Every individual is diverse and complex and carries with them a unique set of baggage from their past that impacts and informs their close relationships. Given this complexity, one is often left to wonder, “Why do I keep choosing the same partner? Why, no matter how many new criteria I mentally create, do I keep winding up in a slightly varied version of the same, not-so-great relationship?” The answer for every person is to first look at ourselves. The experiences that make us who we are also influence who we look for in a partner. While most of us claim to be looking for true love, real compatibility and no drama, there are often unconscious influences — thoughts and behaviors leading us to just the opposite. One influential factor is that many of us seek partners who help us stay within our comfort zone, even if that zone turns out to not be all that desirable. People seek what is familiar. If our past were filled with feelings of rejection or inadequacy, we are likely to seek scenarios in which we feel the same way as adults. Often, we look for partners who reinforce existing views we have of ourselves. For example, if we had a parent who was not always emotionally available to us, or who was inconsistent in offering us warmth and affection, we may think of ourselves as unlovable on some level. When we look for a partner, we may be initially drawn to someone whose attention makes us feel good about ourselves. Eventually, we may start to notice that this person is resistant to getting close and can be disregarding. Even as we are tormented by feelings of rejection, we often fail to realize that the very reason we were so drawn to this person may be because we sensed that they support those all-to-familiar feelings of being inadequate and undeserving. Dr. Lisa Firestone http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-firestone/relationship-advice_b_824879.html
Humans have a knack
for choosing precisely
the things that are
worst for them.
J. K. Rowling
My wife and I were emotionally disconnected. Over the years I had become more and more reticent to tell my wife the truth about my heart. In part that was due to my own lack of awareness, and in part I didn’t want to deal with any upset it may cause. So, I told her what I thought she wanted to hear. This started out with small and gradually led to bigger things. I expected my wife to make me happy. I had believed that marriage was supposed to make me happy. I was very confused because I was not happy. And in fact, the more I tried to make my wife happy – the worse things got in our relationship and the more miserable we both were. I was like a blood-sucking leach trying to experience life through sucking it out of my wife. I thought (at the time) I was being virtuous – trying to make her happy. In reality I was very selfish as my motive was about me and not her. And she knew it. I had no boundaries. I grew up with three sisters and have always felt comfortable with women. I enjoyed connecting with women. I used to say that I was just being playful. … a mentor of mine told me that I was not being playful, but seductive. I was looking for affirmation and attention and had developed a skill to get it from women. I was bored. I was under-challenged in my job, my kids were not around, my wife was traveling for her job, and I was alone a lot. I had lots of “down” time with nothing to fill the void. I was (unconsciously) looking for something to fill the void. I believed that I would never cheat. I was the last person I thought would ever commit adultery. I knew what was right and wrong. I was strong and I could handle any and all temptation. I was Superman. NOT! My pride led me to believe that I could get close to kryptonite and not be destroyed. That was foolish. I was a fool. I was 100% responsible for my infidelity. It was my fault. These things did not “make me” do it. However, these were things that made me vulnerable to cheating on my wife. I am still weak – but now I know I am. And in light of that, I can make different choices and therefore guard against being vulnerable. http://affairrecovery.com/survivors/Jack/why-people-cheat
When would he realize
that it wasn’t his infidelity
I couldn’t bear,
but his cowardice?
From “Sarah’s Key”
by Tatiano de Rosnay
Loving too much can be problematic when it hurts the lover, which typically occurs in the long-term. The lover’s intense love might be excessive in the sense that it prevents her from realizing the true nature of their relationship. Lovers may also feel that they love too much when they believe that their beloveds do not love them to the same extent. When a lover feels that she gives more than she gets, she will feel that she loves her partner too much. People who love too much often keep investing in a relationship that has no chance of surviving as their beloved does not love them to the same extent. Loving too much may also hurt the beloved. A typical example of this is when the lover does not allow the beloved to enjoy sufficient private space. It should be noted that the wish to be with each other as much as possible is a main characteristic of love and not an external feature of it. The nature of the private space is determined by the given personalities and by other factors, such as the stage in which the relationship is currently. Thus, this wish may be more pronounced in the infatuation stage, when it makes little sense to accuse lovers of loving too much. Profound romantic love is not in its nature excessively wrong; but some cases of such love has a greater chance of being so. From “ Loving Too Much” by Aaron Ben-Zeév http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-the-name-love/200908/loving-too-much
To fall in love is
but to fall out of love
is simply awful.
Negative default positions are often relationship destroyers. No matter how much a more typical relationship partner loves and values another, he or she will not be able to survive continuous onslaughts of negative default positions. It is the classic “I can’t win for losing” conundrum. Anytime either partner comes from a core experience of a basic negative attitude towards the other, all disagreements will eventually be twisted into a one-sided criticism that defies reality. Those predetermined expressions of invalidation will doom the targeted partner to a life of defending his or her basic worth. Unless martyrdom is the goal, that person will eventually leave the relationship. If you can identify your own fixed, negative default positions, you can replace them with a far more successful set of skills that can turn frustrating, repetitive conflicts into positive resolutions. When you have mastered that new process, you can create a deeper intimacy through embracing each other’s differences and opening up to the possibilities of deeper intimacy. Taken from “Rediscovering Love” by Randi Gunther, Ph.D http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/rediscovering-love/201208/do-you-want-stay-in-love-then-examine-your-default-position-when-you-
You cannot reason people
out of a position that they
did not reason themselves into.
Every couple argues, and every argument affects their intimacy as well as the emotional distance between them. Some disagreements leave only minimal or temporary scars that fade with time. The couple’s love continues to deepen, seemingly undamaged. Unfortunately, escalating or stinging arguments can leave deep and lasting fissures that damage relationships. Many areas of conflict can determine the fate of a relationship, but the most crucial one is each partner’s underlying attitude is towards the other. Whether unconscious or intended, that core set of thoughts is often deeply embedded, pervasive, and negatively biased. As the argument heats up, one or both of the partners will fall back into this default position, dooming any hope of successful resolution. The longer people have been together, the more they are likely to repeat established patterns. These ritualistic interactions usually emerge slowly in intimate relationship but can explode early on if any differences are pronounced and passionate. Because they are often intertwined with positive aspects, they can often stay invisible too long, causing much greater problems down the line. When these internal, fixed attitudes are not identified and corrected, the partners in an intimate relationship do not realize how much power they have to affect their disputes. They do know that most of their arguments leave them drowning in whirlpools of confusion, often not remembering what they were arguing about, or why their resolutions didn’t hold. Taken from “Rediscovering Love” by Randi Gunther, Ph.D http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/rediscovering-love/201208/do-you-want-stay-in-love-then-examine-your-default-position-when-you-
Why do people always assume
that volume will succeed
when logic won’t?
A serial monogamist is a person who has many sexual partners in his or her lifetime, but only one at a time. He or she will seemingly form what looks like a lasting commitment to one person, but the commitment is usually only superficial. Some such people are incapable of commitment for a long period of time. The partnership can either be through marriage or a more casual relationship. Usually, the serial monogamist is aware of the pattern that he or she follows, and each relationship may be entered into with a how long will this one last? frame of mind. This does not mean that he or she does not try to commit, but it seems that commitment is not something the person feels comfortable with. Fear of commitment and perfectionism play a large part in the thinking of this type of person. Childhood influences typically also a play a large part, and bad role models may give them an inherent fear of commitment. They are unable to cope with the pressure of the family unit for long periods of time and eventually seek their independence once again. If the partnership begins to show problems similar to those witnessed in childhood, then it will no longer mirror the ideal the serial monogamist has in his or her head. Many people think that they can be the one to change the serial monogamist’s way of thinking, but this is sometimes a futile effort. http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-a-serial-monogamist.htm
We are the inheritors of a wonderful world,
a beautiful world, full of life and mystery,
goodness and pain. But likewise are we
the children of an indifferent universe.
We break our own hearts imposing
our moral order on what is,
by nature, a wide web of chaos.
Through focusing on solving issues and problems together, through honest and open communication, you can learn to achieve a balance. That is, you can work together to make sure both of you get your needs and wants met, and you can both care equally about your mutual satisfaction, health and happiness. Any other definition of love tends to degenerate into dysfunction and codependency, and will become toxic to you and your lover. Finding out if solutions are mutually satisfactory is easy– you ask each other how it feels and whether it’s working. Beginning your relationship with this idea in mind, or renewing an existing relationship on this basis, is much easier and more pleasant than you may believe. I invite you to consciously move your focus from who’s at fault to what will fix the problem, and to increase the mutuality and communication in your relationship, and watch whatever dysfunctional interaction you have, whether mild or severe, be significantly reduced. You can do this with relationships at home, with your parents, your children, your siblings, and even with friends and co-workers. Adapted from “Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Squabbling About the Three Things That Can Destroy Your Marriage” by Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. http://www.tinatessina.com/dysfunctional_relationship.html
What people need to accept is
that it is their responsibility
to communicate what they need
and what they feel, and to realize
that they cannot expect someone else
magically to make them happy.
Couples who can sit down together and discuss problems calmly, without blaming, criticizing and accusing, find that looking for a mutual solution to their problems increases their commitment, their intimacy and bonds them together. Nothing binds you in relationship more powerfully than the awareness that by working together, you can solve whatever problems arise. No relationship will be perfect; and how to successfully interact your lover cannot be worked out in advance. Yes, you can learn basic communication techniques, build your self-esteem, and develop patterns for healthy, equal, balanced loving before you get together — and all of these will make your relationship, when you do find it, much more successful. But, because you are unique, and so is your partner, what works for the two of you must be developed on-the-spot. The only way I know to do this is through experience, communication and negotiation. If you understand that your relationship, to be successful, must be healthy and satisfying for both you and your partner, you will also understand that codependently putting your partners feelings, needs and wants before your own is as harmful as compulsively putting your wants, needs and feelings before your lover’s. Adapted from “Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Squabbling About the Three Things That Can Destroy Your Marriage” by Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. http://www.tinatessina.com/dysfunctional_relationship.html
When you model your relationship on someone else’s,
your partner can never match up to the fantasy.
Honest communication is top priority for men. They want a woman who answers questions honestly, and perhaps even volunteers information. They want a woman who confidently asks for her wants and needs to be met. They want a woman who can see the truth and tell it like it is while communicating with kindness. Men want a woman who can communicate without being too critical, who cares about preserving his and her dignity. Women think men want them to be superficial, to keep quiet about their needs or wants, and never to ask for anything. Women think men believe them to be too needy and too sensitive, and that men simply want women to get over it. Some women believe they do not have the permission to tell it like it is, that they will be rejected for speaking up. Men want a woman to choose them out of want rather than out of desperation — either materially or emotionally. Men need to be wanted and needed by their partners, but they want their partners to have a separate identity. Men want a woman to be active and independent, to have her own friends and interests. On the other hand, men treasure time spent with a loving partner. Women think men don’t want women to need them. Women think men do not need or appreciate time spent together as a couple. Women believe that showing a man he is needed will turn him off and possibly make him run away. From “What Men Want in a Relationship” by Rinatta Paries http://powertochange.com/sex-love/menwant/
Those who take lightly
promises they make
to those they love
are people who find
little lasting satisfaction in life.
If you’re in a codependent relationship with a controlling or needy woman, you might find that the relationship is especially restrictive. Some common traits of these relationships include:
- You have to always let her know where you are
- When you’re out, you have to speak on the phone multiple times a day
- You are discouraged from keeping female friends
- She takes an active dislike of some of your friends and/or family, and feels offended that you would have them as part of your life
- She attempts to control your internet usage, or monitors your email and other online communications (Facebook, etc.)
- She shows excessive jealousy
- She has difficulty letting petty issues go, and instead insists that you both talk about them at length
- She mistrusts you and casts a suspicious eye, even if you’ve done nothing wrong
- She’s often critical of your behavior
- You find yourself often “walking on eggshells” around her
- Your friends tell you that you shouldn’t put up with her, but you feel the need to stay
- You can’t speak your mind because you’re too afraid of how she’ll react
- You’ve considered breaking up for a long time, but you don’t want to break her heart
- You feel that she may not be able to live without you, or you’ve tried to break up and she threatened drastic action (quitting her job, hurting herself, etc.)
Relationships should be places of comfort and acceptance, and they should be avenues to expanding your horizons, not restricting them. Relationships should add joy to one’s life, and though they often hit rough patches, a relationship shouldn’t be a constant burden. Codependent relationships can be so stressful and restrictive that the men involved often reach a boiling point, blowing-up at their partner. It’s like a release valve, and after the pressure dissipates a bit, they fall right back into the pattern. By Michael S. Freeman http://ezinearticles.com/?Men,-Are-You-in-a-Codependent-Relationship-With-a-Needy,-Controlling,-Or-Emotionally-Volatile-Woman?&id=2220700
Love doesn’t just sit there like a stone;
it has to be made – like bread,
remade all the time, made new.