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How to deal with uncertainty
5 tips for when you are unsure about a relationship
We’ve figured out how to control most things in our lives – our bodies, our weight, our work. But relationships? That’s something different altogether. We can’t control someone else’s heart, and because of that, there’s always a certain amount of uncertainty in relationships.
Sadly, it is this uncertainty that causes many of us to put up walls and push others away. Rather than face why they are unsure about a relationship, many people shut down completely. This is because at its core, our need for certainty is a survival mechanism, and in uncertain states, we do what is necessary to protect ourselves and our hearts. But when we learn how to deal with uncertainty in relationships, it is in this space that our ultimate spiritual growth evolves – and where we can find more joy and happiness than anywhere.
What causes uncertainty in relationships?
Most uncertainty in relationships is caused by fear, whether rational or not. You may fear being vulnerable with your partner and being rejected. Insecurity is another common form of fear that leads to uncertainty – when someone is insecure, they may fear their partner is cheating or no longer loves them, no matter how many reassurances they’re given.
Uncertainty can also be caused by a lack of communication. Have you and your partner discussed what your shared future looks like? Are you aligned on your dreams and goals? Are you confident that you have similar values and beliefs that will ensure you grow together, not apart?
Finally, comparing yourself to others is bound to cause uncertainty in relationships. When you look at the world of celebrity and social media, all you see is happy, smiling couples, and you start to wonder, could my relationship be better? If you want to know how to handle uncertainty in a relationship, remember that no one is perfect – and stop comparing yourself to them.
Is uncertainty in a relationship normal?
Some uncertainty in relationships is entirely normal and can even be exciting. You wouldn’t want to plan out every day down to the last second, would you? Uncertainty that is only occasional is also nothing to worry about. If you feel uncertain only after an argument or when you’re in a state of anger or fear, it’s likely those emotions that are causing your doubt.
However, uncertainty can also be a red flag. If you’re feeling uncertain nearly all the time, even when things are going well, there could be something deeper going on. Certain relationship dynamics, like on-again, off-again relationships or those that are very unequal, are also unhealthy. Learn about healthy relationship rules so you can determine whether your uncertainty is normal.
How do you use uncertainty in a relationship?
So just how do we overcome the innate urge to self-protect during periods of uncertainty? How do we learn how to surrender control to trust and faith? What’s the best way to learn how to deal with uncertainty in a relationship?
You do this through understanding, practicing and mastering the skills that are critical to your success in finding, nurturing and creating an outstanding relationship. There is a lot to learn and appreciate about the needs, feelings and behaviors of yourself as well as your partner – and, most importantly, how to use these understandings to best support your partner and your relationship.
1. Share your fears
How do you protect yourself from feeling pain? Do you give your partner the cold shoulder? Do you hold back love? When we’re unsure about a relationship, we often engage in unhealthy behaviors that push intimacy away.
Becoming aware of your behavioral patterns makes it easier to recognize them when they arise and helps you achieve a more objective viewpoint when emotions take hold. Recognizing your triggers and patterns is just the first step – next, you must share this information with your partner.
Open up to your partner about what you need in order to release your inner withholding and connect. Let your partner play a supportive role in helping you work through your fears and finding a new approach to any destructive patterns. You may be surprised just how much more trust this can create. Communicating openly, and not just talking but really communicating with your partner, can erode much of the uncertainty in relationships.
2. Give without getting
Learn to give without the promise of getting. As Tony says, “The secret to living is giving.” Learn to receive your greatest joy from seeing your partner fulfilled. Find out what drives your partner, what they are hungry for, what their goals are. Find out what their pains are. Don’t be in a relationship just asking what you can get from your partner. Open up and give this person your love and honesty and put aside your desire for getting something in return.
For example, look your partner in the eyes and ask them to explain what makes them feel loved. Honor and accept their answer as the truth and don’t attempt to change their needs to match yours. Remember, you love this person for who they are – and not who you want them to be. When you fully accept them just as they are, they will reward this with more openness and a deeper level of intimacy.
3. Choose trust
Learn to choose trust and faith, even when you are unsure about a relationship. Stay, even when everything in you wants to run. No matter what, believing that your partner has only positive intent is key to how to handle uncertainty in a relationship.
When you feel yourself reacting to your partner as if they are doing something “to you,” observe your reaction and trust their intention. Rather than reacting, open up and see what they need at that moment to feel loved. Focusing solely on their needs in the moment is one of your best options when it comes to how to deal with uncertainty and allows you to start the process of letting go.
4. Never punish
Punishment is a form of control and a common reaction to uncertainty in relationships. When our partner treats us in a way we don’t like, our immediate plan is to show them how much it hurts so they don’t do it again. This results in punishment such as accusations, the “silent treatment,” withholding of affection or acting out in a way that is meant to hurt them in return. However, punishment never works. Instead, it pushes the other person further away and begins creating mistrust.
The solution when we are hurting is not to punish – it’s to understand how to deal with uncertainty in a relationship by practicing love and acceptance. It seems counterintuitive, but when we show our partner that we still love them and want to understand why they did what they did, we are taking another step toward deeper intimacy.
5. Live consciously
Lastly, treat your partner as you yourself would like to be treated. Be the example of what you want in a partner. Step back and feel what your partner is feeling and be present for his or her pain. At the same time, recognize their unique needs. This will help you stay connected and increase the sense of fulfillment in the relationship.
For example, instead of demanding from your partner, decide to go first in providing what they need. Discover what you must do for them to feel safe being vulnerable and loved in your relationship. And when your partner is in distress, commit to listening with absolute compassion, with the sole goal of helping alleviate their suffering. Understand that uncertainty in relationships is not only normal, but it’s an opportunity to rise to the challenge of trusting and letting go of the outcomes you believe would be best.
Remember, you can wonder how to deal with uncertainty in relationships all day, but the only thing you can control is yourself: your actions, your reactions, the choices that you make in your relationships every day. Embrace the power you do have to shape the dynamic of your relationship, and you will get one step closer to creating true peace in your relationship.