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
I understand addiction now. I never did before, you know. How could a man (or a woman) do something so self-destructive, knowing that they’re hurting not only themselves, but the people they love? It seemed that it would be so incredibly easy for them to just not take that next drink. Just stop. It’s so simple, really. But as so often happens with me, my arrogance kept me from seeing the truth of the matter. I see it now though. Every day, I tell myself it will be the last. Every night, as I’m falling asleep in his bed, I tell myself that tomorrow I’ll book a flight to Paris, or Hawaii, or maybe New York. It doesn’t matter where I go, as long as it’s not here. I need to get away… away from him—before this goes even one step further. And then he touches me again, and my convictions disappear like smoke in the wind. This cannot end well. That’s the crux of the matter… I’ve been down this road before—you know I have—and there’s only heartache at the end. If I stay here with him, I will become restless and angry. It’s happening already, and I cannot stop it. I’m becoming bitter and terribly resentful. Before long, I will be intolerable, and eventually, he’ll leave me. But if I do what I have to do, what my very nature compels me to do, and move on, the end is no better. One way or another, he’ll be gone. Tomorrow I will leave. Tomorrow I will stop delaying the inevitable. Tomorrow I will quit lying to myself, and to him. Tomorrow. What about today, you ask? Today it’s already too late. He’ll be home soon, and I have dinner on the stove, and wine chilling in the fridge. And he will smile at me when he comes through the door, and I will pretend like this fragile, dangerous thing we have created between us can last forever. Just one last time. Just one last fix. That’s all I need. And that is why I now understand addiction. From “Strawberries for Dessert” by Marie Sexton
Here I am trying to live,
or rather, I am trying
to teach the death
within me how to live.
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.
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.
It is always striking when a bright, attractive and otherwise accomplished person cannot maintain an intimate relationship. Most of the time the person appears in my office as the bewildered half of a distressed couple. Their spouse’s/partner’s complaints are legion: the offending partner doesn’t listen, they’re in their own world, they have little or no interest in sex, they prefer to be alone, they are unable to intuit or understand emotion. The spouse complains that the marriage consists of two people sharing the same living space, splitting chores. The person’s childhood usually provides clues to the problem. Sometimes, people tell terrible stories of abuse and neglect: in these cases one can easily understand why intimacy is avoided. But other times people depict a non-eventful childhood, devoid of conflict or even moments of common unhappiness. When pressed they remember few specific details positive or negative–and this is the rub. When their full story is revealed, it becomes clear the person dulled the abrasive experience of day-to-day family life by paying little attention. In doing so, they successfully pushed people away and retreated to the safety of their own inner world and preoccupations. This unconscious strategy reduced conflict and guaranteed their emotional survival. From “Why Can’t Some People Maintain Intimate Relationships?” by Richard A. Grossman, Ph.D. http://www.voicelessness.com/intimacy.html
It is not a lack of love,
but a lack of friendship
that makes unhappy marriages.
The degree of dysfunction, codependency or toxicity in relationships can vary. Most of us get a little dependent, and therefore dysfunctional, from time to time — especially when we’re tired, stressed, or otherwise overloaded. What makes the difference between this normal, occasional human frailty and true clinical dysfunction is our ability to recognize, confront and correct dysfunction when it happens in our relationships. The question to keep in mind is: what is not working, and how can we make it work? Most people, when faced with a relationship problem or disagreement, reflexively begin to look for a villain; that is, they want to know who’s at fault. Responding to a problem by looking for someone to blame (even if it’s yourself) is a dysfunctional response. The functional question is not, “Whose fault is it?” but “What can we do to solve the problem?” When you try it, you’ll see that refusing to focus on blaming anyone (yourself or your partner), and instead insisting on solving the problem, will make a huge difference in all your relationships. Families who sit down together, in a family meeting, where everyone, including small children, gets to discuss the problem from their point of view, and everyone works together to solve the problem, become functional rapidly. 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
Man is the only creature
whose emotions are entangled
with his memory.
Dysfunctional Relationships are relationships that do not perform their appropriate function; that is, they do not emotionally support the participants, foster communication among them, appropriately challenge them, or prepare or fortify them for life in the larger world. Codependency means that one or both people in a relationship are making the relationship more important than they are to themselves. A classic codependent is hopelessly entangled with a partner who is out of control through alcoholism, addiction or violent behavior; but the term has been more recently used to mean anyone who feel dependent, helpless and out of control in a relationship; or unable to leave an unsatisfying or abusive one. Toxic Family Systems are relationships (beginning with childhood families, and carried into adulthood) that are mentally, emotionally or physically harmful to some or all of the participants. Codependent relationships can also be toxic relationships, although the term “toxic” is usually used to mean the more abusive varieties. In short, all three of these terms refer to relationships that contain unhealthy interaction, and do not effectively enhance the lives of the people involved. People in these relationships are not taking responsibility for making their own lives or the relationship work. 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
We are all prompted by the same motives,
all deceived by the same fallacies,
all animated by hope, obstructed by danger,
entangled by desire, and seduced by pleasure.
Men want no manipulation of any kind. They do not want to read their partner’s mind or try to interpret signals. They do not want to be forced to move faster in a relationship than they are ready. They do not want to be manipulated into taking all the blame for things gone wrong. They do not want to be on the receiving end of game playing. Women think men want little or no communication, and the only way to get needs met is through manipulation. Women think men either need or want to be reminded that the relationship needs to move forward. Women think men don’t want or value praise and acknowledgment, and so tend to only verbalize criticism. Men want a partner who can laugh at herself and who has courage and strength. They want a woman who can see her part in relationship dynamics and own it. She has to be emotionally stable. Men want a woman who is developing herself personally, and who takes responsibility for her emotional experience. Women think men only want to have a good time. Women think men have no interest in developing and growing a relationship or developing and growing themselves. Women think men want women who are super models, and that they never consider whether a woman is emotionally mature, kind, supportive, or loving. From “What Men Want in a Relationship” by Rinatta Paries http://powertochange.com/sex-love/menwant/
A man is given the choice
between loving women
and understanding them.
Ninon de Lenclos
For whatever reason, some people choose to stay in relationships that are no good for them. In many cases, even those who do end an unhealthy partnership have extreme difficulty letting go. They struggle to move past where they once were and have trouble starting over. There is an overwhelming fear of never having anything better than what you had with your partner. The feeling stems from a low self-image… In many instances, people whose self-worth are low have long listened to her partner explain that she(he) could never have anything better than what she(he) has now, or that no one else will ever want her(him) like he(she) does. If she(he) doesn’t feel that she(he) deserves better, letting go of even a bad relationship can be impossible. Fear doesn’t need to mean that you are afraid of someone or something physically. It can mean that you are afraid of what lies ahead for you. You cling to the bad relationship that you have because it’s what is comfortable to you; even though it hurts you emotionally or physically. Fear will not only keep you from letting go of a relationship, but it will also hinder your ability to let you see yourself as a wonderful and beautiful person. As scary as it sounds, in order for you to let go of a bad relationship, you must look to the future. Envision a life for yourself without the person who made your relationship bad. Find your own true self and independence away from your past hurts. Discover things to do on your own that won’t remind you of the bad relationship; by gaining your own independence, the past relationship doesn’t feed on your new life without the other person. Facing the future can feel impossible if you’re leaving a bad relationship, but staying in a relationship where you aren’t valued, loved or appreciated is far worse than an unknown future. Taken from on-line article by Nichole Smith http://www.life123.com/relationships/issues/breaking-up-moving-on/letting-go-of-a-bad-relationship.shtml
Moving on is easy.
It’s staying moved on
Katerina Stoykova Klemer