It's one of the most subtle, underlying questions that I hear in various forms nearly every day in my office. Some version of, "Am I going to become like my parents?", or "Please don't let me turn into my parents." Some people believe that they are doomed to the fate of carrying on their parents worst qualities, while others try their hardest to be as different from their parents and their parents' values as possible with the hope of drowning out any possible identification with their parents.
A while back, I wrote an article about why relationships break up. Though that article still stands, there are certainly things that could be added to it. Why do relationships actually break up? In another previous article, I discussed what causes attraction. In short, we as people tend to cut-off parts of ourselves that are unsafe or threatening in some way. For example, if we figured out when growing up that we would be scolded for being open and free-spirited in certain ways, it's possible we may become more reserved and close-off. What tends to happen with attraction is that we subconsciously find people both who remind us of "home" (family environment), emotionally, while also bringing in those previously cut-off parts of ourselves that we unconsciously crave. So if the closed-off person finds someone who is free-spirited, that's often an attractor because the person has learned that it's too risky to experience free-spirited feelings inside, and is now able to live out the free-spirited feelings externally, through another person.
While this isn't a direct relationship issue, being in a relationship with someone who struggles with migraines can have a significant impact on the relationship. This impact will be discussed more at length in a future post, but I hope this can be helpful to someone in your life who endures the migraine struggle. Can a specialized form of psychotherapy, geared towards relief in chronic migraine headaches, possibly be just as effective, if not more effective, than medication? It's long been assumed that when a person has a history of migraines, they have a purely medical (physiological) issue. This isn't necessarily incorrect, by any means. It certainly seems purely medical when a person has a debilitating headache, nausea, and visual and/or aural disturbances (along with many other types of migraine auras that exist). When there is a medical issue, usually medical treatments are utilized to resolve the issue (conventional and/or alternative treatments). But what happens when you exhaust the various medical approaches, and you still find yourself struggling with chronic migraines?
People love to make fun of the stereotyped therapy party line: "How does that make you feel?" Yes, it's one of the biggest cliches in the therapy field, however what this question stands for still remains an important piece of psychotherapy. When people come in for therapy, it's generally because they aren't happy with the way they are feeling, in one way or another. Whether it's about relationships, depression, anxiety, stress, jobs, career, or any other areas of life, the reasons people start therapy is both to help the concrete, external situations, but overall it's how these situations makes someone feel that matters most. Basically, if you're feeling good about something, then you probably wouldn't seek emotional help with it.
It can be difficult to appreciate who we are. There's so much each of us has to offer to each other, and so much to offer the world. It would be nice if everyone could look at themselves and realize the power they possess within themselves. Unfortunately, it isn't so easy. We feel the pain, hurt, and rejection more than we feel the happiness, satisfaction, achievements, general positives, and so on. As a result, we end up with depression, anxiety, addiction, repeated unhealthy relationships, and more. Wouldn't it be nice if we could just let the negatives roll off of our backs, rather than holding onto them to the point of emotional injury? Obviously, it's not a conscious decision. We don't desire to hold onto the negatives, but when the hits are painful and repeated, eventually we're going to get hurt. I imagine it more along the lines of rug burn. At first, it's not such a big deal, but if you experience it repeatedly, it becomes raw and painful.
How many times have you ended a relationship and continued to be at least somewhat involved with your ex? At first, there is the pain, or the relief, the anger, sadness, etc. But as time goes by, people often end up drifting back together -- they start talking, having sex, spending time together, and soon they're a couple again, even if unofficially. This is a highly common thread in relationship breakups. People want to believe that when they break up from a relationship that they've ended the relationship. But this is generally not so simple. What people refer to as the breakup is really more of an announcement to their partner that they're going to attempt a commitment to separation from the relationship. An actual breakup that lasts takes much more of an active commitment than people tend to realize.
Sex can be difficult to sustain in relationships. While there are some who are able to do it, there are generally factors that can counter sexual excitement in relationships. For example, part of what makes sex exciting is risk and unknown. Think of the difference between the first time you had sex with someone and the 50th. Repetition and familiarity with a long-term partner removes the element of risk and unknown, which can also remove some of the excitement of sex. Also, shame becomes an issue in relationships, which can inhibit sex. The more partners become known to each other as people with vulnerabilities, flaws, etc., the more shame increases. The fear of rejection, judgment, and ego annihilation increases, and can therefore shut down uninhibited sex.
As the new year approaches, people often take the opportunity to re-evaluate who they are and consider the changes they'd like to make in their lives. This is something people would benefit from doing the whole year round -- reflecting on the choices we make, the way we treat others and ourselves, our commitment to self-care, etc. One of the mistakes people often make in their relationships is attempting to change their partner. Eventually, they end up realizing that the more they push their partner to change, the more resistant their partner becomes to changing in the direction they were hoping to see. One of the secrets of a successful relationship is for each partner to continue to improve themselves, both as a person and as a partner. If each person does their due diligence to be a good partner, the relationship takes care of itself. You each focus on taking care of each other in the relationship, rather than worrying about how the other should take care of you.
This year on Christmas day and New Year's day, try turning off your phones, tablets, and computers for the day. Be in the present with those closest to you and try to disconnect from mental escape routes, such as texts, emails, social media, etc. It may be a challenge at first, but it will help open connection with your loved ones. People tend to feel quite liberated when spending a day...
This is the "part 2" to the article "10 Signs You May Be in an Unhealthy Relationship". It was brought to my attention that in the first article I made points of the things to keep an eye on, however I made few suggestions of how to handle those ten points. So this article is to address how to handle the ten signs of an unhealthy relationship that were listed in the previous article.