Post Valentine’s Day Reflections…..Relationship maintenance – 5 Key Suvival Tips.

We all need and want to be loved. This is a fundamental human need. As important as needing food, warmth and shelter is, love is usually portrayed as something to be ‘attained’ in the same way. I am not sure whether or not it can ever be something to be achieved that can permanently last. Married, single, divorced…we all have our own experiences of love. It is not something that ever conforms to a stereotypical view in my opinion. It is something we are all familiar with and all identify with differently. My experience of love will be completely different to yours but both experiences will have the same inherent value.

I remember going out with the first serious love of my life when I was 25 years old and I felt like I was in heaven. I had fancied him for months and was thrilled to bits (and slightly nervous) that he had asked me out. The nerves, the anticipation, the butterflies in my stomach…it was new and scary but magical as is any first time love.

But soon, it felt like torture more at one point. I said to myself ‘If this is what loves does to people, I don’t think I really want to feel like this anymore.’ I was drained from excitement, desire and sleepless nights when all I did was lie in bed thinking about him. ‘No’, I told myself. All this pain is worth it. He’s worth it.’ I couldn’t work it out – was I in love or in hell?

Soon, everything I had convinced myself to be true was promptly shattered to a million pieces. One day, he broke up with me out of the blue. I knew he had been under a lot of pressure with studies but this…this was an unexpected killer blow. The torture of loving someone had adopted a new twist. The torture of being without the person who you adore and need most of all. The most frustrating question was why? We were having a great time, we enjoyed each other’s company, we laughed so much and had so much in common. What went wrong?

I couldn’t stop thinking about it. What did I do? I hadn’t actually done anything in fact. Was there someone else? I was a woman possessed with ‘why.’ Love turned to hate, hate turned to revenge and the cycle of addiction went on and on. Love one day, hate and plotting my revenge the next. What I thought I had, was lost.

All I had were memories and even then, they all seemed worthless. A waste of time. Was it though? The cycle of wanting and needing seemed to be a force that was draining me in numerous relationships throughout my early to mid twenties.I hated the fact that I felt I needed someone. It made me feel weak and pathetic. Such is the power of emotion to make us feel so good and equally, so bad.

I always remember a quote I stumbled across many years ago in a book shop in Leicester Square written by Osho, the Indian mystic and philosopher who said:

 ‘No relationship can be secure. It is not the nature of relationships to be secure and if any relationship is secure, it will lose all attraction. …If you make it completely secure, absolutely secure, then you cannot enjoy it – it loses all charm, all attraction.’[1]

This made me think. At first I thought it was nonsense. If no relationship is secure, then what’s the point of even trying? I promptly put the book back on the shelf and continued questing for some kind of revelation. The quote still bothered me for days after. Soon, something started making sense. Was I so afraid of losing the person I loved that I had become jealous and possessive without even being aware of it?

If we are afraid of losing someone we love, then what of love and intimacy? I realised all this time, every relationship I had ‘endured’ was stemming from my own personal fears and insecurities. I was too afraid to love and I am sure every boyfriend I had from my early twenties had sensed this to be true. I wanted to be loved and was more concerned with that than actually genuinely loving another person without fear of being rejected. I knew it meant I had to take a leap of faith and drop my controlling possessiveness to find the love I needed.

Needing someone is a double edged sword. We all need companionship and that is something that is very natural. At the same time, we don’t wish to be dependent on someone else in case we lose them somehow. Needing someone then becomes something negative, almost a weakness. What if they leave us? (What if they don’t?) Loneliness is a very big problem in today’s society and this is especially prevalent in the ageing population today.

Losing a partner we have loved and lived with for many years and mourning that loss is something many of us have had and will have to deal with sometime in the future. It is painful but a very sad and intrinsical part of being human. Nothing lasts forever. If we are alone however, because we are content and used to being alone to some extent, then perhaps it isn’t so bad.

Some people enjoy their own company (not unlike myself). There will be a point when I will want to be around people again and meet up with friends after having had some time to myself. This is quite normal for many of us. What if our ‘needing’ someone is based on deep seated, conditioned insecurities within ourselves? Then, our relationships become negative, controlling and suffer from needless outdated emotional reactions that have no place in our lives. So, what strategies can we adopt in order to ensure we do not fall into the trap of addictive relationships?

 Place emphasis on loving and not on being loved:

 To be loved firstly, is not essentially a need. When I say ‘need’, our quest for love should not be covering up feelings of low-self esteem, insecurity or lack of self-worth. There is no better form of exquisite pain than finding someone who mirrors back our own pain, self-doubt and anger. This is how an addictive cycle of pain begins. When we crave love and attention in a negative way, it is replacing something we feel we lack. Any relationship entered into from this perspective will be based on a prospective partner constantly having to attend to your emotional insecurities which have no basis on reality, just a fear of loss.

Become more aware of your emotional state in relationships:

Developing your awareness in regards to how your emotional habits form is something that requires practice. Are there any trigger points you could isolate in your behaviour? Think about what went wrong before and analyse it. Don’t just sweep it under the carpet and hope that will clean the mess up. To do a thorough clean, you’ve got to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty to do a really good job. The same applies to relationships and to understanding yourself more. Mentally and emotionally, you have to remove the cobwebs otherwise you will become the fly that traps itself in your own web!

 Learn to be content with being alone:

Being on your own and being content with your own company is a great strength. There is an important difference between being alone and feeling lonely. We all feel lonely from time to time, (even when we are in relationships) and events in life are stressful. If you are happy within yourself, you have no reason to believe that finding the right person will complete you. It may add to your existing happiness immeasurably but it is not essential to your personal experience and feelings of happiness. When that special person comes along, you will not feel the agony of craving something you don’t understand from them and you can simply enjoy being together.

Talk is cheap….but very effective

Finally, communication (with a trusted friend or with your partner) can help to unravel complex feelings. If you can work through your difficulties like this, then you are already off to a flying start. Having a shouting and screaming match and breaking cutlery against the wall may feel cathartic at the time but it will cause more damage in the long-term and will perhaps drive a huge wedge of resentment between the two of you. Keep ego out of relationship difficulties and focus on what matters which is the problem at hand.

Enjoy the ride

Life is too short to be caught up in worry and anxiety over relationships. If you do the necessary ground work (which is learning how and why you relate to others in the way you do) everything should become much simpler. Remember nothing – even the best and most emotionally fulfilling relationships don’t last forever so don’t forget to enjoy the moment and be happy no matter what….relationship or not.

© Copyright Christina McDonald 2014

[1] ‘Intimacy – Trusting Oneself and the other, Insights for a new way of living,’ Copyright © 2001, Osho, pg 64.


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