Relationships: can't live with them, can't live without them
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Teresa Mulvena, CBT Cert, MA Counselling, MBACP (senior accredited)
11th February, 2009
Why are relationships so difficult? Everyone wants the same thing: to love and be loved. It is only when we get into a relationship that we really face ourselves. Being in an intimate relationship can bring up insecurities and vulnerabilities that we weren't in touch with when single. The problem is that we are separate people and because of this misunderstandings are inevitable. Everyone wants to be known well enough that the other person can read them and anticipate their needs, but this is impossible. Saying how you feel and asking for what you want seem like straight forward simple things but they often bring up difficult feelings.
Falling in love is an experience that is ultimately disillusioning as the reality of the other person's faults eventually becomes apparent. What do you do then? The choice seems to be to leave and start again or to work through the sense of disappointment. Both choices can be traumatic and leave you with a mix of feelings including guilt, relief, anxieties either about being on your own or being committed to one person. A therapist can help you make sense of how you feel and work out out what you want.
Tips for Improving your relationship
Feed the relationship It might be obvious but spending time together just talking is incredibly important. People very rarely speak on a level where it is possible for someone else to know what it is like to live in your skin, but if you can talk about yourself and how you feel you can achieve that level of intimacy. I statements Stating how you feel rather than blaming the other person is one of the most helpful things you can do. There is a huge difference between saying "Why aren't you ever home, your work is more important than me?" rather than "I feel lonely and I miss you when you're not here". If you can state how you feel without blaming the other person, they can really hear what you are saying without getting defensive back. Be careful not to hide blame and accusation behind "I feel". For instance "I feel that you are a lazy idiot" is not a feeling at all. A good guide is to remember if you can replace the word "feel" for "think" in that same sentence, it is not a feeling. Compare this with a real feeling statement: "I feel hurt". You can't say "I think hurt" so you can be sure this is a feeling not a thought.
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