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Saturday, January 28, 2023

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Coach Paradise: Open Road vs. Home and Hearth

Dear Coach Paradise,
I have been with my partner (girlfriend) for the past five years. We have broken up once and gotten back together over that time. I am 40 and a successful global businessman who travels a lot and is passionate about what I do. I enjoy my life, even though I am often apart from my girlfriend. She is 35 and would like to settle down and start a family and buy a house — with me. She says that if I won’t make that commitment, it is time for her to move on.
I am torn. If I let her go, I wonder if I will ever find anyone who loves me as much as she does. I wonder if what she says is true — that I am afraid to open up and be loved, and my lifestyle is designed to protect me from true connection. She warns me that I may end up old and alone. To be honest, I feel that she is more devoted to me than I am to her, and feel guilt that I may have led her along. I care about her and hate seeing her in pain, but don’t really feel that “settling” is really the right thing to do. I am hoping that you can help me to figure this out.
Torn and confused
Dear T & C,
Doing the right thing in any situation means acting with integrity. This means your actions reflect what truly matters to you. Integrity as I use it means you are “whole and complete." If freedom and flexibility and a passion for creating your global business are what makes you tick, then this needs to be a major ingredient of your life’s recipe. If love and connection and family are important to you, these ingredients need to be combined to create a juicy life.
Some ingredients don’t mix — the traditional oil and water, acid curdling milk — to stretch the food metaphor for a moment. To be free and flexible and often in motion around the world would preclude living as a married man with kids and a wife in one location — for now, anyway. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have relationships, only that those relationships will have to fit into your overall vision of what your life is about and what makes you happy. Being clear about who you are and what you want will help you to communicate this to your friends and partners and avoid mixed messages and misunderstandings — i.e. the guilt at wondering if you have “led her on."
Some people might say this is a “guy thing” and that you are commitment-challenged, afraid of intimacy, a “runner." If you accept this diagnosis, you have some stuff to work on, to “fix." If you are able to “look, see and tell the truth” and determine that freedom, flexibility and a life of adventure are what make you tick, you can live in integrity by creating a life that reflects what matters. If you determine that you are running away from intimacy and creating close relationships and they really matter to you, you can begin to move in that direction and explore areas that bring you joy and allow you to be true to yourself.
I would suggest that you write an “ideal scene” for your life. This is a playful exercise in flexing your imagination. Take 10 or 15 minutes a day over the next week to focus on areas of your life (environment, livelihood, health and well-being, relationship, spirituality, finances, creativity) and create a picture of how you would ideally like things to be. Focus on the area of relationship, as this is what is murky for you. Picture relationships in your life that feel good, make you happy and that allow you to be yourself. Describe who, what, where.
Let loose here — really get into imagining how good things can be, and what that would look and feel like. Write this in the first person and in the present tense. For example: “I am so excited about seeing my new friends as I travel for fun and business. I am looking forward to dancing the salsa in Mexico and going on safari. I am lucky to have relationships with people who also love adventure, freedom and flexibility.” Plug into the feelings that are attached to the scene as if it is already happening. This is a work in progress (as is your life), and you can play with it and amp it up as you get clearer about living a life that reflects who you are and what brings you joy.
As you are doing this, you may encounter resistance. This is good. Notice where you may have limiting beliefs about your ability to have, be and do all you want. This is where getting a coach can really help you to clear your path, turn obstacles into opportunities, stay on track and — by being true to yourself — be true to others.
Editor's note: Coach Paradise (AKA Anne Nayer), Professional Life Coach, is a member of the International Coaching Federation, an MSW clinical social worker-psychotherapist and a medical case manager with 30 years experience working with people of all shapes, sizes and challenges.
For further information about her services, call 774-4355 or email her.

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