Greetings People of Personal Growth!
Last week’s blog describes how our history can get in the way of our present-day efforts to find love. If you didn’t see it you might want to catch it here before or after reading this real-life example. Today I am sharing the story of a client who has been working with me and gave me permission to share anonymously. Let’s call the couple Amy and Rob.
Amy and Rob are a well-suited couple, attractive, successful and wanting partnership. They’re making a go of living together but seem to be constantly on the verge of ending it. Let’s look behind the psychological curtain to see why.
She was ignored by her father, he didn’t give her attention nor caring. From that, she came to believe she was unlovable. To cope with that awful belief, she began taking care of others to try to earn their love. She also found it easier to remain mostly out of any close relationship. Not having a loving relationship, in turn, confirms her belief, “I an unloveable.” To her, handling loneliness actually feels easier and better (being free and unencumbered by a relationship) than having to deal with the pains that come from trying to harmonize two lives.
He, by way of an unhappy relationship with his mother and a painful breakup as an adult, has a deep fear of abandonment, expects to be, and is quick to believe that another breakup is happening.
So the mutually assured triggering begins. Either may start the emotional cascade of feelings. She may work late or have a weekend business commitment. He is triggered to feel that she is leaving him. So he texts, “Where are you?” She feels he doesn’t really love her but is limiting her freedom, trapping her into a situation where she won’t be loved or will only be hurt in the end.
She feels controlled by his attempts to not be abandoned and wants to end the very thing she has been looking for. Meanwhile, he feels abandoned and tries to hold on tighter by further controlling behaviors. It escalates. This interlock will typically remain in a painful holding pattern or will reach a point where someone quits. Or……
Through an understanding of the triggers and the underlying needs, they can begin to stay off the triggers. It’s best if they both engage in this effort but either can initiate the healing cycle. For example, Amy could share all that she knows about the situation with Rob, what she is going to do, and ask for what she needs.
Specifically, she can reassure him that she cares and arrange a future get-together. A clear commitment to the relationship would help him, whatever that is. If she isn’t sure she’s in it forever, which is what he wants, she can offer whatever is certain: monogamy, or wanting to make it work, or giving it 6 months – something he can hold on to. Meanwhile, she can work on receiving the love he is giving and learning to feel loved and deserving of love while taking care of her need for independence.
Rob can similarly initiate healing from his side with patience, reassurance and extra care to show her that she is loved. Many examples of learning to love someone how they want to be loved can be found in the book: The 5 Love Languages. He must also do the personal work required to give her space and not grab desperately for her time and attention. When she wants to run, if he can provide patience and stability instead of giving up, then his kindness will help both of them stay calm rather than excite more reactions.
Ideally, if both can commit and stick through the ups and downs, the subconscious fears do find a basis for trust over time. Ultimately that trust must come from an inner relationship to oneself and the Universe, but a good partnership can help us get there!