Radical Acceptance

Radical Acceptance In Relationships

Radical Acceptance In Relationships

Radical Acceptance In Relationships

Let’s just start by reiterating that I am not in any way qualified in, well, anything. But more importantly, what I am discussing here. This post is a collection of what I’ve learnt in years of therapy, research and my own personal experiences of radical acceptance.

Radical acceptance is a coping mechanism. One that many people naturally have without even knowing it. And one that many people don’t have, without even knowing it. It’s an important skill throughout all aspects of your life, including your relationships. Think of every time you didn’t want to get up for work, but you peeled off the covers, hauled your ass out of bed and went anyway. Radical acceptance in relationships is about accepting a person as they are, without judgement. And accepting the situations that surround your relationship. You can’t make them enjoy a Sunday morning run when they prefer a lie in. You can’t make their new colleague any less of a goddess. And you can’t change the fact they got off with your friend, once, 10 years ago.

“The three things I can not change is the past, the truth and you.”

Anne Lamott

The point of radical acceptance is saying to yourself that this is how it is. This is the reality and there is nothing I can do about it. I can cry, shout, sulk or whinge. It is still going to be that way. Whilst radical acceptance in relationships can make your partner happier, that is not what it is about. It is about making YOU happier. It’s about letting go of pain, anger, frustration and resentment.

Radical acceptance is something I use almost on a daily basis. I radically accepted it when my dad didn’t acknowledge my birthday. I radically accepted it when the babysitter was ill. And I radically accepted I’d somehow managed to lose a tenner. But for the sake of this post, I’m going to cover a time I radically accepted things in my relationship and a time when I did not.

The Time He Kissed A Girl

A year into my current relationship my partner kissed another woman. He actually tried to have sex with her but she declined his advances. We were supposed to be completely monogamous. This was not okay with me. I shouted, cried, hit the walls and gave the poor girl a proper piece of my mind. I held on to that hurt and anger for a long time. I couldn’t accept that he had betrayed me when I hadn’t deserved it. That whilst I was at home planning our future, he had been prodding his tongue in someone else’s mouth.

He begged me to stay in the relationship and I did. But I did not forgive him or accept that he had done what he had. And in holding on to that hurt and anger, I was only prolonging my pain. Reliving the upset every time he went out without me, every time we argued and every time he went to work and she was there. I couldn’t face my hurt because I hadn’t accepted that it had happened. I was too distracted by the injustice of it all.

The Time He Was Late

I wanted to surprise him. I put on my best lingerie and prepared his favourite meal. I envisaged a night of love and laughter. He came home late and slightly drunk. I radically accepted that there was nothing I could do to change it, made a mental note to warn him next time I had a special evening planned, and still had my night of love and laughter.

‘Holding on to anger is like holding onto a hot coal with the intention of throwing it at someone.’

Practicing Radical Acceptance

So, it’s all very well me praising the joy that is radical acceptance. But, in practice, it is really not that simple. When you are faced with situations that infuriate you with the injustice, break you with the despair or just really, really piss you off, how can you say, ‘Oh well, never mind!’ It is, ultimately, a learned behaviour. It is something you can consciously work on until you don’t even know you are doing it anymore. Think back to the work reference. Some times are harder than others. And that really depends on you and how different things affect you.

You want your partner to be tidier? Acknowledge you want it, and accept that you can’t have it that way just because it is what you want. What you can do is let them know you would appreciate it if they made the bed tomorrow. And prepare to radically accept it when they don’t.

You want your partner to have noticed your new haircut? Acknowledge that is something you wanted, accept that it didn’t happen. Let them know how it made you feel and hope they will notice next time.

It isn’t about not changing things. You can change the things you need to change. And often it’s a case of having to. If you’re radically accepting your partner’s broken up with you, your life is about to change whether you like it or not. All you can do is accept and respect their decision and focus on self-care. Until you accept it, you will be in a pit of despair, hurt and denial. You HAVE to accept it to move past those emotions. Whilst the pain can’t be avoided, the suffering can. And ruminating over every tiny detail that led to your ultimate heartbreak, is only prolonging your suffering.

“What you deny or ignore, you delay. What you accept and face, you conquer.”

Robert Tew

Accepting You

It is not only about accepting your partner as they are and the situations surrounding your relationship. There is another part of radical acceptance that is equally important. Accepting yourself. Accepting that they love good food and you’re a crappy cook. Accepting that they desperately want to put their cock in your ass but you’d rather eat chalk. And accepting that they made a choice to be with you because they love you, just as you are.

I hope I was able to make some sense in what I have written. I know not everyone needs to learn radical acceptance, but I also know that some do. And I do believe it is a skill that has helped in transforming my life.

Next time you hear yourself thinking how unjust something is, how infuriatingly unacceptable it is, maybe just give it a try? Remind yourself that that is the reality of the past and the present. All you can change is the future. And whether you are going to spend that future in the distress of denial… or not.

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If you liked this post then check out my post on Borderline Personality Disorder and its effects on sex!

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  1. And there comes a time when any type of acceptance, “radical” or not cannot be the choice. Continued hurtful behavior should never be accepted. Move on without them.

    1. Author

      Absolutely! I think there are also times when you have to accept that a relationship is not right for you. And that can be very difficult. I don’t think radical acceptance is about accepting behaviours that make you unhappy. It’s about accepting that the person has behaved in that way. And if you are unhappy then you will have to do something to change it.
      Aurora x

  2. Initially from reading your bio I thought “Hey i might be able to relate a little to this person they have a low libido and I myself identify as asexual” I saw you had relationship tab and thought maybe I could get further insight into maybe relationships from someone who also has little to no interest in sex with people then further reading this blog I was able to identify further with you. And maybe im seeing to much into and you wont relate this as much as i think. I have only in my life had one relationship kissed on person and obviously slept with that one person. We had been friends for nearly 3 years before we began to date. Early in we discovered we have very different sex drives she wanted to engage in sexual acts nearly every day but I never had interest. We had now been dating for a few (I wanna say 5) months and presumably my lack of drive and interest was beginning to affect her so we discussed one of the discussions was being a non monogamous relationship. I immediately said no I loved her and I would have done anything but that was not something i would be able to deal with, so I suggestion a break up, she was the one to say no to that and said she could deal with it and we stayed together. We got her a sex toy (I think it had been her first she had recently turned 18 after we started dating I was 20 so we were practically kids) that aided in relieving her sexual needs. But then nearing the 8 month mark she confessed to kissing another man, at first I was understanding because i thought maybe he kissed her and resisted but as we continued to talk that day she told me she had been flirting with this man online for over a week and met him in person for the first time with full intention with sleeping with him. That devastated me I had never raised my voice to her in my life and in that moment I stood quiet and initially trying to hold my composure told her to leave my house she tried to apologize that made it worse and then boom I exploded and yelled her to leave. And she left of course but I was angry as hell punched my wall and had my fist go through it. 2 days later she called me and the relationship was off. I havent dated someone since mostly because I fear that the same thing will happen, 2 years now and in all honestly always hearing about people through social medias and even most blogs i stumble upon have these wild libidos that i just dont have only exacerbate my anxiety. I think myself as 100% monogamous person but ive just thought maybe I should accept a non-monogamous relationship at this point but i know i wouldnt be happy then either so i guess ill just be alone from now on. Idk ive never really talked about my thoughts before so sorry about my rant/story

    1. Author

      Thank you for sharing, it is helpful for me too to read others are having similar experiences to me. I also tried to accept polyamory as a way to be in a sexless relationship, but as soon as my partner started texting someone it just hurt too much. I think I was too afraid I’d lose him to someone that could give him what I couldn’t. I am in a sexless relationship now, so it is possible. But, if I’m honest I’m consumed with guilt over it and am just waiting for the day when he says it’s not enough. I wish I had an answer for you that would be helpful, but it’s something I’m really struggling with too. I just keep hoping I’ll wake up one day and my libido will be there lol
      Aurora x

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