Two things happen next that can damage relationships.
First, now that we’re attached and fear losing or to upset our partner, we hold back feelings, wants, and needs. This puts up walls to intimacy, the secret sauce that keeps love alive.
In its place, we withdraw and breed resentments. Our feelings can come out sideways with sarcasm or passive-aggression.
As romance and idealization fade, the second fatal mistake is to complain and try to turn our partner into who we first idealized him or her to be.
We feel cheated and disillusioned that our partner is now behaving differently than in the beginning of the relationship. He or she, too, is reverting to their ordinary personality that may include less effort made to win you and accommodate your needs. Our partner will feel controlled and resentful and may pull away.
In some cases, we might discover serious problems – that our partner has an addiction, mental illness, or his abusive or dishonest. These are issues that require a serious commitment to change and often years of therapy to overcome.
Many codependents, who get quickly involved for the reasons stated above, will sacrifice their own happiness and continue in a relationship for years trying to change, help, and fix their partner.
The dysfunctional family dynamics of their children often get repeated in their marriages or relationships. They may unconsciously be contributing to the problem because they’re reacting to an abusive or controlling parent. Change requires healing our past and overcoming shame and low self-esteem to feel entitled to love and appreciation.
Getting to the Real Deal
We might not want to continue a relationship that involves addiction or abuse or has other serious problems. (See Codependency for Dummies for a list of both minimal and optimal ingredients for successful relationships.)
Lacking major obstacles, getting past the ordeal to the real deal requires self-esteem, courage, acceptance, and assertiveness skills. It necessitates the ability to honestly speak up about our needs and wants, to share feelings, compromise, and resolve the conflict.
Rather than try to change our partner, our efforts are better placed on learning to accept him or her. (This doesn’t mean accepting abuse.) This is the struggle for intimacy and requires a commitment by both partners to get through the ordeal stage with mutual respect and a desire to make the relationship work.
Steps You Can Take for Lasting Love
We will attract someone who treats us the way we expect to be treated. As we value ourselves more, whom we are attracted to will also change, and we will naturally avoid someone who doesn’t treat us well or meet our needs.
- Know yourself, your needs, wants, and limits.
- Take time to get to know the person you’re dating. Learn who they really are and how you both resolve the conflict.
- Remember that sex releases oxytocin and increases bonding (though it can occur without it).
- Be honest from the start. Don’t hide who you are, including your needs. Speak up when you dislike something.
- Talk honestly about what you want and your expectations in a relationship. If the other person doesn’t want the same things, end it. (This may not be easy, but the relationship wouldn’t have worked or satisfied you.)
- Research shows that relationship outcomes are predictable based on the partners’ self esteem. Self-worth is essential to healthy relationships. It also enables you to receive love and be repulsed by abuse.
- Boundaries and intimacy are essential to relationships. Learn to be assertive to express your feelings, needs, and wants and set boundaries.
©Darlene Lancer 2017
Written by Darlene Lancer JD, MFT
Originally appeared on WhatIsCodependency.com
You may also like:
- The Honest Truth About Life After A Toxic Relationship
- 6 Telltale Signs Of The Most Toxic Relationship Of All
- Toxic relationship habits most people think are normal
- Zodiac Signs and Their Toxic Habits, When In A Relationship
- 22 Stages of Relationship Between An Empath and A Narcissist
- 10 Toxic People You Should Avoid At All Costs