Why do so many individuals wait for that special soulmate, to be everything they wanted, and how does this fantasy blind them, creating bitter disillusionment and heartache? How is real intimacy achieved?
Why relationships end badly?
Many are on the conquest to find their perfect soulmate, who can meet all their needs, to be their rock or give them unconditional love. Yet they become disappointed when the person they pined after does not meet these needs. After the honeymoon shine is over, the real relationship emerges, as partners give up trying to impress each other; while they begin to see each other’s flaws and limitations. The limits of reality and life take over relationships so that special partner cannot be totally available to meet all their needs, causing a painful disappointment. The hopeful fantasy of finding this perfect soulmate can actually blind them, creating despair, from the disillusionment about what to expect from relationships.
The search for love can lead many vulnerable individuals to put lots of effort and hard work in pleasing their spouse, to recreate that magical feeling at the beginning. Many will sacrifice their self, move countries and devote themselves entirely to their partner, hoping the love will be reciprocated in return. Yet they become hurt, feel betrayed or angry when their partner does not return the hard work and efforts that they put in the relationship. By giving one’s self up or losing everything for the sake of the relationship, leaves them empty, alone, and depleted, where bitter resentment takes over. All of a sudden their desired partner says they are nagging or attacking them, and so they drift away further, not understanding all the self-sacrifices and losses that one has faced for the disillusioned fantasy of finding unconditional love.
As a counselor for relationship difficulties, I find that many of these patients feel that what seemed a magical dream romance actually ends up becoming one’s worst nightmare. If you change your life to suit your relationship, compromising or sacrificing oneself; then this can destroy relationships or cause the relationship to end badly. Finding a partner to make you happy can destroy one’s sense of self and diminish one’s self-esteem if you put all your happiness into the relationship and neglect to focus on yourself.
Healthy Relationships start with a Healthy Sense of Self
A healthy relationship begins with a healthy sense of self. By attending to our own needs, motivations, desires, and aspirations, allows us to feel whole and happy inside. We then have more capacity and inner resources to fulfill our own self-esteem, so we do not become dependent on a relationship to fulfill our own happiness. Looking for happiness in others, causes many to feel anxious, depressed and alone. Relying on others to make us feel good about ourselves is unrealistic, it escapes one from facing painful feelings inside, by looking for others to take it away.
Relationship counseling offers individuals the opportunity to work on their self or relationship. Seeing a psychotherapist or relationship specialist can resolve these relationship patterns so they do not become repeated and continually acted out. Many spouses will project their past hurts or unmet needs onto their partner, hoping that their quest for love will be finally met, but sadly this revives their pain and distress, leading relationships to breakdown. Many enter therapy when they reached the depths of their despair, to avoid these hurts, and actually end up reliving all the anxiety and depression that they attempted to avoid.
Many partners who attend therapy avoid expressing themselves with their own thoughts, feelings or ideas, as a fear of couple’s conflict. So they forego their own individual identity or aspects of themselves to meet the expectations of their spouse. Giving up one’s own individual thoughts and feelings, for the sake of preserving a marriage, can actually end up working against themselves and the couple bond. When couples feel that something is missing, that they are not living their own life, they begin to find flaws in their relationship, as the cause of their unhappiness, not seeing how they participated in re-creating these couple’s dynamics, by giving themselves up, that causes them to drift apart. Rather than communicating one’s thoughts or feelings to resolve relational issues, couples usually end up acting out their unmet needs or anger by having marital affairs, addictions, showing anger outburst and rage when they become explosive at seemingly irreverent things. All of sudden their spouse sees them as the abusive partner or the drunk who does not care how they treat them. Whatever does not get expressed becomes acted out aggressively towards one’s spouse, further pushing them away, rather than allowing themselves to be heard or understood for how they feel.
Healthy relationships create real love, by expressing their self.
To foster a healthy relationship, partners must firstly register themselves, how they are feeling, and raise important topics, before issues get out of hand. In order to dismantle destructive relational patterns that cause couples to become stuck, couples can get in touch with themselves by expressing their feelings, fears, thoughts, and needs. It is important to share how one feels, in a calm, modulated way, rather than in the heat of the moment. So underlying feelings get expressed, to invite a closer connection, rather than anger being vented. They can begin to feel a closer connection, as they share aspects of themselves and foster deeper intimacy between them, in a real way. As partners let go of bitter resentment, they have more capacity to respond to each other’s emotional needs. When partners receive an attuned response with understanding, they can move past relational ruptures and restore the couple bond.