Reader Question - The man I am dating is very successful and has a wonderful career. I really believe we are soulmates as does he. The issue is that he has openly admitted that our relationship will always come in second to his career. My friends tell me not to settle for always coming in second and that he can't be a soulmate if he would always put me second. Should I just walk away?
Before turning your back on this relationship you both believe is important, take a pause and a deep breath and ask yourself some deep soul-searching questions. In fact, this whole response can be made up of a list a questions for you to ask yourself.
Why do you think he is The One?
And why does he think you are The One? Clearly, there are things that you both enjoy about being together. And even more importantly, he has already made time for you and the relationship you share. Take a moment to remember and savor all the things that attracted you and have held you together so far. Relish the feeling of being together, the pleasures you share, the interests you have in common. Feel the love first. Then ask yourself....
What does coming in second really mean?
It’s natural to make lots of time for each other in the beginning. During the initial giddy phase, even the worst workaholic can’t resist being together with his or her new Love. At some point, every relationship moves past that phase in search of a more comfortable and sustainable lifestyle. That period of adjustment can be rocky and both parties may question aspects they didn’t even notice at first, being blinded by Love and all. They discover that habits and preferences they once ignored now bother them and throw their whole relationship into question. This is good. That’s how you figure out jointly what really works for both of you on a day-to-day basis.
Whether we like it or not, work is a vital aspect of life for most of us. It’s how we support ourselves and many of us, myself included, derive great pleasure from what we do. Personally, I would choose “work” over TV 99.99% of the time because “work” is always engaging, uplifting, enlightening, and challenging. My darling husband, on the other hand, could happily spend all his waking hours with the TV. Does he really come in second to my work? No! Do I really come in second to his TV? Not at all! Nevertheless, in the beginning, we each had to sort through those feelings.
When your Beloved says, “You will always be Second,” what does he really mean? This is a critical question to ask and answer honestly. For your own peace of mind, you need to know exactly how that would play out in real life. Coming in second may or may not make you a second-class citizen in his life, so you need a clear understanding before jumping to conclusions. Talk it over. Help him articulate what he means by asking specific questions. Consider the possibility that he trusts you enough to be completely honest. Don’t grill him, but think of scenarios and calmly talk together about how they might be handled. Listen carefully, don’t judge, and pay attention to how you feel as he answers.
In some professions, medicine for example, the doctor is always somewhat at the mercy of his patients’ needs. Perhaps your darling owns a company or runs a nonprofit and is responsible for the livelihoods and needs of other people. Maybe he is a successful realtor who must show property at his client’s convenience. Does he love what he does so much it feels more like a hobby than a job? Do either of you work from home where work schedules are flexible and lines are often blurred? Aren’t we all trying to find the sweet spot that combines passion and purpose?
Forget your friends’ advice for a moment and search yourself - How has he made time for you and your relationship so far? How has that worked for you? Are you already yearning for more from him? Are you plotting to make him change to suit you better? OR - Can you accept him as he is and love him as he is, just as you want to be loved for you are, as you are? Is there room in your heart for the two of you to grow together and find your way together? There are adjustments and compromises in every relationship, perhaps soulmate relationships most of all because of the real role they play in our lives of helping us awaken and return to Source. Look at your relationship as a whole, not as one single, possibly isolated, issue.
You aren’t perfect either
No matter how many times he tells you that you are perfect, there is something about you that bugs him just a bit. Oh yes, there is. You are human, after all. It may even be one of your most cherished attributes. How would you want him to handle it? Would you want him to make it a deal-breaker? Would you want him to welcome it? Would you be happy to consider ways to modify it so it fit better into your life together? What if he said a habit or hobby you hold dear is coming between you, making him feel like he comes in second in your life? Would you be willing to look at it objectively? Would you be willing to adjust?
By definition, when you enter a new relationship, both of you will have to make changes just to make space in your life. You cannot expect your Beloved to make all of them. Consider that there may be adjustments you can each make. That is a key component of becoming a soulmate for each other.
How about your own career?
Are you engaged with and satisfied in your own career? Do you ever put it first? Could supporting each other in your individual careers and career-building become Love Glue? What if he has always wanted a partner who could and would support him? Wouldn’t he treasure that in you?
You sound proud that he is very successful and has a wonderful career. Supporting him in the same manner you would want him to support you could be an important element of your relationship.
Turn your thinking around
Humans can be so contrary! Women who love men who want to be together all the time lament the lack of Me Time. Women who love men who work all the time lament the lack of coupe time. In both cases, balance is what you are seeking.
If your darling has a time-consuming career, you can look at it as a gift of time for yourself. Pursue a hobby, spend time with friends. Be thankful you can do those things and enjoy a happy relationship at the same time.
What does coming in “first” really mean to you?
Coming in first means different things to different people, and your friends cannot define that for you. Period.
In The Five Love Languages, author Gary Chapman explains that we feel love in different ways, both giving and receiving. Understanding your love language and the love language of your Beloved will help you know what coming in first really means to you. From there, you can make better choices about this and all the relationships in your life.
What really speaks love to you? Is it gifts? Acts of service? Time together? Physical touch? Encouragement and uplifting words?
And what about your Beloved? How does he like to give and receive love? Once you are clear about both of you, you can create your own insider Love Language based on what is most meaningful for the two of you. Because couples rarely share the same love language, every couple experiences this “language barrier” to one degree or another in their beginning. Welcome it as a way to become even closer.
Look at it this way - What if you have always wanted to live in France, but don’t speak French? One day, you are given a wild and crazy gift - the opportunity to live in France for as long as you like. There’s only one catch – you must start learning to speak the language. Notice you don’t have to be fluent in order to accept the gift. You only have to be willing to start learning.
Why are your friends saying this to you?
Is it because they are genuinely concerned or because they are a wee bit jealous?
If they are genuinely concerned, find out why and do some truth testing on yourself. If there really are problems and you are ignoring them in the giddiness of romance, you need to know it so you can make informed choices. Some problems are easily resolved. Others escalate into bigger problems. If it is a love languages issue, you can generally resolve it. Every couple has to do that. If there is an inherent selfishness or egotism that indicates you will always be the one compromising, your friends may be justified.
If things are so good between you and your Beloved that you both feel this is a soulmate relationship, why are you letting your friends’ doubts, which might have more to do with their own issues and love language, intrude? Could it be they are jealous? Afraid of losing your company? Imposing their own preferences on you? Get clear on your friends’ motives – their well-being or yours.
Balancing work and love is challenging for every couple. The secret is finding what's right for the two of you. You and your Beloved have lots to think about and talk about. Just keep in mind that work itself, even if it takes up lots of time, is not the culprit. Getting to the bottom of things, finding out what lies beneath the surface, will help you know your heart. And isn’t that what you really want anyway?
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Anne Wade is Teacher, Writer, Mentor, and Coach for courageous women in midlife and beyond who want to disrupt their own status quo and design life on their own terms, even in turbulent times. She has developed the Becoming Found process of going within to find and address the inner barriers we have all inadvertently built up against love, happiness, health, wealth and any other desires of our hearts. Teaching women to unapologetically shine like a superstar and live their legacy is Anne’s mission.
You can follow her on her Facebook page “Anne Wade – Becoming found” or join her “Becoming Found” Facebook group.