Feeling alone in a relationship is one of the worst things that can happen to people. And it happens all the time. Every time one person gets mad at another person they cut themselves off from the other while they stay in their anger. But here’s the irony. What the angry partner really wants, what he or she is hardwired to achieve, is a connection with the other person. But the angry person is too upset to feel anything but their feelings of being wronged so they stay isolated and alone. What we really want in our relationships, any relationship is to connect. It is what humans do. It is how we are wired.
So if we are hardwired to be with others then why is it so hard? Why do couples fight and feel disconnected with each other? There is no simple answer to these questions because each of us comes with our own likes, dislikes, needs, desires, hopes and dreams. We are each unique. Even so there are some similarities among couples that crave closeness and find themselves always apart.
The most common similarity is that they want something richer than they are currently experiencing with the other person. They want to feel “loved”. Often this feeling is one that’s in the imagination. It includes unconditional acceptance and no bad feelings. This is a fairy tale, comprised of our deepest hopes and desires. We create these pictures of love from all the stories we heard as children, from the examples from our parents and from what we learn in school, on television and others. Even if we grew up in a family that was not something we want to repeat, we make decisions for ourselves about how we want to create the opposite.
All of us start out wanting the best. We want our dream of what love feels like. So no matter where you and your partner are in your relationship right now you can understand that he or she has beautiful desires about love, just like you. They will differ in some ways, but they come from a place of deep hope and desire that you, the partner, will be able to understand completely and deliver what is needed. This is also part of the fairy tale we tell ourselves. If she truly loved me she would know how to make me feel loved. When we understand that each partner comes into the relationship with similar hopes and desires it can be a powerful place to begin building closeness. It creates something sorely needed in stressed couples. It acknowledges that each person has a belief in love that is separate from the day to day difficulties.
It’s possible the problems in your relationship may involve money, parenting, control, jealousy or disrespect. These are some of the reasons couples seek counseling. What I like to help couples understand that apart from these issues, there is a strong desire and life force in each person that includes wanting to be held, loved and safe. This is our human drive and it exists even when we are at war.
When couples understand this concept it can be a powerful shifter in the relationship. It signals to each partner that they are in this together. Their ideas for love may be different, but they both have them, and they can unite in their quest to achieve them with their partner. The issues fade and the curiosity about how to achieve this begins. Partners want to find ways to make the other achieve his or her happiness, because they begin to understand that when the other is happy, they are too.
When individuals feel safe in a relationship they can also take risks with the other person. It is during those risks that the real discovery can occur. What makes you and your partner unique? You will find out. You may find a new way to belong to each other. You might begin to understand the longing from the person you love. You might feel drawn to help them feel whole. This is love expressed. And isn’t this what we are all really after, to feel loved, understood and whole.
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