How much does my family of origin experience have to do with my relationship with a partner?
A lot … Family of origin history does dramatically affect every aspect of your life. A romantic relationship is often a replication of the relationship you had with your primary caregivers. It can either heal or further harm you depending on how you choose to engage in the partnership. Becoming CONSCIOUS is the solution. You must uncover the old wounds and take action to heal them otherwise you are doomed to repeat the hurts of the past. You have the ability to overcome extreme family of origin adversity and it is your responsibility to reprogram your adult self; blaming others will get you nowhere.
What are the chances of the relationship surviving if there has been a cheat?
Relationships that have experienced a betrayal have a high mortality rate because trust is the bedrock of a healthy and loving relationship. An affair is an indication that something has gone wrong in the primary bond. The trust has been severed. It is your job (as a couple) to figure out what went awry and whether the trust can ever be restored. Generally it is advisable to seek professional help. A therapist who specializes in marriage counseling would be best. The rule of thumb regarding what each partner needs to do to heal the relationship is that the betrayer needs to “clean up the mess” and the betrayed needs to forgive (not forget... that is not possible). "Cleaning up the mess” consists of making oneself completely transparent 24/7, as well as successfully conveying to the betrayed, his/her awareness of the devastation caused by the duplicitous behavior.
How long will it take to get over the betrayal?
A year would not be an unreasonable time frame; sometimes longer. The key is to assess whether generally the quality of the partnership has improved. Be patient if you BOTH truly want to save it. If one of you is not motivated to do the work, I suggest letting the relationship go. If you do not, you are setting yourself up for chronic pain. Letting it go creates acute pain, but in time the suffering ceases. Chronic pain is just that ... incurable and lasting forever.
How important is it for me to forgive?
Critical! It is often believed that if one forgives the betrayer, one is condoning the act committed. This is not the case. Forgiveness has nothing to do with forgiving or not forgiving the bad act.
The purpose of forgiveness is to be free of the pain that was caused by the betrayal. Each time you ruminate about the betrayal, the betrayer holds power over you. Forgiveness eventually frees you of this control. You have opened the prison door and let yourself out. An unwillingness to forgive is a recipe for chronic anxiety and/or depression as well as physical disease. Forgiveness does not determine whether you stay or leave the relationship. Either may occur.
What is the difference between a want and a need?A want is something you would like to have. A need is something you have to have. The line between psychological wants and needs can be very thin. In assessing whether something is a want or a need, ask yourself whether you can be “ok” if you do not get it. If you can be, it is a want. If you feel physical or emotional pain which does not go away in a relatively short period of time when your request is denied, it is a need. If your needs are continuously rejected or ignored in the relationship, you will chronically suffer. I suggest asking yourself whether remaining in that relationship is worth it.
How do I know if I am addicted to a person?
There are at least 8 hallmarks:
- It is all consuming, sometimes to the detriment of completing day to day tasks.
- A feeling of panic at the thought of not having this person in your life.
- A compulsion to be in the relationship at any cost.
- Urges and impulses so strong that you act on them despite embarrassing or dangerous consequences (examples: countless calls or texts, showing up at his/her worksite, wasting valuable hours scouring over social media, putting up with abusive behavior).
- Your self-esteem drops.
- Feeling controlled (your actions, your thoughts, your feelings) by the relationship.
- The idea of terminating the relationship or actually doing it results in physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms just like withdrawing from a chemical substance. Those symtpoms are immediately relieved when contact is resumed.
- You do or tolerate things that you are ashamed to admit to others.
The reason most people become addicted is because of an inward sense of emptiness or despair coupled with an experience from the outside that temporarily relieves the pain or produces a high. The result is a conviction that this outside connection will remedy the internal distress.
How important is good communication?
Critical! Most people have not been taught how to effectively communicate. No one can read your mind ... you have to learn to speak up if you want to be heard. The three skills you need to master in the art of communication are ... listening, talking and negotiating. When you have listened well, you are able to paraphrase what was said. Effective talking is: direct, clear, honest, succinct, specific, tactful, respectful and precise. Tone matters! A successful negotiation is one in which both parties win. When there is a winner and a loser, the loser will resent. Resentment is the killer of relationships.
What are some of the warning bells that this relationship may not be viable?
- dating exclusively for more than 3 months and you have not met the family and/or friends.
- have not heard your partner’s feelings toward you
- no talk about the future
- contacting you less
- you are only doing what he/she wants to do
- he/she still has regular contact with the ex
- you are putting more into the relationship than your partner
- your self-esteem has diminished rather than improved
How often are FWB’s (friends with benefits) relationships successful?
Not very often. The only way they work is if both are on the same page and too often this is not the case. One becomes emotionally involved and things get complicated. If you are going to engage in such a relationship, know that you are playing with fire.
What is the difference between dependency and interdependency?
You do not love someone when you believe you cannot live without him/her, you are dependent. A relationship is not healthy when one or both partners are dependent on the other. The goal in a healthy and loving partnership is to be interdependent. An interdependent relationship is one in which both partners are psychologically healthy. They nurture each other, but not beyond twenty-five percent. They stretch beyond their emotional comfort zone for each other, but do not compromise their own integrity. They are quite capable of functioning independently, yet they are mutually reliant. They share power equally. They take responsibility for their actions. They do not depend on each other for self-love and self-respect. Differences are acknowledged and supported. Mutual respect is given. Being overly independent (i.e. asking each other for nothing) is not healthy either. The goal is to find the balance.
What is codependency?
It is the disease of “caring too much”. The codependent attempts to control the other’s life through enabling, covering, manipulating, and managing. The reason for the codependent’s behavior is to keep at bay his/her own feelings of discomfort ranging from embarrassment to paralyzing fear. If the codependent has the illusion of controlling the other’s behavior, those troublesome feelings are not aroused. This dyadic relationship is unhealthy for both. It prohibits emotional growth. It is toxic. The only way out, is for the codependent to give up the controlling behaviors and to face those, at times, extremely disquieting feelings resulting from that loss of control. When that is accomplished, there is relief, restored energy, improved self-esteem and significantly less resentment, for both parties.
Can I have a successful relationship with a narcissist?
Narcissism, with its many variations of how it is manifested, is a mental disorder in which the sufferer lacks the ability to experience empathy and is wholly and totally self-absorbed. He expects constant admiration and attention. He feels absolutely entitled. In order to achieve his own ends, he will do so overtly or covertly, exploiting others along the way. Those characteristics are not conducive to the establishment of a healthy and loving relationship. Narcissism, like all the other mental disorders, is on a spectrum ranging from the mild to the malignant. You have to decide how malignant the narcissist you are considering is. Although narcissism is more prevalent in men, women also suffer from this disorder. (Beware: the "covert" narcissist is often more "dangerous" than the "overt" narcissist for obvious reasons.)
What are the most frequently cited issues of contention in long term relationships?
- family (children, stepchildren, exes, parents, in-laws, siblings...)
What are some of the things I need to determine before deciding to get married?
- ask friends and family for their assessment of your prospective partner
- mutual life goals
- the career path
- do we want kids. Two votes for Yes ... One vote for No
- will the partner be a good parent
- in sync regarding how we care for aging parents
- do we want pets
- housekeeping styles
- LAT (Living Apart Together) ... Yes or No
- partner’s family
- how partner treats his/her family, your family, friends, pets, children, service people ....
- level of eduction
- intellectually suited
- spirituality in sync
- taking care of partner
- partner taking care of you
- like as well as love
- good heart
- sexual attraction
- personal growth goals
- the list is endless ... your partner cannot possibly meet all the criteria, set your priority list and decide whether he/she meets enough of your most important standards.
In my Companion Workbook, I answer many more questions such as:
How to self-soothe, how to relax, combating loneliness, letting go of perfection, lifting out of depression, changing negative thought patterns, ending love relationships, ending addictive relationships, releasing grudges, letting go of guilt and shame, and examining the dangers of expectations. I also have an extensive list of affirmations to be practiced when working on improving self-love.