"Real Love makes sure that everyone feels a deep sense of emotional safety in a relationship of any type, something precious few know how to offer...if I take care of your emotional safety in a very conscious way, you will take care of mine; this is done through crystal clear agreements."
~ Steve Solomon
Steve is a former student of mine and had sent me this quote because it expresses a belief he has that was informed in part by his work in my program. I found this quote in my email just after I ended a counseling session with a couple for which these issues are crucial.
Steve suggests there is something we might call Real Love which implies there is a kind of love that is less than fully real. I might be inclined to say Deep Love or maybe Full Love, but the point is that what passes for love in some relationships is less than what is possible because it does not create “a deep sense of emotional safety.”
I have met with Pete and Sarah four times now. They hope to marry some day but they are currently living separately and the fact that Sarah has moved into a house that is owned by a former lover, a guy who often drops by to say hi, drives Pete nuts. That Pete calls Sarah multiple times an hour and drops by her work in retail has Sarah clamoring to establish some boundaries for herself. Neither feels safe and I ended the session suggesting I meet with each separately before we meet again together.
I am in total agreement with Steve that we create emotional safety through crystal clear agreements. But to assume that if I consciously care for the safety of another they will necessarily take care of my safety smacks to me of co-dependency. And any agreements we make, no matter how clear, will be things we will have to repair when we hurt each other.
Pete and Sarah have had plenty of hurt. They have each had many relationships in which they were not safe. They have a clear and conscious wish to create emotional safety for each other. And neither feels safe. They will only be safe to the degree to which they can each be responsible for their own safety.
Trusting the other to be responsible for my safety appeals to my hurt child parts. Those parts of me don’t know that I can care for myself and long for that care to come from another. It is only as I become expert at caring for myself that I become safe with others and they become safe with me.