“Why can’t I have a good relationship?” and “What am I doing wrong?” are two of the most common questions our friends and acquaintances may struggle with. We all want to love and be loved. We want companionship, warmth and pleasure. We want a partner to count on, to grow and build with. Yet, often too many people choose someone who offers them only short-term excitement and drama, with the long-term filled with pain, confusion, and uncertainty.
They start with an empty place inside that they try to fill with something from the outside, usually a person, although it can also be alcohol, drugs or work. They feel that there is a hole in the middle of their heart, which represents a bottomless pit of need. An emptiness that lacks meaning and is full of despair. Because of this empty place, they are people driven by fear and desperation to latch onto anything that provide a promise of making them complete and secure.
People end up making bad choices. They choose partners who are like the partners they had in the past who were unsatisfactory, or they play out old scenarios from their own childhood. They find men and women who are emotionally unavailable and try to work on making them love them to prove to themselves that they are indeed lovable. They choose partners who have major problems, like alcoholism, that they are not interested in resolving, but they are somehow convinced that the other person can fix for them self; simply by loving them enough. These people do not realize they are pushing away the very same people they want to be loved by. This includes a significant other or even siblings, relatives, friends.
“Why can’t I have a good relationship?” they ask, when they have not even learned how to have a good relationship with themselves. One of the biggest problems with relationships with other people is that they lack the self-esteem to love themselves and accept themselves for who they are. Without this self-love and self- acceptance, they look for a partner to affirm them and determine their worth through their love. They are unable to effectively set limits and boundaries and are unable to be authentic to be their real selves. They have developed a false self that has only tried to please others in order to be loved.
Many women, in particular, become involved in destructive relationships that may further damage their self-esteem and sense of themselves as being a worthwhile person in this world. We have become more aware of the social problems of battering in intimate relationships, including emotional, and physical abuse of partners; as we recently witnessed in the case of the physical abuse incurred by Taylor Amstrong from RHOBH, or in the past by Nicole Simpson which ultimately ended in her dead. It is important to recognize that spousal abuse has no boundaries and it occurs in all levels and economic strata of society. Unfortunately, it only comes to the attention of the public when the victim is a celebrity. The sad news is that spousal abuse is rampant. According to the National Coalition of Domestic violence: “One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year. 85% of domestic violence victims are women. Historically, females have been most often victimized by someone they knew. Females who are 20-24 years of age are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence. Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police. “
National Coalition Of Domestic Violence Facts:
Women, and men, without being aware of it, often choose partners who are like their parents, or like earlier partners, and will treat them in the same or similar ways. People become used to a certain kind of treatment and, if that is the way, they have always been treated, may not actually know how to expect anything better, or be able to imagine what a good relationship would look like and feel like.
Even in superficially good relationships, problems may exist that render them unsatisfying to one or both of the partners, or limit the ways in which the relationship and the individuals can grow. There are some common issues facing all those who enter new relationships, including dealing with anger, communicating needs, wants, and feelings, and dealing with the balance between autonomy and intimacy.
Anger is a means of expressing important feelings, but it is fearful to most people. It represents a danger, both to the individual and to the relationship. Learning how to express anger in a constructive rather than destructive way is of utmost importance and enables the channel between intimates to remain open and clear.
Most men and women have difficulty with intimacy at some level. There is no one group of people that knows how to practice intimacy properly at all times, nor is there an easily obtainable set of rules and guidelines that can be applied to all situations. However, certainly working on being authentic, learning to love ourselves for who we are without pretending in order to convince others that we are lovable; it certainly helps. In some instances, this may require some psychological work to explore the repetition compulsion that plays in your life.
~ Dr. Estella Sneider, PhD