that can be particularly difficult to navigate. Co-dependence, toxic emotions, and unhealed trauma—all behavioral and psychological characteristics of addiction—increase the potential for conflict and dysfunction already inherent in deep human connection.
One commonly overlooked but critical factor involved in attracting healthy relationships is that we tend to attract those people who mirror our level of personal and spiritual development. If we want to attract healthy, functional relationships, then it is important that we develop the strength of character and spiritual tools necessary to make doing so a realistic possibility. Many people erroneously believe that they can cheat their way into attracting mutually fulfilling relationships—but this is not the case. Many relationship coaches and experts agree that, before seeking to find fulfillment through another, one must work on establishing good self-esteem, emotional balance, clear, healthy boundaries, and a strong sense of personal faith and purpose. Together, these holistic tools provide a solid foundation from which to approach human connection.
Although people often have pure intentions and heartfelt desires inspiring their quest for intimacy, they may lack clarity in their search and remain unable to define fundamentals necessary to the fulfillment of their intentions. This is especially true in active addiction and early recovery, when the already steep challenges faced by those experiencing newfound sobriety create additional barriers. As a general guideline, there are three primary pillars upon which healthy relationships are built:
- Purpose: In the beginning of any relationship, we must ask ourselves what is the goal of the relationship? If we remember that the purpose of any relationship should always be to establish loving connection, then naturally, whatever is not important will fall away. The value of asking ourselves what the purpose of each relationship is in advance is that it helps to establish clarity, and then creates the means for love to unfold in its own unique way and time.
- Promise: Toxic emotional and behavioral patterns—including unconscious sabotage and despair—are frequently part of the ego’s agenda. For example, subconsciously we can push something away by being fearful that whatever we might attract will be hurtful or dangerous. In reality, we must summon the courage to love ourselves before seeking external fulfillment. If we don’t love ourselves, then how can we truly love another person? Self-love is the first pre-requisite for actually loving another and, more importantly, attracting a functional relationship.
- Power: The final pillar is power. It is important to approach each possible relationship that comes our way from the power of completion, realizing that we don’t really need anyone in our life for our own happiness, but rather we want them in order to complement our happiness. When our actions stem from the power of completion, we enable love to be what it truly is meant to be and remove the self-limiting barriers that we have erected—all of which prevent healthy intimacy.
As the Big Book implores, and countless AA sponsors recommend, the first year of sobriety should be committed to self-growth and emotional, physical, and mental healing. Although the three primary pillars listed above provide a solid foundation in our quest for healthy, satisfactory human relationships, they are usually not attainable without traveling further on our journey toward sobriety.