Are Your Relationships Personal Enough?

Written by Jackie Walker

I wonder if you’re scratching your head or looking quizzically at that question. It might seem a bit of an oxymoron, after all if you’re in a relationship with someone then surely to heaven that’s personal, right? Wrong!

I only know that it must be wrong because I work in the field of relationships and it’s the very lack of trust and self belief that create the problems of being willing to be fully present in your own person. That’s what personal means doesn’t it?

personal_enoughYou might be very willing to let someone come up close and personal physically, don’t we all? I wonder, though, just what you keep hidden away, safe from prying eyes. What fear or shame is it that you wouldn’t want to share with your partner? What desire, dream or longing do you keep to yourself so that you don’t upset the boat?

Relationships are often seen as the last thing to reach out for help with. It seems that it’s okay to seek guidance or input on careers, weight, health, fitness, beauty, etc. but your relationships – they’re just not in the same ball park. I’ve often pondered the reason for this, and think that at last, I’ve come up with an answer.

A relationship is not just yours. A relationship is a container, if you like… a place for two people to put their relating. It isn’t a stand-alone; it doesn’t exist without more than one of you. Therefore to address relationship issues requires both of you to look at it together. If you feel that you’re not getting out of your relationship what you want, then you would have to voice this to your partner, and that can be a scary thought. What might happen if you did that? You might have an argument, or they might choose to leave and therefore it’s better to put up with what you’ve got than raise any concerns.

The time that most folk are prepared to look at the part they play in their relationships is when they’re between partners. Why is this?

1. They have time to focus on themselves

2. They want to avoid the same mistakes again

I counter, however, that all good relationships start at home, and I don’t mean the house on the street you live in. I mean the relationship you have with you. Until you have a good relationship with yourself, and are willing to embrace all your foibles and the things you don’t like about yourself, you will live and love in fear of being found out.

You might remember the words from the Bible about the man who builds his house on a rock (Luke Ch 6 v 48-49) :

“He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

All personal development work supports you in building your own roots and foundations so that should any flood (drama, stress, outside influence) occur, you will know for sure that as a person you are safe, strong and able to weather any storms.

In your relationships, it’s doubly important that you have your own roots, like a tree. You grow together with your partner as a team, side by side. Neither taking the other’s light, nor relying on them completely for your happiness.

Relationships are great sources of fulfillment and as human beings, relationships give us our basic human needs of connection, love, certainty and significance. They also provide us with the very things, both positive and negative, which will help us grow and evolve. I have worked with too many people who gave their power away to someone else to believe that all relationships have a healthy balance.

You can address your relationship skills on your own to improve any relationship you are in – be it with a partner, family member, or work colleague. When you realize that each person in your life is there for a purpose and to teach you something, you start to look at relationships slightly differently and with gratitude.

Is it time now for you to do that?

Some Amazing Comments


About the author

Jackie Walker

Jackie Walker is the Chief Navigator for Relation Ships, supporting you in the doldrums and rough waters of all your relationships.  Jackie has developed How to Navigate your Relationships e-programme. She is passionate about reducing conflict and misunderstanding in relationships so that you can relate as your whole happy self without fear or shame. She shares her wisdom on her blog


  • Hi Justin, yes giving is crucial and being able to receive is just as important. Receiving is different to taking or getting, and for many it needs just as much practice as giving unconditionally.

    I wonder if this will help you understand what makes folk feel uncomfortable in their own company – I like to expand the word ‘alone’ to ‘all one’ which gives it a depth and new perspective. Lonely on the other hand is what happens when you aren’t all one and many people are lonely even when they are with others.

    I’m so glad you brought these very important points up :)

  • Hi Jackie,
    I agree that we have to have a solid relationship with ourselves before we can have a solid relationship with another.

    Many people can’t even stand to be alone by themselves so it makes me wonder what it is that makes them feel this way. I believe that it is important to also be able to be comfortable with our own company.

    Many people seek out relationships just for this reason. To avoid being alone. In order to be happy in a relationship it is important to have the mindset of giving to another instead of getting or taking.

    Great post.

  • Hi Sue, thank you so much for sharing this. How wonderful that you were able to notice what was going on and have the flexibility and awareness to deal with it. So many people haven’t got the roots to be able to then address the relationship. True intimacy is commitment and freedom being the same!

  • Hi Jackie.

    I so enjoy reading about different perspectives on relationships and really enjoyed yours. I had a turning point a few years back. Both my husband and I had done quite a bit of personal work and we were both strong and independent (deep roots). And very committed to one another. However, we were lacking commitment to “our” relationship When both of us realized that we had a relationship with our relationship — wow, did our marriage grow deeply and intimately then. It was amazing.

    Thanks for the post.

  • “I wonder if you’re scratching your head or looking quizzically at that question. It might seem a bit of an oxymoron …”

    Actually no Jackie. I relate one 100%. I am actually happy that there is somebody else who understands. I have very few close friends and am very close to my family. I find it very hard to truely open with with people and let my guard down.I sort of maintain a distance with most people. Why? This is a very complex issue and a long story too. :) But I agree with you, if I can be honest with myself, really accept myself, wrinkles, warts and all, then I can truely appereciate my relationships. Great post. :)

  • Great post, Jackie!

    I love the line about all personal development work being about developing your own root system so that you can withstand any storm. I’ve always thought the best way to improve a relationship is to improve yourself.

    Even if the other person in that relationship “container” is horribly flawed and doing everything that can be done to sabotage the relationship, changing the way we react to that sabotaging behavior is the best thing we can do to improve things.

    Thank you for the article. And thank you, Steven, for introducing Jackie to me!

    • Hi Ken, it’s a delight to meet you too! Yes, the other ‘horribly flawed’ person is only there to mirror back to us the changes we need to make for ourselves. And then, if our changes don’t improve things, we have the next choice to make. It’s always up to us to make the changes to see the changes in our world.

  • Thanks for the post. I know what you mean. My wife and I this weekend were talking about what to do. We are sometimes very different people so it’s not easy to get involved in each others’ interests, but it has been something I would like to do more.

    My wife likes to make jewelery and watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I like to play Starcraft and read comics, self-development books, and work on furthering my career.

    It made me so happy this Saturday when my wife took along with her to work one of my favorite graphic novels. She actually liked it.

    Now what am I to do to make our relationship more personal? These tips are a great start.


    • Hi Bryce, thank you for joining the conversation … some of the best relationships are those where each individual has their own interests which gives both of them ‘me time’. It’s important to balance it with ‘we time’ and you’ll find that as long as you’re willing to support and encourage one another individually, you’ll make a stronger whole.

      • I don’t think you can have a successful relationship without some sort of me-time. It’s absolutely necessary to have time to unwind and just do what you do because you’re you.

        But there is nothing better you can do to make your partner happy than to get truly interested in something they love (especially if they know that you don’t.)

        And really, it’s certainly not enough for you to begrudgingly do it. You have to try to love it. Do your best to see it through your partners eyes. You never know, you might end up with one more thing in common.

  • Hi Jackie

    I wanted to officially welcome you to CYT Authors.

    I also wanted to thank you for a great article.

    I think summed relationships up beautifully when you say “each person in your life is there for a purpose and to teach you something”

    I believe that’s why my wife and I have such a great relationship, as we’re open, honest, and give each other the love and support we need, but also recognise that we still have a lot of growing to do with ourselves and each other.

    Thank you again Jackie, it was a pleasure reading your article and hopefully you can write for us again.

    • Hi Steven, thank you for such a warm welcome to CYT authors.

      It sounds to me that you and your wife have got it nailed … the willingness to give to one another, ask for what you need and be honest. The vulnerability of honesty is often what puts people off doing it. Congratulations.

      I look forward to writing my next one, I’ll get onto it after I finalise my book for final edit, it’s due in on Monday :)

  • I think Ms. Walker has it Right!(Are Your Relationships Personal Enough) You must have a strong Self-Foundation of love and understanding as to your own personality and an understanding of the person you are with in order to “build” a proper relationship. It must be based on “True-Self” and not the ego based needs. If the relationship is based on looking for the other to fulfil your needs then the foundation is indeed a weak one, coming from the fears of the ego.

    • Hi Richard, do please call me Jackie :) It’s a process, and one which we can only learn when with others, so there are inevitably some Mr/Mrs Right Now partners out there while we hone our skills of awareness, and learn about ourselves. It’s relating, but not as we knew it! And there’s no knowing how long Right Now will last, for some it can last years as they grow together, for others it might be a few short weeks.

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