7 Questions to Unfuck Your Love Life & Yourself

Can you journal your way to a more fulfilling, better love life?
I certainly think so.
7 Questions to Unfuck Your Love Life & Yourself 1

It takes a degree of intro­spec­tion to dis­cern one's own:

  • Life goals and core values
  • Motivations under­ly­ing their tendencies
  • Personal his­to­ry and trau­ma responses

… along with their part­ners' to see if they're com­pat­i­ble and in alignment.

Consider this post a spin-​off of my past article, “I’m Ready to Start Dating. Now What?

That oth­er blog post was about stay­ing pos­i­tive through the undu­lat­ing ups and downs in the dat­ing scene. This list is more about resources for a nitty-​gritty audit of your deep­est desires — includ­ing shad­ow work.

How to use these questions & resources to manifest your dream relationship(s)

Reading this list is one thing, but how you use them is where the work lies. Here are some action­able steps for gain­ing clar­i­ty about your love life.

Journal about these ques­tions for your­self. Write down your respons­es, spread­sheet them, record voice notes, make a vision board — what­ev­er works for you.

Unpack these top­ics with an exter­nal par­ty. A friend could help; a men­tal health pro­fes­sion­al may be an even bet­ter fit. They can point out per­spec­tives you may oth­er­wise miss on your own. The exter­nal feed­back is espe­cial­ly impor­tant if you're the type of per­son to over­think or get stuck in analy­sis paralysis.

Go through this list after a date and think about how your prospec­tive part­ner would answer. See how much (or how lit­tle) you know about them and the way they think!

Do your own thing and go touch some grass. Working on your mind­set is only half the bat­tle, and there's a point where intel­lec­tu­al­iz­ing mat­ters of the heart can be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive. The oth­er half is mov­ing the ener­gy and tak­ing action. Integrate new insights and course-​correct as needed.

On to the questions!

If I miraculously woke up to my ideal love life without having to compromise what I wanted, what would that look like?

Too often, what we say we want in a rela­tion­ship is taint­ed by oth­ers' expec­ta­tions. Be unapolo­getic about how you'd like to feel in a per­fect world!

Recommended resources for goal-setting

Have I made time and space for the relationship(s) and lifestyle I want?

Dating your­self, for exam­ple, means you've left room in your sched­ule explic­it­ly for enjoy­ment. From there, it's a lot eas­i­er to allo­cate the time and ener­gy to build­ing a rela­tion­ship than if you were, say, work­ing all day.

It's also lim­it­ing to live with par­ents while hook­ing up and play­ing the field. You get the idea.

Prep your liv­ing space and cal­en­dar as if you were expect­ing com­pa­ny and expe­ri­ences that embody your core desired feelings.

What wants and needs am I looking to fulfill with this connection?

Maybe what you want from oth­er peo­ple is some com­bi­na­tion of the following:

All of those are valid rea­sons to seek com­pa­ny. Still, it's worth it to:

  1. Name your rela­tion­ship wants and needs.
  2. Consider a strat­e­gy for sat­is­fy­ing those desires on your own, with friends, or in a community.

Recommended reading about relationship wants and needs

What does being in a romantic relationship mean to me?

Not every­one defines rela­tion­ships the same way. And the expec­ta­tions you expect are "obvi­ous" about dat­ing might not be to oth­er people.

Some assume a monogamy esca­la­tor with mar­riage and chil­dren at the top, while oth­ers don't. Some peo­ple are poly. Some peo­ple are more open to cud­dling and sleep­ing with emo­tion­al­ly inti­mate, long-​term friends.

What those friend­ships don't have, but roman­tic rela­tion­ships do, is up to you to delineate.

Recommended reading about defining relationships

What unmet needs did I have as a child or in traumatic times, and how did those insecurities affect me?

The chal­lenges we faced when we were inno­cent and help­less leave a deep impres­sion on us and dri­ve our sub­con­scious — no mat­ter how "woke" our par­ents were.

I'm par­tial to using the Enneagram types. When I ask some­one about that, what I'm try­ing to do is dig up roots regard­ing how they relate to:

  • Their feel­ings of shame, inad­e­qua­cy, envy, or lack of love (Enneagram types 2, 3, and 4)
  • External con­flicts and anger (types 8, 9, and 1) 
    • Feeling your feel­ings and nav­i­gat­ing dis­agree­ments with a part­ner is so important.
  • Practical con­cerns of safe­ty and pre­pared­ness for life's dis­com­forts (types 5, 6, and 7)

It gives me con­text for under­stand­ing my behav­iors and oth­ers' — and accom­mo­date every­one involved with love and care.

Recommended reading about childhood upbringing and adult coping mechanisms

What’s my attachment style?

Attachment the­o­ry is anoth­er frame­work for under­stand­ing how upbring­ing affects adult rela­tion­ships. Here's my attach­ment the­o­ry sum­ma­ry in a nutshell.

Children rely on care­givers to sat­is­fy their phys­i­cal and emo­tion­al needs. When a parental fig­ure doesn't give them the love and atten­tion they were hop­ing for, there are vary­ing ways that the child might react:

  • Loud "protest" behav­iors or showy "act­ing up" to be noticed
  • Withdrawing, numb­ing, and dis­tanc­ing them­selves from their parents
  • Panicking by them­selves while prepar­ing for the oth­er shoe to drop
  • Trusting that their par­ents will be there for them, maybe not right away, but soon enough

As adults, our respons­es tend to fol­low sim­i­lar lines dur­ing inse­cure inter­ac­tions with roman­tic part­ners, whether that's by fight­ing, flee­ing, or fawning/​appeasing.

Recommended resources about attachment theory and relationships

Disclaimers & reminders

I touched on attach­ment the­o­ry in my pre­vi­ous post, 4 Shitty Dating Advice Marketing Ploys I’m Sick of Seeing. So many nar­ra­tives about dat­ing revolve around the idea that women are clingy (preoccupied/​anxious) and men dis­tant (dismissive/​avoidant) — and I'm not a fan of how much nuance that misses.

Attachment the­o­ry is a bii­i­ig, broad top­ic. And while there may be trends along gen­der lines, they're not absolutes, and we should con­sid­er how unique and com­plex humans are. It would be reduc­tive to frame some­one as hav­ing one attach­ment style — rather than show­ing vary­ing inse­cure behav­iors at dif­fer­ent times with dif­fer­ent people.

Also, I'm not a men­tal health pro­fes­sion­al. I'm just here to give a start­ing point for help­ful infor­ma­tion to know about yourself.

What have I learned from my past patterns?

Maybe I'm telling on myself, but I think that it's human to:

  • Have hurt others
  • Have been hurt by others

And hope­ful­ly, we can learn from them. Patterns some­times show up, and we uncov­er a new lay­er or facet of cause-​and-​effect each time.

Adult rela­tion­ships are con­di­tion­al, and we gen­er­al­ly have the agency and respon­si­bil­i­ty to advo­cate for our needs.

In many cas­es, there were ways the par­ties could have com­mu­ni­cat­ed about or man­aged expec­ta­tions dif­fer­ent­ly. (Sometimes, the way to han­dle it is to cut your loss­es and leave. Knowing your hard bound­aries is so important.)

Recommended reading

On the flip side, maybe there was some­thing a younger ver­sion of you embod­ied — before you accu­mu­lat­ed new lay­ers of expec­ta­tions from oth­ers — that you would like to re-​integrate into your life now.

Self-​compassion goes a long way here; you did the best you could with what you knew at the time.

As you learn about your­self and know bet­ter, you can do bet­ter — both for oth­ers and yourself.

This post is spon­sored. The writ­ing and opin­ions expressed here are my own.

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4 Responses

  1. Caa says:

    Great ques­tions for myself and my partner

  2. Anna says:

    When (or if) I will want to start a rela­tion­ship I'll cer­tain­ly revis­it this page. Thank you!

  3. Lynn says:

    Thank you for pro­vid­ing so many resources to learn more about these sub­jects. It is real­ly help­ful to have if you want to get more in depth information

  4. Bitt says:

    I've been read­ing a lot about attach­ment styles late­ly. It can be a lit­tle reduc­tive, but if you take it with a grain of salt it can be a pow­er­ful way to learn more about your­self and how you func­tion in relationships.

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