What brings couples together – and drives them apart?

When people first meet there are certain things that can initially attract them to each other. Maybe one person seems self-assured, confidently able to talk to anyone, to mingle at social events. So the other person may think they are not a clingy person, their confidence can seem attractive. But these initial feelings can turn sour after a while. The behaviour of the gregarious person can begin to grate on the other. That confidence can now appear as loud and irritating, and instead of feeling happy they can mingle in social settings, it can now be experienced as being ignored, leaving the other feeling lonely.

So what is going on here?

When we first meet someone we often project our feelings and desires onto the other. Not only are we physically attracted to them,  but in our unconscious we perceive them as meeting our emotional needs too. That initial romantic love can distort our views, as we want to believe we have met the person of our dreams. We can end up seeing things through ‘rose coloured glasses’ – only seeing the good and positive traits of the other, not seeing or acknowledging their less attractive characteristics. 

Maybe we believe their characteristics are right for us. In the example quoted above, the gregarious nature of one initially seemed very attractive. This could be because of previous relationship experiences, perhaps a previous partner was timid and clingy, so the prospect of being with someone who is self-assured can seem a better choice.

There are times when we are attracted to someone because they remind us of the type of role model we unconsciously recognise. For example if our father was a quiet, shy and retiring person we may be drawn to that kind of person. The danger can be when our role model was abusive and we may be drawn to that kind of partner as it is all we know.

As the relationship develops, things can begin to irritate and cracks appear, each complaining the other is not the person they first met, that they have changed. Each longs for the situation to return to that idyllic romantic period, and one or both may question whether they should stay together.

Romantic, Hollywood-style love cannot last forever

As delightful as it feels, the all-consuming love, where our hearts beat faster every time we think of the other, where we want to be with each other every moment of the day and love seems to be so easy, and effortless, just isn’t sustainable in every-day life. What it does mean is that we have entered into the next stage of the relationship...


This can be triggered as a result of career changes, house moves, a new baby or something else. It doesn’t mean romance is dead, but it does mean the relationship has to be worked at. More effort has to be put in if that is what each wants. If people don’t understand this and don’t work at the relationship, it can form a pattern, moving from one relationship to another, searching for something that doesn’t exist.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Bordon, Hampshire, GU35
Written by Wendy Capewell, Specialist in Anxiety, Abuse,Trauma & Relationships
Bordon, Hampshire, GU35

Wendy Capewell is an experienced integrative counsellor who specialises in working with those struggling in their relationships, either with individuals or couples. She has her own successful private practice in Hampshire.

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