relationship problems - Leah Benson Therapy TampaThe cause of your relationship problems

Believe it or not, all your relationship problems can be boiled down into one simple explanation. Either you are expecting your partner to give you something that they are unwilling or unable to give you, that you may or may not know you are asking for, or they are doing the same to you, or both.

You may be saying, yes, I know exactly what I’m asking for, and I’m not getting it. And of course, that’s where matters get complicated. Sometimes what you are asking for is more than your partner can give you, based on their attachment style. Sometimes what you’re asking for is too much for any reasonable person to give, so they back away to get personal space. The trick is in figuring out which is the case. And the trick to that is being honest enough with yourself that you can see your part in creating the relationship problems.

Your “style”

As you grew up, you had the fundamental needs of being safe, soothed and secure with the people who took care of you. You also needed to be seen, or “attuned to.” If these things did not happen optimally, this translated into your having a “style” of being in relationship with people that is going to have problems. In the worst case scenario, all your relationships may be super-chaotic or inflexibly rigid.

How to tell if your “style” is creating problems

One of the ways you can tell if your “style” is creating the relationship problems you have is if you notice the same pattern occurring in all your close relationships, romantic or otherwise. Do you pick the same type of person to be in a relationship with every time? Do the same problems appear?

Being honest with yourself about your part in the problem is the only control you have in the situation, so I suggest you spend your time working on that rather than focusing on your partner.

If you are not intimately familiar with your emotional expectations, you may be punishing your partner with anger, ridicule, betrayal, humiliation or avoidance when they don’t give you what you want, without knowing that you are doing it. It is possible to learn what these expectations are and find direct ways to ask your partner for them or other ways to meet them, creating a more peaceful, satisfying relationship.

If you know what your unmet needs are, and you stay in the relationship after “trying everything,” treating your partner in the ways described above, your need to punish them is greater than your need for whatever it is that they are not giving you that you could get somewhere else. You likely have some trouble with being independent of them, and that is your problem, not theirs. Be kind to yourself and to them, and start figuring out an exit plan.

Every other problem you have in your relationship is an offshoot of what I have described above, bar none. When you have a secure attachment style, you don’t sweat the small stuff. You will either work through issues with your partner reasonably, or you find a way to part amicably.

Trouble in paradise?  Call me, we’ll talk.

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