One of the worst things in a relationship is feeling lonely, despite being with another person. Sadly, it’s a common enough experience for many couples, especially during these times of unexpected strain. It’s often one of those things that creeps up surreptitiously, until it is almost too late. So here are a few ways to be present in your relationship – and why it matters so much.
Why knowing how to be present in your relationship is vital
When we lose presence with our partner, we might experience some of the following things:
- Sexual attraction begins to diminish
- Your self-esteem falters
- You lose passion and enthusiasm for life
- You feel taken for granted
- You jump to conclusions
- You get defensive
- You lose the freshness and the desire for being with your partner
- You fail to notice when you could turn things around
- You get bored… and the rot of stagnation sooner or later sets in.
But many of us are tied up in trying hard in the world.
We’re competing and trying to prove that we are good enough, and worthy of love.
We try to be interesting and interested, to prove how clever we are, and how hard we are trying – instead of just enjoying and appreciating each moment of our precious life.
“Trying” always implies the possibility of “failing”. It can all to easily become effortful, exhausting and stressful.
In this mode, we are always comparing and contrasting, using our thoughts to enhance the worry and stress, focussing on what is wrong (and often embroidering it in glorious Technicolor so that it appears bright and enormous in our eyes!)
Even arguments and fighting create a connection, but when that doesn’t work, we just give in, or even give up. When that happens, there’s no possibility of movement within the relationship, and it slowly dies.
So are you really present in your relationship?
Or are you sitting on the sidelines and thinking about it?
Let me give you an example:
You could be making love or kissing your partner, but what is going on in your head is…
“How long is this going to go on for? Must remember to do that grocery order; it used to be more fun than this; did I reschedule that Zoom call? Wish you wouldn’t do that; this is so boring; got to get that financial report in by Tuesday; wonder what’s happening on Facebook; if we hurry now I can catch the 10 o’clock news; if I hold my tummy in perhaps they won’t notice that I’ve put on weight”
…and on and on and on with internal chatter in the background.
The problem here is we are failing to actually BE with our partner. However well we think we’re hiding that, energetically they will feel it – but not know what is wrong.
Women in particular are able to feel when their partner’s energy is not focussed on them, and it has a knock-on effect on their sexual arousal, together with their self-esteem.
When we lose the art of presence
In your unconscious mind, what is happening is that you are comparing, contrasting, distorting, deleting and generalising information as to what is happening, rather than being fully involved in the experience of being together.
This lack of being fully present is the same whether you are eating a meal, giving a speech, doing your work, or having a conversation. We have learned to distract ourselves so much that we miss out on the experience of living, and wonder how life has passed us by so quickly.
The feeling of being needed, loved and desired by someone is paramount, so when it is not fulfilled, we mentally leave the person we are with to go and do other things to fill the gap. We fantasise, we make ourselves extra busy, we worry and stress, anything to avoid recognising our real need and asking for it. We try to get this need met by thinking – but in fact love and connection with another person can only be experienced outside of thought.
What does it mean to be present in your relationship?
Being present is when you are there in full awareness, with no judgement about yourself, no conditions as to how the other should be and allowing the experience to unfold.
It’s about leaving behind any thoughts that could make you miserable, any emotional baggage from the past, any opinions and limitations, but just using all your senses to be fully where you are, and it’s quite magical.
It’s about getting out of your head and in touch with your body and feelings.
It’s about learning how to appreciate every moment of being in each other’s presence, increasing your sheer pleasure and making life more satisfying and worthwhile.
How to be present in your relationship
Remember a time when you were blissfully happy – it may have been making love, or looking at a rainbow, being by the sea or receiving a massage. Where was thought then?
It was not there, because you had all your senses completely wrapped around the living experience rather than thoughts about the experience. There was no comparing or contrasting, no judgment or limitation, just the sheer bliss of Beingness.
This is what we need to learn to re-create with our partner – when you do it will bring back those feelings of ecstasy and awareness, of vitality and aliveness, of feelingful care and loving attention.
First – stop trying.
Trying causes tension. Tension causes competitiveness with an inbuilt fear of failure and stresses the whole system. So breathe deeply and learn to let go …and relax.
When you really relax, not only your body but also your mind and your thoughts, you can allow your judgement to be suspended, you can stop being defensive, you can go through and out the other side of any limitations, as you learn to love from an enlightened and intelligent space.
There is no peace and harmony where your mind is racing and judging and being emotional. Love is not an emotion – that is where you attach conditions and it cannot last. Love is a state of being, and it is eternal.
Second: This may sound odd, but it generates an amazing and wondrous unconditional freshness.
Every evening say “Everything about my relationship with (insert your partner’s name here) today I now destroy and uncreate.” (This is a technique taken from Gary Douglas’s work from Access Consciousness)
So when you wake up in the morning, you have left behind any negative opinions or conclusions, prejudices and assumptions about them from the previous day. It means you can start again, afresh in the here and now every day with the person in front of you with no resentment or hurt from anything that has gone before.
You will be fully aware of what is really going on, rather than looking through conditioning and programming that stops you from seeing the truth.
It allows you to focus on the other person and get feedback which way to go, and you will get insights and be able to operate from that. You will really start to see the other person and draw out their potential as you’re no longer operating from what you think you know about them.
Third: Connect to your senses
Ideally practice this exercise out in nature somewhere where there is an explosion of colours and sounds in the trees or the water, the sky, the birds, the rain. Once you have mastered the technique, practice doing it with your partner when you are kissing or making love or just holding each other and looking into each other’s eyes.
You will be amazed and delighted how the intensity of love-making increases as you begin to wrap your senses 100% around what is actually happening as you become fully present. Here’s how to do it:
Practice for 15 seconds at a time just using your Sight – look at what is around you with no labelling, no comparing, no judging. Just see the colours, the shapes, the textures.
Listen to all the sounds, the vibration, the tonality, the softness, the harshness, each and every sound with no labelling, no judging as to whether you like it or not.
Feel physically the heat of your body, the breeze and sunlight on your skin, the touch of your lover, the intensity, the gentleness of the caress.
Feel the emotional side, the caring, the loving, the warmth, the safety, the nurturing, the pride in your body, the vitality of your cells, the beat of your heart and of theirs
Smell the air, the scent, the sea, the earthiness, whatever is around you, the perfume of your lover’s skin in different parts of their body
Taste – highly linked with smell, taste the air, taste your lover.
Now go back to Sight and go through this sequence over and over again until you truly have mastered being able to stay out of thought and be in the present moment.
To know how to be present in your relationship you need to be in unconscious attention – in other words not aware that you’re doing anything other than just being. If you apply conscious attention to it, you will start to look through the old programming of limitation again. Once you are fully present, colours will appear more vibrant, your connection with nature and your lover will literally be mind-blowing, and your relationship will go from strength to strength.
And finally, if you find that your partner is not being present with you, if they are always in their head thinking, rationalising and being logical, try gently touching them, bringing them back into reconnecting with their body. Learn to appreciate your partner for the miracle of life that they are, and allow the magic to flow.
Fashion Designer | Grandmother | Dancer
One of many master coach and trainer Susie Heath is an expert in love and intimacy and an internationally acclaimed author and speaker. She has been a buyer for Marks and Spencer, a shoe designer, a horticulturist featured at the Chelsea Flower Show and more.
Now, as a coach and trainer she has has worked personally with hundreds of men and women, helping them reawaken their authentic selves with her profound coaching and movement workshops.