A friend recently explained why, for a good amount, of time she hasn’t wanted to be in a relationship.
Basically it rests on the fact that she is too selfish, which she openly admitted. She wants to do her own thing, have no commitments, not be bothered by the annoying nuances of a partner and have little responsibility for how another person feels.
She effectively wants to live her life according to her own whim.
Now obviously this is a personal choice that not many of us would make, especially over the long term. There are so many beautiful experiences that we have with a partner, including the connection that can be developed, the healing that can occur, the growth that is influenced, the love that can ignite the soul and the tantric evolution of sex that feeds our lust.
That’s obviously the good—the very good—however, she still makes some valid points.
Over the course of my personal and professional lives, it has become clear that most relationships can be toxic and many are destructive. People can be selfish, and unless it is acknowledged and averted like in the case of my mate, it can have some seriously traumatic and dysfunctional consequences.
For starters, fighting ensues due to the selfish acts of wanting to be right. Basically every relationship experiences this abuse at some point, even if it is verbal or emotional violence. Yelling and screaming and cursing at our loved one hurts them, as well as ourselves.
That’s why a couple will rarely learn anything when it comes to these vocal and heart-felt blows.
Eventually, we all need to learn to get our anger out through healthier methods, such as on a punching bag or by going for a run.
In any case, it’s obvious that normal relationships have their bad episodes, even if it is only on the rare occasion. But if this toxicity pervades on a consistent basis—if compromise and selflessness are lacking by either or both parties—then it’s an ugly experience that we most likely need to leave behind.
Another challenging aspect to relationships is that once we get closer to the people in our lives, our expectation and treatment of them can sometimes change dramatically, for the worse. Just like so many siblings, even after they become adults, they manage their relationships very differently.
For example, the way two relatives or partners speak to each other, even if it isn’t abusive, is sometimes unhealthy. The tone of voice, negative judgement, non-empathetic language and disrespect can be a common feature of the communication between people who know each other well.
It’s an ugly engagement.
Interestingly, I rarely observe this between friends. Maybe it’s because we know that friends can easily walk away.
So when I experience couples or family members speaking to each other like this, including parents to their children, I think to myself, or say if it’s appropriate: “You guys are meant to love each other and be one of the most important people in each other’s lives, so would you speak to your friends like that? What about a stranger on the street? What about clients at work? There’s no way you’d go on live TV and consciously act like this, so why do it to one of the most significant persons in your life?”
Now of course we have all been guilty of it at some point, even if it was just when we were underdeveloped or under duress, so it’s not about condemning the guilty party. Anger is a normal human emotion and needs to be felt, processed and set free in a healthy and efficient way to the best of our ability. Yet it’s still a genuine observation that can be made in society: Isn’t that what is making the relationship unenjoyable?
If it’s an ongoing and regular experience, it must be.
Relationships are hard work on many other levels too, especially when we’re growing up. When we think we understand life and that we’re always right, or we think we’re going to be with this person for ver and it doesn’t work out that way, it can have a disastrous impact on our loved ones, including us. We most likely had hurt ourselves and our ex-partner out of ignorance and arrogance, and vice versa.
The reality is that our previous relationships can be a source of so much unnecessary suffering, if we let them. The bad break ups, loss of love and other challenging memories have the potential to seriously impact our psychological and emotional state well into the future. In fact, this is so common that it’s highly concerning; many of us hold onto our past, especially our past lovers, in a self-abusive way.
We are literally causing ourselves ongoing pain and suffering well into the future, after that relationship was left in the wake of our lives.
Yet even if we have treated ourselves like this, it doesn’t mean that we weren’t genuinely and unfairly hurt, either. What we need to do is take responsibility for the behaviors that affect both ourselves and others, even if there were some challenging experiences that our previous affairs put us through.
The view we have of relationships, therefore, is a projection of our own experiences and the way we processed them, be it good or bad.
Everything in life has its advantages and disadvantages, its hills and troughs, its yin and yang. Yet if we focus our attention on what we have labelled as bad, then we’ll have a view that is negative, no matter what we’re thinking about. That includes relationships.
In other words, if we hold onto pain because of our beliefs about our past relationships, then we’re most likely not looking at them in a healthy way.
Generally speaking, all relationships have lots of positivity and empowerment that can be taken away from them, even if there were some harmful elements to them. In fact, with the right type of attitude, the negative experiences can be positive if we learn and grow from them and embrace that change for our future relationships.
My friend nailed her own understanding of herself, which empowered her to create what she really needs (or wants) in her life. She reinforced that we have to seriously know ourselves and the impact that we have on the people in our lives, especially a partner. If we’ve got our own traits or traumas that would introduce disharmonious vibrations to a unionship, we simply need to be aware of and manage them accordingly.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case; blamism and projection always gets ugly with those of us who don’t take responsibility for ourselves. However, if we accept the baggage which impacts our partners, as well as ourselves, then we can undertake a process to heal and grow.
Ultimately, there are some dysfunctions that happen from time to time in our relationship adventures and if it causes a significant imbalance, it needs to be resolved.
We need to love the good, evolve the bad and move on from the ugly.
Author: Phil Watt
Editor: Emily Bartran
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