We sometimes wonder why we get ourselves into difficult relationships that “turn out bad” when they seemed so “promising” at the beginning. Sometimes we notice ourselves continuing to “pick the wrong ones” over and over again and cannot figure out what is happening. Many times we attribute it to the other person and think that there are so many “wrong people out there” that we just better “stay away” or “put up with it.”
Modeling of our Family
Much as we might had to admit it, much of what we learn about life, and relationships, we learned from observing and interacting with our parents, siblings and relatives. Our parents are the greatest force in our lives because we spend so much time with them that we learn “automatic habits” that we “become comfortable with” in life. Though we might tell ourselves that we are never going to be anything like our parents, we frequently find ourselves doing the same because it is “familiar.”
These “familiar habits” have become automatic and we are a people who find comfort in that which is known and automatic. For young girls, it is not unusual for them to find themselves in relationships with men who are similar to their fathers because these are the men who were their “first practice people.” Further, if the fathers were alcoholic, abusive, controlling, yelling, etc., the young girl automatically gravitates towards similar types of personalities almost unconsciously.
Though parents may say “do as I say, not as I do,” it is not unusual for children to do exactly like their parents. For young boys, they also become like the men in their lives and relate to the women in their lives like their father related to their mothers. Whatever one has learned to expect from their families is what they will be doing for most of their adult life– even if they try hard to avoid doing it. It goes back to “I want a girl, like the girl, that married dear old Dad” and vise versa.
Our Dependency Needs
What we many times hate to admit is that we have many dependency needs. We want to be taken care of and feel that if we find the right one our lives will be complete and we will be safe. Sometimes there are people who have more dependency needs because their past needs were unmet and they are “hoping” that the new relationship will meet these needs.
You can usually tell these people by how fast they move into a “serious relationship” without taking the time to “think things through and really get to know the other person.” There is a desire to be safe and taken care of. Then they wonder what went wrong and why they are not really as taken care of and as comfortable as they had hoped.
It is more of a fear of facing the realities of life, the struggles, the problems, and the difficulties that must be faced by all of us in life. There is a hope that the other person will take care of them, protect them, and make everything wonderful and safe. When this does not happen they are confused, depressed, anxious, upset, angry, and lost. Mostly they are upset and lost because they have never learned to function for very long as an independent adult without having someone to rely on.
Our Expectations that “We can Change Them”
An unrealistic expectation that many people have, particularly women, is that they are going to be able to change the other person once they are “with them.” This unrealistic belief denies the concept of “what you see is what you get.” If one mate tries to change the other one, resistances are usually set up and more conflict arises.
Further, if one tries to change the other, the relationship becomes unequal. The one needing to be changed is no longer a “real adult” but just another “child who needs to be raised in the right way.” There is also the “ten percent intuitive rule” that is ignored. This rule states that if you see a problem now and think that it is just a small, 10 percent, one, be assured that it will be ten times worse once you are in the relationship.
Our Failure to “Notice” and our Tendency to Deny
Many times we hear couples talking about how the other person changed so much after the courtship. It is true that we do tend to put our best foots forward in the early courtship. This is why it is so critical to have an extended courtship in order to get to know the person over time. However, it is equally true that we tend to easily overlook, deny, or avoid paying attention to, the problems that are clearly evident from the beginning of the relationship only to later be “surprised” by them. Further, we will refuse to “listen to what others have to say” about the mate, or other person, believing that the information just cannot be true about the person you know!
Our “being in love” tends to “cloud” our awareness about the realities of the other person. The natural body opiates, Endorphins, are drugs that make us feel good and are excreted when we are in love. So “being on drugs” it is hard to understand, feel or experience the “real other person” because we “feel so good with them.” We are actually only feeling the “good Endorphin drugs.” We feel that we “cannot wait or “we will lose them” so we cling to whatever they want in hopes that they will change. We also tend to deny that other family factors may get in the way–their family, the “new step-kids”” (no matter how nice they are you are an outsider and competitor for Mom’s affection), their job, their friends, etc.
Our Need to “Pick the Familiar”
We tend to move toward what we expect and know. We pick those things that we are familiar with because they are known and comfortable. We like to pick “known challenges too”. Sometimes we pick difficult others ones in order to “resolve past problems” and feel that we can “change the past” only to find that nothing changes because we “picked the wrong, and same, problem person; just in a different body.
Our Lack of Self-Esteem
Many times we pick the wrong person because we don’t feel that we deserve anything better. We put ourselves down because this is how we were treated in the past. We come to believe that we are worthless, don’t deserve any better, and must put up with “better than nothing” because we have a low self-esteem. Sometimes we pick “bad ones” because we do not believe that anyone would want us because of who we are or what we’ve struggled through. At other times, picking bad ones gives us “something to do” and “allows us to feel better about ourselves” because “they are such a loser.” There is a lack of belief that “I am a good person and if you want to be with me you have to act good or just leave!” So we avoid being assertive and stating our needs, or stating the reality of decisions, etc.
Our Fears of Being Alone
A real problem is the one of a fear of being alone. Many times we will enter a relationship because we do not want to be alone and are fearful of being alone. We also have not had the experience of living life alone and learning how to survive alone for a significant period of time. Many people move quickly from one dependent relationship, the family, into another dependent relationship, the marriage because they do not want to tolerate struggles, aloneness, anxiety, and other emotions.
Many other fears and problems drive us to the wrong place. Sometimes it is that we find ourselves in the wrong relationship and just will not admit it, or are afraid to just leave it and go on. Whatever it is, it is time to “slow down” and “give yourself more time” rather than “jumping in” where “fool dread.”
Forgetting Good Love Means Saying No
We spend a lot of time thinking that we don’t want to hurt others. We try to please others and do whatever for them to not upset them. We forget to set limits and boundaries on what is appropriate behaviors. We talk too much. We forget to say NO! We forget that limits and expectations are important in all relationships. We forget to say “this just won’t work.” We want to avoid feeling sad and avoid grieving the losses. But we have to go through it or we are not being “good to others.” Remember, good love does mean saying NO!
What really happens is that we tend to rationalize, to think that “this” does not fit us or our situation. So we fail to slow down and take time to notice things or to give the relationship enough time to really develop. We “jump in” too fast again and again later wondering why things just don’t work out!! These are all good questions but we let our needs, feelings and impulses drive us. We also let the other person’s strength get in the way by letting them make all the decisions because we want it, and also want to avoid any conflict or upset. We have to be “the nice guy/gal” and so we give up our ability to think, view and evaluate the situation realistically.
These are all clear signs that we will “again” have problem with the relationship in the future. So take time, slow down, and give yourself, and the relationship, more time to talk, observe, interact, and get to know each other over time. Compulsive rushing is “the never ending journey to self-destruction and misery.” A wise person takes their time, because we have it and need to use it to our advantage.