Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What's Your Comfort Zone?

A few days ago I stumbled across an article about why so many of us keep ending up in the same relationships.  That these are unsatisfactory relationships goes without saying, or none of us would read the article.  People who are happy in relationships clearly stay in the same one, so they aren't looking again and again for that happiness. 

And yet the nugget I took from the article, written in the Huffington Post (note I am not quoting Cosmo here, says the intellectual snob) was that we all have our comfort zones in relationships, and it can apply to friendships and family dynamics, too.  The comfort zone isn't, unless one is highly evolved, a happy kingdom, but it does feel normal.  The author, Lisa Firestone, suggests that even when we do find a partner who takes us to a good place, we find ways to put them back in our comfort zone box. 

My comfort zone is lonely.  There isn't a good reason for it, since I am an extrovert and once I am among other human beings I am quite happy.  But in my daily life, I get in my own way and seek out relationships with people who are busy, high achievers.  With friends, this is fine, as occasional lunches and emails and Facebook posts are interesting and I am happy with the level of interaction.  But in romantic relationships, it means I spend a lot of time alone. 

Back when I was married, I went to see my first therapist. When I was in the middle of a recollection of a recent issue, she asked me: "Is this an old feeling, or a new feeling?"

I grew up as an only child of list-makers, and there wasn't a lot of time for sitting around contemplating life of the social structure in seventh grade. My parents were busy with important things, so there was a lot of time for me to fill, and I got used to feeling like I was in the way.  So now when someone I am involved with says they are busy or have a lot going on, I immediately decide I must be in the way.  To say this is visceral is a vast understatement, but it seems to lead me to sitting alone with a book on Saturday night. Usually it involves me being as patient and kind and understanding as I can, then being pissed because I don't get a gold star. Inevitably it seems to mean I am dozing off on the couch beside the dog when I should snuggling up beside a significant other.

There are people I know whose comfort zone is chaos.  Others tend toward overwhelmed.  There are those who are angry with the world and just about everyone in it.  And there is no end of those who are perpetually wronged.    

When I am working, I find my friend Janneke's rule, once you figure out the what, the how is easy, is so very true.  In my personal relationships, I know what I am doing and why. I just can't figure out why it keeps coming up in ultimately the same way with people who seem vastly different.  And yet when I step back, I also know I am projecting all of these feelings and whatever is going on probably has not a thing to do with me, yet that is exactly where my own work needs to be done. 

1 comment:

  1. Heather from Ottawa writes:
    Is lonely your default zone or your comfort zone? I would understand comfort zone as the place you feel most happy and at ease. For example, my comfort zone is balance - when intellectual, social, physical, and spiritual aspects are in some sort of equilibrium.