Why Are My Relationships So Hard?
Once upon a time in a land far far away, there was a fairy princess and her prince (or a princess and a princess, or a prince and a prince–whatever the modern fairy tale would be for you). Point is it seemed like it was easy in the ‘ever after part’ right?
We all figured it would be magical!
And we set our vision on having that magical person enter our life.
But do you remember what it took for these two to hook up? I mean really, besides mythological creatures, there were family members who interfered with the road to the characters’ love and happiness!
For most of us we were raised in families, where we learned a lot about relationships being hard. It doesn’t necessarily mean abusive, it just means HARD.
Many of us learned at an early age not to want very much, but to expect a lot from our mate. It was a relationship paradox.
When I was married I wondered why I couldn’t have it all–that deep intimacy or even some of it. Why was it so freakin’ HARD!?
Lotsa reasons. Starting with me.
Our expectations aren’t even in alignment with reality and at the same time we accept far less than we deserve. Some of us are waiting for the other person to turn into our dream prince or princess.
Think I’m kidding?
A client of mine suffered anxiety and an intense yearning for an old love to wake up and smell the coffee. She wanted her past love, a mentally unstable, abusive individual, to seek help, be magically repaired and show up on her doorstep! I said to her, “You do realize that people who are ready for a happy and healthy relationship don’t dream of turning someone who has a lot of emotional dysfunction into their dream mate, right?” And I added, “What would you do if that happened? You only choose partners based on their emotional distance to intimacy. Could you deal with being vulnerable?”
Some wait years for the payoff, because there has to be something (usually unidentifiable– just a feeling of a reward dangling). They watched Mom or Dad waiting, or suffering through hard labor.
I’ve worked with people who have been together for years, listening to one partner complain over and over to me about how the other partner just doesn’t get it! The complainer isn’t doing anything but complaining about something that they don’t even want to change.
Because it is the level of emotional availability the complainer was used to receiving as a child. We want a list of characteristics from a mate, because we’ve been told to want it, and deep down at our core, we all want emotional intimacy. But the problem in between is we didn’t learn how to be vulnerable and unguarded. In many cases we attracted someone where their ability to get close is limited too. We match each other.
The ‘how’ in getting emotionally close to another human being can be a challenge, so we purposely choose partners where the focus is on the arduous journey to claw our way to intimacy (and rarely get there). We look for complicated, hard and tortuous opportunities to prove ourselves (and at times be superior to the other person). Be careful what you wish for, because if it were actually to come true, you may not know what to do with yourself.
We end up with hard, because we come from scarcity.
Scarcity means there’s not enough love, not enough good ones and perhaps, we don’t feel we’re good enough to deserve what we want. And so we settle for less and doing HARD labor.
Obviously, some don’t go down this road, but I am speaking to those people who feel relationships are hard. Yes, staying together takes commitment and work, but not the kind of work hard relationships represent.
Forget perfection or somebody to wait on you hand and foot, I’m talking someone to be emotionally intimate with you. Many married couples have no emotional intimacy, it’s not just a single person thing. Scarcity of love, of believing you deserve to have intimacy and then being able to handle it takes a lot of self-awareness, confidence and openness.
Vulnerability is hard to maintain for many long-term relationships, when one or both partners don’t want to be vulnerable because they might lose their stance. Over time, some fall into: “I’m right, you’re wrong,” and it’s a hard way to live.
Having a partner who is in a state of resistance to you, no matter what you seek, is tiring… and HARD. Nagging, whining or the silent treatment are wonderful ways to never get close to your partner. And for singles who seem to have someone they cannot get over, because they’re still waiting for the reward or the validation of what they didn’t get in that relationship, it is just as hard.
Alison was still married, desiring an ex-boyfriend from high school who also was still married. Alison wanted a divorce, and felt this electrical connection to her old ex-mate. He couldn’t offer much in his current situation, but he felt he was offering enough just by communicating and having clandestine meetings with her. He kept promising her he would leave his wife too. Alison found she couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat and spent a lot of time fantasizing about what it would be like to finally be with her high school sweetheart! She was trying to escape her current reality. The heightened emotional state she had with her boyfriend made her feel they had true intimacy, but all they really shared was a desire to avoid their current lives. In both relationships, there was no intimacy.
Real intimacy requires commitment.
What can you do?
- Stop looking for things to be hard, find the ease.
- Learn to love yourself and be intimate with you first.
- Surrender, take down those useless walls that keep love out.
- Look at how you come from a lack mentality–see where scarcity plays a part and shift it.
- Finally commit to yourself that vulnerability, openness and ease are your goals in the relationship with yourself… and then others.
Do you see the difference between commitment towards intimacy and vulnerability vs. staying in a difficult relationship based on scarcity?
Listen in on my radio show Scarcity and Hard Relationships; What’s In Common?