Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: John Colverson MA, UKCP Jungian analyst, psychotherapist, clinical supervisor.
1st February, 2013
Relationships are an issue we are all concerned about to some degree, as usually we want to feel loved and feel special within an exclusive intimate relationship. Difficulties can arise because intimate relationships trigger needs and longings from way back when we were very small which we are generally unaware of.
Failures in the way those needs were met, torn loyalties resulting from broken families, abusive treatment in which boundaries were undermined, being made to feel like a sex object as a child, anxiety about a parent dying, feeling the love you needed was unavailable because a parent was depressed and/or addicted and therefore locked away within themselves – these are just some examples of early experiences which can distort our expectations and our ability to have fulfilling intimate relationships as an adult.
These early experiences are often buried away within us and we may believe they have remained in the past, but they continue to exert an influence from behind the scenes affecting our choice of relationship partner. Once in a relationship we can assign our partner a role within this hidden internal drama which has little or nothing to do with who this person actually is, or we may behave in such a way that evokes a response in our partner which fits into the expectations of this internal drama.
Overcoming such patterns involves recognising the emotional investment and defences which are maintaining these internal dramas. To break these patterns might involve expressing feelings which perhaps you repressed as a child because you feared how they might be received, and/or you feared they would leave you feeling too vulnerable, or perhaps you feared they would be too destructive. Exploring these feelings within the therapeutic relationship, and taking the risk of breaking self imposed taboos, can allow a shift in your ability to relate and get what you really need for yourself, while being able to relate to your partner on a deeper level.
Feeling heart-broken, betrayed, used, unwanted, can be truly traumatic. Equally being afraid of relationships because you fear they will undermine a need to remain in control can leave you feeling very isolated and alone inside. I encourage you to take the risk and enter therapy to resolve these problems. There is no quick fix, but ultimately you will end up having a firmer sense of yourself, with more self confidence, and a better relationship with yourself: this is the best foundation from which to look for a partner, or to re-evaluate your place in your current relationship.
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