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Your Love Relationship May Need a Supporter or Mentor

Get extra help and care for your love relationship.

Professional dating coach Dr. Diana Kirschner, author of the book Love in 90 Days: The Essential Guide to Finding Your Own True Love, says that having a mentor while dating can help women be aware and accountable for their behavior throughout the dating process. And as I digest her dating tips for women, I can also see how having a mentor can be important for maintaining and building a love relationship for not only women but also for men.

As our relationship grows, our needs, desires, and expectations change. And, with this, the shape of our relationship also changes. While navigating the changes in the relationship, both partners can benefit from good amount of handholding and support from a trusted supporter.

Do you have supportive friends that cheer you on at the times of difficulty—when things get rough in your relationship? Are there people—or a person—in your life that helps you navigate the ebbs and flows of your relationship? Here in this blog, I share my perspective on how having supportive allies and mentorship can give you strength as a partner while you are building your relationship.

TTLC in the dating process

What women need, says Dr. Kirschner in her book is “TTLC”—Tender and Tough Loving Care. She believes that it is important for a woman to have a mentor and supporter while going through the dating process. Dr. Kirschner indicates that TTLC represents our deep emotional needs, “When you were growing up you needed to be chosen, nurtured, valued, taught, and disciplined so that you felt loved, empowered, and safe. You wanted to be told how adorable you were, taught how to sing your own songs, and stopped from playing with fire or getting into trouble” (p. 88).

TTLC for maintaining and building a relationship

As I understand the dynamics of romantic relationships, Tender and Tough Loving, Care might be also very helpful for maintaining and building a love relationship. Here are three reasons why:

  1. You need and want to be accountable and empowered when you are in love—this means looking at yourself and understanding yourself in the context of the relationship
  2. You need and want to be loved when you are in love—to deal with feelings that cause you anxiety and overwhelm you. This allows you to feel that you are lovable at a time of crisis in your relationship.
  3. You need and want to be nurtured when you are in love—having a compassionate witness, someone who can provide handholding while growing to be a partner

Building the culture of support and mentorship in your love life

Love mentor candidates, Dr. Kirschner says, can include good aunts, stepparents, 12-step sponsors, life coaches, therapists, ministers, rabbis, growth course leaders, married work mentors, and others. She emphasizes that it is important to pick a person who has a proven track record and is more successful at love than you (p.90). And I would like to add that your mentor will be able to see the three key elements that come up in relationship; Us, You, and I.

And I think you can ask your mentor to remind you of such things as the following:

“How do you understand what happened between you and your partner? (Part of Us)

"What did your partner do and say in the fight.” (Part of You)

“In what way did you contribute to the fight?” “What’s your part in the fight?” ( Part of I )

“What’s my part in this?”

The question “How did I contribute to the fight?” is a very powerful question that we can be asked and we can ask ourselves. Often it is only when we realize how we contribute to an argument that we can make a solid empowered contribution to its resolution. In this way, we allow our understanding of ourselves to help us have a more honest and balanced dialogue about what is going on between our partners and ourselves.

Asking your mentor to help you explore your part in an argument prior to discussing it with your partner can provide you with an honest, grounded and caring understanding of the argument. This also allows you to experiment with what you actually want to say to your partner before discussing it with your partner.

Transforming your internal conversation into an honest conversation

“In the past, I complained about my ex-girlfriends with my best friends,” says Lucas “and this inevitably made my friends think, ‘Your girlfriend is awful! Why are you still with her?!’ In fact, what I neglected to mention in the talks with my guy friends was my own contribution to the fights and explosions. I did not want to come clean with what I contributed to the fight. Yeah, she acted poorly. But so did I. I have had trouble being honest with myself.”

“But with the help of my old friend Sophia this time around,” continues Lucas, three years into his relationship with Amy, “I learned to look at what I did to contribute to the fight. Sophia has been in a committed, romantic relationship for more than a decade. She listens to me and does not judge me. She relates to me at the time of my greatest agony. She reminds me that my girlfriend and I love each other and we are, if history is to be trusted, going to resolve this current issue. In return, I support Sophia when she runs into tough times with her boyfriend. She has been a great support and ally.”

Most of us have the tendency to blame our partners for the things that go wrong in our relationships. Dialogues with a trusted mentor/supporter can open a space for discussing what you did to contribute to the fight. But it does so only when you take the initiative—and the emotional risk—of openly and honestly discussing your part in the current issue, fight or problem. In this way, you can also account for, understand and emphasize what you did—and can do—to resolve the issues.

Speaking to your mentor (support or ally) might help you digest and process—rather than act out—your feelings of guilt, hurt, uneasiness, anxiety, and fear of abandonment. Your mentor can give you a brand new perspective and can affirm that your feelings are real, expectable and appropriate to the context of a romantic relationship.

Experiencing compassion from a trusted mentor can help you breathe and regain a sense of self in your love relationship that can be relationship-saving! Your compassionate ally might say with conviction: “Hey, it sounds like your fights are getting shorter and shorter!” With loving confirmation, you might consciously realize that you and your partner can be open with each other, take emotional risks, and survive those ups and downs of love—no matter how rocky your love feels at times.

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