We can gain valuable insights by taking a look at the patterns of our past and present relationships, whether with potential partners or with close friends and family.
How do our relationships work?
We can gain valuable insights by taking a look at the patterns of our past and present relationships, whether with potential partners or with close friends and family. By Paula Hall.
Safety in numbers?
For instance, if we're often attracted to insecure people, then perhaps this tells us something. Even the most confident people have their own insecurities and it's quite common for people with similar insecurities to get together. Two people who share a fear of rejection might well feel more comfortable together. Either consciously or unconsciously they will sense that someone who shares this fear is less likely to walk out and therefore represents a safer option. Hoping to reduce the chance of a painful split, someone who is afraid of rejection might choose a partner who has similar fears. We all need someone who makes us feel secure, but we shouldn't let our insecurities drive our choices: this can lead to problems later on in the relationship. Two people might be brought together by their overwhelming need for security, but as the relationship develops these feelings can lead to dependency, possessiveness, jealousy and resentment - especially in the face of major changes such as the birth of a child or a career shift.
A battle of wills?
Any long-term relationship will bring disagreements, but the way we handle them can hold the secret of success - or failure. Fear of abandonment can lead to 'conflict avoidance', where an argument will be deflected at all costs, even if an important issue remains unresolved as a result. This can cause negative communication patterns and a dangerous build-up of resentment. Perhaps surprisingly, 'healthy arguments' do exist and they should be a normal part of any relationship. If one person feels that he or she hasn't been treated properly, the issue should be discussed. Even if this leads to a heated confrontation, at least anger and other negative emotions are being expressed; if they are responded to appropriately, important issues can find resolution. Some of us trust what our feelings are telling us about someone. Those of us who are not quite as intuitive should watch out for the signs which reveal a person's deeper emotional state and their potential to form a healthy relationship.
Face to face
By examining our relationships, all of us can understand better how we deal with conflict. By being honest with ourselves, we can learn a great deal. Nobody behaves perfectly all the time. What's important is the way we deal with conflict on the majority of occasions.