By Sonal Sonawani
A lot of couples go through difficult times. Some of them really work it out amongst themselves and a few cannot. I meet couples who are going through a rough patch and are almost on the verge of breaking it off, every single day. The problem is never the relationship in some cases. It is not the disputes. It is not the incompatibility. It is not even a third person. Everything can be worked upon with communication. Then the question is, what exactly is the problem that drives two people who are in love, away from each other? What creates these disputes in the first place? What generates and decides incompatibility? What exactly is the problem that couples face?
We, as human beings, have a very strong sense of self preservation. That is what creates the need for emotions like fear, insecurity and pain. Without these emotions, we would gladly sacrifice our existence. However, we are not only created to have a sense of self preservation. Carl Jung coined the term “duality of nature”. It basically means that extremes of a personality trait, both exist within us. If someone possesses the trait of kindness, they also possess the trait of cruelty. If we possess the ability to preserve ourselves, we also possess the ability to self destruct.
Sigmund Freud spoke a lot about the desire to live and the desire to die, being the two fundamental aspects of our personality. He termed it as “Thanatos”, the desire for self destruction or death.
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The desire for self destruction is as natural as the desire to live and prosper
Have you ever experienced complete happiness and peace of mind at a stretch? Most people have and they do. But a lot of people, who have experienced trauma, pain, hurt or negative life experiences in their childhood or the past, for a long period of time, are alien to this concept of eternal happiness. Especially when it is related to relationships, where their core sense of attachment and intimacy is threatened time and again. Believe me, they truly want it. If you ask people what they want, they will mostly say “I just want to be happy”. Which automatically suggests a lack of happiness.
Now imagine a scenario, where a person, has experienced struggle in life. So much so, that struggle has become second nature to him. He finally meets the woman of his dreams. Or so he thinks. All boxes checked. All tests passed with flying colours. They are happy in the relationship. Life is perfect. Yes, there is a little stress here and there, but no struggle, no pain. The person starts feeling odd. Too much happiness is unfamiliar. So, what does he do? He starts finding faults in the partner. He starts behaving in a way that makes sure their partner will have a problem with. Either that, or he’ll start getting too clingy, over possessive, nagging, critical, complaining, defensive- everything that ultimately leads to the demise of a relationship. And now, there is struggle. There is pain. This emotion seems familiar. And now in that formerly good relationship, there is incompatibility, mistrust, disputes and betrayal.
When there is a true connection with your loved one, compatibility and incompatibility are self created. You can choose to be either.
How Do I Know If I Am Sabotaging Myself In A Relationship?
You have a pattern of perfectly good relationships turning bitter because of trivial issues.
After a certain point in the relationship, you start feeling that it’s too good to be true. That something is missing.
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You have a history of self harming behaviour, where you’ve either hurt yourself, or have engaged in risky behaviour where you could have been put in harm’s way, or you have entered a situation time and again where you know you could have been hurt.
You get attracted to people who are stereotypical “bad boys” or “damsels in distress”
You have a pattern where you are constantly drawn to people who need to be fixed.
You easily feel insecure and convert minor insecurities into fights and complaints.
You have a strong fear of being abandoned.
You have a tendency to harbour grudges for a long period of time.
You grab opportunities where, even if you love your partner, you are constantly creating situations for a breakup or keep threatening a breakup.
You know your partner is not heavy on commitment right from the beginning, and yet you keep holding on, waiting, and getting hurt.
You need not have all the above mentioned tendencies, but even two or more, are enough to make you want to introspect. None of this happens consciously. It is a subconscious process, where familiarity with pain overpowers feelings of love and happiness.
A lot of these self sabotaging tendencies stem from deep rooted beliefs such as “I don’t deserve a healthy relationship”, or “I’m not good enough to be in a good, happy relationship”
Our belief system is very strong. Many people do not even realise they have unhealthy beliefs till they see a therapist and introspect with an open mind. These beliefs get formed because of negative life experiences with abandonment, or betrayal. Sometimes, they get formed because they witness many dysfunctional relationships in their childhood. Most importantly their parents’ dysfunctional relationship with each other, or with them.
Sometimes, people mimic their parent’s relationship patterns in their own relationships.
How Do I Overcome This?
It is a long deep introspective process to resolve these tendencies in oneself. But the first step is just to be AWARE that your relationship might be facing troubles because of your own or your partner’s or both self sabotaging tendencies. The second step is to communicate this with your partner. Having an open conversation about your past, can create an atmosphere of understanding and respect in your relationship. However, your partner has to agree to not use this against you in any future conflict. Instead, they need to understand this and discern. Whether it is your self sabotage which is affecting the relationship or something else.
These issues and patterns can be overcome over a period of time, completely, with the help of therapy. Therapy is a process of healing and increasing your awareness about deeper issues that you may not be easily conscious about. However, you can take the first step now. Everything that you feel and do, just ask yourself a simple question “How did I reach here? Why did I reach this conclusion about this incident? What other perspective can I have about the same situation with my partner?” Sometimes, answering these simple questions can give you the path towards mending your relationship. But do remember, it all begins with you. Your partner can never take the complete responsibility of keeping you happy. You need to make a choice to be happy and you will automatically perceive everything differently!