Where do we learn how to be in relationships, or how to deal with issues that arise as the relationship continues to develop?
In your current relationship, what do you think is your biggest struggle?
Mistake No. 1: You have yet to deal with your own previous negative relationship patterns
You’ve always known you’re a bit of a jealous person and need extensive validation and security to feel loved by your partner. You are aware of your strong need to control others’ behaviours so that they cannot hurt you. Perhaps, this learned behaviour has taught you that if you can control what others say and do, nothing bad will ever happen and you will be safe and in control. You have learned that if you blame your partner for the problems that arise, it takes the focus off you, and you don’t need to change anything because you’re not the problem.
The advantage of being controlling to you is that you always get what you want. It gives you a sense of power and validation because you see how others change to make you happy. When you can control your environment and the people in it- does this mean everything will be perfect? The downside is, people who try to control everyone and everything, usually deal with a great deal of fear behind their decisions. Fear that if people knew who you really are, they would not love you, fear of abandonment, fear of feeling so insecure that you have no idea what people really think about you. This type of behaviour is a sign that you are working out of fear because it's an illusion that your relationships are great because they’re not.
The need to control others comes from you wanting to feel safe and to receive love. Although this type of behaviour is counterintuitive and creates numerous problems in relationships, the controlling person rarely sees it that way. They mainly see it as their responsibility to pull all the strings and manipulate situations into their benefit.
On the other hand, if you are dealing with someone like this, the most important thing to know is that this is not for you to fix. There’s nothing you can do to change someone’s internal feeling of insecurity and unworthiness. People who are like this, need to first realise where these negative patterns come from and then start picking them apart, one by one. These are learned behaviours, meaning they can be changed with awareness and willingness to see a different perspective. This doesn’t mean you can’t be a supportive person to your partner, but you have to know that the change comes from them, not you.
Mistake No. 2: You are afraid of being vulnerable
What does it mean to be vulnerable? Maybe it means to fully commit to being who you are in every given moment. Whenever you feel shameful about something, or feel like you’re not enough, these are chances for you to be vulnerable and show others what’s really going on with you.
For example, when we love someone, we open our hearts, our minds, our bodies, and our souls to another person.
Nothing leaves us more vulnerable to being hurt or experiencing loss when we love someone and that love is not reciprocated.
When we feel vulnerable and try to protect ourselves (not in control, scared of being ourselves) fear rises up like a fortress around the heart to protect it from these terrifying possibilities. The mind thinks that love hurts, but in reality, what hurts is not receiving love back from the person we love. Love in itself does not hurt. It’s impossible to grow up on this planet and not experience hurt in some form from the people close to us. It is however, a mistake to close your heart because you are afraid of rejection and hurt.
When you close your heart, although you might feel protected, you are inviting in emotions like anger, doubt, lack of trust, indifference and irritation into relationships. This is because being vulnerable and loving someone go hand in hand. When you avoid vulnerability, you pretend more, you become accustomed to not showing how you really feel or what you really mean. These emotions are a sign that you are trying to protect your own vision of yourself- who you think you should be instead of who you really are.
Mistake No. 3: You move too fast into relationships
Have you ever experienced dating someone for a short amount of time and during this time this person has already told you they love you and asked you to move in? On the surface, you feel flattered and loved, this is exactly how you pictured it would be. Someone is so enamoured with you that they need to move at the speed of light to make sure no one else steals you away. However, you wonder how this person thinks they know you, and want to spend the rest of their lives with you so soon.
Sometimes this happens and people end up spending the rest of their lives together. Most times, this type of behaviour is more about desperate expectations and codependency.
Learned to please others
For some of us it’s quite hard to know where others end and we begin. Meaning, when you meet another person, you quickly mould yourself to their interests and ideas and forget about your own. You become reliant on others for a sense of self so you quickly jump into things because it’s only with others you feel you really exist at all. Lacking a sense of self comes from a childhood where you were taught to be pleasing. It can also be a side effect of a traumatic childhood. Something like sexual abuse can leave you with a damaged sense of self.
The person pushing for things to go faster in relationships is usually doing this to placate their own self-worth by making sure others are happy. Their need to be liked overshadows their own happiness because it feels so familiar.
Codependency tendencies can also be about trying to fix others. The more issues someone else has the better because again, your self-worth increases when you can be the saviour who fixes everything. In order to prove to your object of affection that you’re "good for them", you will act in intense ways that again mean things go too fast.
Rigid attachment styles
Attachment theory states that in order to grow into adults with healthy relationships, we need to have a reliable connection, or ‘attachment’, with a caregiver as a child. If this doesn’t happen – if our caregiver is not able to provide consistent love and safety – as adults, we tend to end up with problematic ways of relating to others. When trying to create relationships with others, you become so worried about rejection and abandonment that the only way for you to develop something is to move in quickly. That way, in your mind, there is no time for the other person to see who you really are because if they did, they wouldn’t stay.
Did you have a seemingly stable, ‘happy’ childhood home, but still find you rush into unhealthy relationships? It might be that love was not something that was provided to you without strings attached to it.
Instead of the message that you were loveable no matter your mood or opinions, you were likely taught you must be ‘good’, ‘quiet’, ‘responsible’, or whatever else your family decided was tolerable. The end result is a core belief that you must win love instead of just deserving love for who you are.
As an adult you might then find you are so focused on being what others want, the people you date quickly suck you into their wants and needs before you even recognise what’s happened.
To the person going into any type of relationship:
Find out who you are first. What traumas do you need to heal from before meeting someone? What negative patterns need to be changed? Can you be 100% honest with yourself in terms of what your issues are? What do you want out of a relationship? How do you communicate emotions such as anger, distrust or fear or love?
If you can figure these things out, you are on your way to creating great relationships with the people around you, specifically your beloved partner.
Let me know what you think about this topic: Where do you recognise yourself or your partner?