To be in a fulfilling relationship with the right partner can be the most rewarding of human experiences. To share intimate moments, to love and be loved, to enjoy the whole range of emotions with that person, I suggest, is the fulfilment of human longing.
How is it then, that happy, fulfilling relationships, that survive the test of time are rare? indeed if we take the most recent of marriage statistics, we see that in at least one in three, in most Western cultures, do not survive the first 10 years. There are of course many reasons cited for this, ranging from the Political, Economic, etc, to the Psychological and Spiritual. However the major premise of this article is that, though some of the above reasons may be contributing factors to the breakdown of any relationship, if one does not have an emotionally satisfactory relationship with one’s self then any relationship with another is unlikely to be successful in a truly meaningful way.
So, how do we choose a partner for ourselves that will minimise the chances of us being unhappy and emotionally unwell? The first and most important step is to know ourselves and to ask ourselves” what do we really want, what do we really need ,and what are the possibilities of achieving this for ourselves?” It is important when you do this, to concentrate on what you want, not on what you don’t want. Be clear about what is important for you, then go for it. Remember, you are the most important person for you, and you deserve the best.
In my experience, both personally and as a Psychotherapist, I have found that people do know what they want, even though it may take a little time to get to it!. One of the major problems is, in learning to open your Heart ,and your very being, to other people. Many people believe they are either Worthless,Unimportant or that in some way they are undeserving of any happiness.
Certainly,a person self-esteem is crucial to a successful, meaningful relationship of any sort. If you do not believe that your loveable or likeable, what chance are you giving yourself, to find someone to disagree with you on this point, and even if you do, when you will allow yourself to lose the argument? perhaps what you might do instead is to compromise on what you want from a relationship, and put up with what you don’t want, which is, of course is much better than being totally rejected isn’t it?. This process is very common. People may torment themselves with such destructive belief systems as” I’m not important. I mustn’t be successful. I can’t be myself” Or even just” I shouldn’t be here”
Most of these messages will have come from their families and significant figures, and often even if they’re not unconsciously or consciously obeyed, the person may follow other destructive messages, such as feeling that they have to be Perfect, Please others, or just not be themselves to get their needs met.
This process will have been decided as a small child, and of course, at that time it may well have been an appropriate response. However, in Adulthood and away from the family system, these behaviours may well now be destructive to your well being. So, the solution is to kick out the old behaviour patterns -and really decide now what is important for you in the Present not in the past! -this may well be difficult for you, and I’m not suggesting it is easy. However, it will be well worthwhile and essential in the search for emotional happiness.
Other ways people stop themselves getting what they want in relationship, is to choose the very person who is the least compatible “how come”? I hear you saying, “Surely I would not be that naive” the truth is, as incomprehensible as it may seem, is that we do actually seek out unhappiness as well as a happiness,. Indeed, without being aware of it, from the initial outset of meeting a person that we love, we are often just as much attracted to their negative, as to their positive attributes. You see, each of us are driven by unconscious compulsions to repeat our family experiences, even though in some cases,we may honestly be trying to do the opposite. At least it is familiar, predictable, and therefore secure in some ways.
For example if, when you are a child, you made a fundamental decision- that you are not okay- because you felt unloved, and and appreciated ,you may believe that other people are better than you,- you are very likely, -as an Adult, to act out your Passive, and submissive roles within your relationships. We can see from this example, that people may well operate at a Psychological level, from positions which are inappropriate for them in their present situation,and which leads them to actually act out,the opposite of what they really want to do, allowing their Unconscious selves to triumph over their Conscious selves in seeking happiness with others. This course of action allows us to maintain our frame of reference and the way in which we view the world today.
In conclusion, the most important relationship you will ever make is the relationship with yourself. To be aware of your patterns, to take the risk to step outside them, and to be you, will be the most important steps of your life.There are no”Shoulds”or “Oughts” about how to be in any relationships, and to realise that in your life, it is you that is all important, that you are likeable and lovable, and special to yourself, is the essential truth. Indeed, once you take this on board and integrate it into yourself, the world will become your Oyster and you will realise, as will other people,, how lucky they are to have you in their lives.