Relationships: debunking the myth of finding ‘the one’
Have you ever wondered why you can’t get into a relationship, or why you can’t make relationships last? Are you waiting to find the right person, but never seem to meet them? Relationships can be challenging, especially when we all have busy lives and not much time to devote to them.
Maria works in a college and likes to party hard at the weekend. She occasionally hooks up with someone she likes and goes home with them after a heavy evening’s drinking. The next day she texts and her date replies a few times, but soon the texts dry up and she is left wondering why. Joe is in a long-term relationship but finds himself attracted to other people and has on occasion been unfaithful.
Don is tall and attractive and has no trouble finding partners. His relationships tend to last for a few months, he even got close to moving in with someone once, but at the last minute he changed his mind and ended the relationship abruptly.
Relationship patterns and expectations are rooted in our very early lives, they are deeply ingrained and we are often unaware of them. In the three examples above we can see broadly various difficulties that can occur in making relationships - Maria tries to make connections but is rejected, Joe struggles to maintain intimacy with the partner he has and Don rejects others when they start to get really close to him.
We all send out subtle messages to others through our words and our body language, most of the time we are not even aware of these. We may push other people away without realising or act in ways that undermine intimacy. It can be frustrating not knowing why our relationships are not working as we would like them to. By understanding more about our patterns we can start to change them. This can take time and commitment to working on oneself but this investment can result in enriched connections with others, as well as, and most importantly, a better relationship with oneself.
Psychotherapy can help us learn about the healthy and less healthy ways in which we relate to others by providing a therapeutic relationship where behaviour patterns and difficult feelings can be thought about in a confidential, non-judgmental environment. Because ultimately it’s not about finding the right person, it’s about being the right person. Which means becoming comfortable with yourself first and foremost and taking steps to increase your own happiness instead of waiting for someone else to do it for you.
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About Clea McEnery-West
Clea McEnery-West MPhil, FPC, BPC is a psychodynamic psychotherapist working in private practice in North-East London. She also trains counsellors and psychotherapists at Birkbeck College, University of London.