I recently attended a BACP Private Practice conference entitled “Relationships – Why Do We Bother?” I listened to two keynote speakers and attended 2 workshops and will be writing blogs on all four different aspects and views of relationships.
The first keynote speaker was Mary Morgan and she began by looking at the 3 reasons why we enter into a personal relationship.
- To share physical space. This is a challenge to our narcissism. We want to be able to relate to another person but also keep our own self. I feel that this can be a very challenging aspect to a relationship and needs both individuals to be tolerant of the other. How many times do we hear of couples in very solid relationships and then those relationships fall apart after they start to live together or get married.
- To be understood and to understand the other person. Think about the saying “my wife doesn’t understand me”. What does that mean? What does love mean? Love holds different meanings for different people in different contexts. There is a difference in loving someone and being in love with them. In relationships we may only hear what we want to hear – we hear the words but not the message. We may not even want to hear the message. The individuals in the relationship may have different ideas of being supportive.
- To make a nice feeling permanent. When we first meet someone that we are attracted to and then this develops into love we want to make that a permanent connection. We have a romanticised view of the other person as we have a totally intimate connection with them. We have found another person who meets our needs to be loved and cherished. Unfortunately, the other person may not be able to live up to our expectations and we become dissillusioned. If the relationship ends we will mourn the loss of that imagined relationship. We have an unconscious fantasy of what the relationship was and also what we have lost.
Previous experiences may impact on our future relationships. We may find it hard to show love as this would leave us vulnerable to being hurt. We put up barriers and this could prevent us from having a good relationship with a future partner. We may also find it difficult to express or show other emotions e.g. anger. We may want to avoid confrontation and so repress our feelings instead of expressing how we feel and negotiating a solution to difficulties.
There are many challenges to being in a relationship. We become changed by the other person however much we think we don’t. We need to learn how to develop in the relationship and to work through issues together. We also find solutions that we could not have arrived at on our own.
My next blog will be looking at communication and conflict in relationships.