Mark’s a 49-year-old real estate investor who’s been dating for decades but has never been married.

He meets great women, but as soon as things heat up—as soon as the women start expressing their desire to take things to the next level, he breaks up with them.  Then, for a few weeks, he feels really relieved that he’s escaped being controlled or smothered.  But it’s a vicious cycle.  This sense of liberation is followed by despair, so he goes out again, looking for the “right” woman to date.

We’ve only been working together for a few weeks, and he’s just starting to get some clarity about why he’s caught in this terrible cycle.

But his situation and issues are strikingly similar to those my other clients are experiencing, and I have a feeling some of you can also relate.

Do you fear being controlled or smothered by the person you’re dating?  Do you back out whenever things start getting truly intimate in a relationship?  Do you find yourself repressing your loving feelings?

Here are some strategies that can help you.


1.  What are your emotional needs?  How do you want to feel in a relationship? 

You might not be able to identify these needs all at once. That’s totally okay. Gaining this kind of clarity is a process—shorter for some, longer for others.

For now, just let yourself start fantasizing about how you’ll feel when you’re with the right person.

For instance, during our private sessions, I’ve been helping Mark to turn negatives into positives.  He fears being controlled or smothered by women, so we’ve been exploring how he needs to feel that his partner supports his independence (the healthy part of it).

2.  What qualities do you feel are important in a partner? 

I’m not talking about superficial qualities about looks or income or anything like that.  I’m talking about inner characteristics.

Again, you might find it really helpful to turn the negative into a positive.

Mark, for example, needs to find someone who is secure and not overly needy or anxious.

People who are secure are comfortable with closeness and won’t try to push him away, but at the same time they won’t cling to him.  They’re consistent and reliable and don’t’ send mixed messages.

Mark had been dating women indiscriminately, but now he’s getting clearer about  how he really wants to feel and what kind of qualities matter to him.

3. Contemplate the true purpose of marriage

We are here to grow and the partnership we experience in marriage is a perfect way to learn and grow.

Marriage is a spiritual, financial and emotional bond where two people with integrity come together to build a life.

Harville Hendrix, father of Imago, explains that as a loving partner, we are responsible for meeting our spouse’s needs and creating an emotional environment where our partners can thrive.

When your partner understands you, he or she will be able to give you the gift of meeting YOUR emotional needs and YOU will be able to give your partner the gift of meeting his or hers.

But the key is consciousness.

When we know the agenda of love, it’s great.

You’re not going to be perfect.  Neither is your spouse. But. . .

If you get together with someone who supports and values your emotional needs and has the right qualities for your particular temperament, you’ll be able to grow together—to work through your personal challenges and blockages while creating an amazing life!