In the previous article I discussed how choosing a long term partner may be compelled by inner forces unknown to us. We are complex creatures and are often not clear about what drives or motivates us. When you enter into a relationship that begins to take a serious path ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I feeling needy? Do you feel as though, without this person in your life, you would become mentally, physically and emotionally impoverished? If so, think about why? Is he appealing to the part of you that never had enough nurturing, that could never please your parent(s) causing you to want even more from him/her? You might end up feeling smothered or smothering your partner.
- Am I always trying to make him/her happy at any cost? Are you trying too hard to be “liked” and not being yourself? Is he/she appealing to the part of you that never felt appreciated for who you are? If you are doing all the work in the relationship ask yourself why?
- Am I trying to change him/her? Is there something about this partner that you do not like or doesn’t fit for you? Do you feel that if you showed him/her more love he/she would be different? Not accepting a person for who they are and trying to change them so that they fit your own idea of who they “should” be could be catastrophic later.
- Am I feeling needed, controlled or loved? Does he/she cherish or consume you? Are you interpreting his/her need to always be with you, know where you are or even determine who you spend time with a sign of how much you are loved? Perhaps growing up you were given a very “short leash” and that feels comforting. Or your family might not have shown enough interest in what you did or who you spent time with and your partner’s over-interest seems to fill an old need.
- Am I being myself, or am I really acting? Are your friends saying you are different when you are with him/her? Do you disregard your feelings for the sake of staying together? This indicates that you feel you can’t trust this person to be yourself with him/her. You may have played the chameleon early in your life to avoid conflict in your family and feel accepted. This denial of self, not showing the real you but pretending to be another person, can cause you great pain later.
- Am I overlooking obvious negatives? Are you just looking for the positive aspects in the relationship and disregarding clear negatives? Are there bad habits, prejudices or behavior quirks you are denying exist? When a person is desperate to be in a relationship he/she might brush off otherwise offensive characteristics of the other. Are you really desperate?
- Am I too in love to see clearly? Love is blind! That cliché exists for a reason…it’s true. In a Newsletter I wrote last year called “Love and the Brain,” I explained how the brain’s chemistry changes when people fall in love. The early stage of this phenomenon is not the best time to make long term decisions. Wait for the dust to settle and you are thinking more clearly.
Building a lasting relationship is both an art and a science. Obviously people have to “feel” right together. Stepping back and evaluating what is really driving you can prove to be a very valuable exercise.
Dr. Stan Hyman has been helping individuals, couples and business partners create solutions and find new ways to develop great relationships. He has been a practicing therapist and relationship coach for over 20 years. He has written numerous articles including, Rebuilding Trust, Recovering from Affairs, What Every Couple Should Learn and many more see my website and Newsletters:
He is available via Skype, webcam, telephone and in person and coaches individuals and couples both in the U.S. and internationally.