If you recognise any of the following patterns in your relationship, it’s important to do something about them. These are relationship ‘bombs’, which can do serious damage if they’re not defused. By naming and knowing them, and bringing them out into the light and fresh air they can be made safe. If they stay buried, they will just end up making a very bad smell. But with the right combination of light and air, like compost, they can be slowly converted from something messy and unpleasant into something that feeds your relationship.
Psychological problems: Narcissism, Borderline Personality Disorder and other types of mental ill health are not as rare as you might think. These conditions can cause serious emotional pain and damage; learn about them and look out for look out for the warning signs in yourself or in your partner, so that appropriate help can be sought out before they sabotage the relationship or the people in it.
Projections: If either of you is idealising or demonising the other, or using them to try to ‘fix’ your own painful memories from the past, e.g. the relationship you had with your parents, you are on a path to disappointment. A loving partner can reassure us about how much they value us and help us to learn to accept and appreciate ourselves, but no-one can fill another person’s inner ‘love deficit’ or the lack of self-valuing that can come from painful early family experiences; ultimately each of us has to do that for ourselves.
Envy/insecurity: If you are secretly envious of your partner’s status, wealth, skills etc., this might feel like ‘attraction’ but in fact, it will undermine you and your lover. If there’s to be any chance of the relationship working well, this feeling is a signal to you to change your life to be more like the one you want, and/or to get some counselling on this.
Hidden power struggles: These usually involve passive-aggressive behaviours which aim, in an unacknowledged way, to hurt or undermine the other person. The only antidote is to admit to these feelings to yourself and to your partner. We all have them to some extent, so they’re nothing to feel ashamed of, and from this place of self-acceptance and communication, you can begin to heal and move forward together.
Wishful thinking: ‘Hoping for the best’ from your partner, in spite of your instincts, others’ advice and the evidence —but not being willing to take responsibility for making changes, including possibly ending the relationship, will surely end in tears. Hoping for a different outcome while doing the same thing is what Einstein defined as ‘insanity’. And he should know! Procrastination is always tempting, but life’s too short and precious to waste in blind alleys
Need for validation: We can only accept and appreciate others, and be accepted and appreciated by others, to the extent that we accept and appreciate ourselves. If you don’t have this positive relationship with yourself, it’s essential to change it before even considering the serious possibility if having a relationship with anyone else!
Fear of loneliness: If either of you are willing to put up with disappointment and/or change your basic nature to fit in with an other person’s needs from a fear of being abandoned or alone, this is an expression of an insecure ‘attachment style’. It’s not a foundation for a good relationship, and means you’re being dishonest and selling yourself short, which will inevitably lead to mutual recrimination and tears. Strangely, it’s when you’re most able to feel happy being alone that you’re likely to meet, and be able to have a healthy relationship with, the right kind of person!
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