Today I’d like to talk to you about the big topic of ambivalence and provide a book recommendation.
Defined loosely, ambivalence is the state of having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone. Everyone has had ambivalent feelings about someone at some point in their life. When you have strong feelings of ambivalence when it’s about someone who is as important as a future life partner or spouse, you need to pay close attention to them. Personally, I had many feelings of ambivalence, both before and during my marriage. I analyzed and re-analyzed these thoughts and feelings. It can be very hard to even admit sometimes that we feel ambivalent about a person we think we’re in love with. It can be extremely confusing, and you can find yourself very “stuck” emotionally. I know very well how that felt, and it was not a good feeling. It’s actually not supposed to feel good, as it’s not a good state of mind or feeling. Seeking clarity and true understanding is the only way to be. Working through and understanding the ambivalence is really the thing that you should be doing.
From personal experience, I was ambivalent for far too long. I’m an analytical type of person, and I was in this state for far too long, mainly because I thought that this was just the way most people felt, thought and dealt with their love relationships. It can be. Ambivalence is a fact of life with many relationships, but if endured for too long on a deep relationship, it can also be toxic and erode your ability to trust your own thinking and instincts. It’s important to recognize when you’re stuck and suffering, and begin to find your way through.
My recommendation after dealing with this state of mind for years, is that with any committed love relationship, you need to either be fully in it – in every way – or get out of it. Again, seeking health, peace and resolution on this painful state is key. The trick is to understand the actual importance of doing the work on this. Time flies by and you can find months and years going by in this state. If you’ve been in it for a long time, it becomes hard to see whether you are truly happy, and even what happiness is anymore, and what is important for you. You can even lose yourself. Living with negativity is very unhealthy emotionally. I know that that it’s difficult to change, especially from within a committed relationship, even ones that aren’t even good for us to begin with.
Ambivalence in relationships will be a topic I’ll be coming back eventually to in future posts, but I want to use this as a first introductory post, and provide a recommendation to the best book that I’ve found on the topic. The book is called Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay, by Mira Kirshenbaum. This is the book that made me see that I was truly stuck in ambivalence about my relationship, and helped me begin to understand how to determine whether it was good for me to stay in. I can’t say enough about how helpful this book can be in evaluating life and making decisions. When making decisions on about a relationship, some people say to make lists of the advantages and the disadvantages, and use those as a gauge. That approach will only get you so far. Amazon makes the first chapter available for free online in preview mode. It’s an excellent introduction to the topic of ambivalence and the book.
Wishing you clarity, happiness and understanding in your life and relationships.