Perhaps it comes as no surprise that 'relationship problems' are one of the most common reasons why people decide to come for therapy. From the day we are born we are socially interacting with others and can feel quite anxious when we become separated for any length of time from those we care about.
When we feel we are losing a relationship which is important to us we can feel we have lost a part of ourselves and life can suddenly seem precarious and uncertain. We can feel lost and find it hard to function. We often talk about our 'other half' 'best friend' 'my rock' - so losing what seems a piece of ourselves can feel like a shock to the system.
Expecting to find all we need in one person can put an intolerable burden on the very person for whom we care. When we come to over rely on others there is a risk of co-dependency. This is when we seem 'joined at the hip' and cannot seem to function without the other person.
In turn this can lead to a life which excludes all others. Our friends, family, work colleagues. It is important that each of us has our own interests and social network so that our own sense of identity remains intact. Perhaps we need to learn how to give space to each other. If we do not do this we may be destined to never discover who we truly are and be lost forever - clinging to whatever or whoever meets our needs.
'Balance' is important in relationships; ups and downs are all part of our interactions with others. As long as communication remains open, issues can be resolved and differences respected. When the see saw of life is tipped down one end and up in the air for the other, the tensions and feelings of unfairness, resentment and anger can come to undermine the relationship.
Rifts, arguments, separation and finally a complete split is often accompanied with a sense of unresolved confusion .
Perhaps we expect too much of ourselves and expect too much of each other. In such situations we are likely to face ongoing disappointment. Relationships do not seem to work out the way we anticipated. Yet there is no right or wrong way to ensure a relationship will work. Therapy can help us to look at how we contribute to our relationships with others and how we can change our behaviour. If we learn to accept it is often easier to change ourselves than others we can begin to change the way we are perceived by others.
Active listening, negotiation and seeing the other person's point of view, stating our rights as well as facing up to our responsibilities and ensuring there is a sense of fairness and balance within the relationship and where there is not, reflecting on what we can do to redress the balance all help.
It is worth taking time out in therapy to explore how we engage with others and what tools we can develop to help us maintain healthy emotional relationships. Therapy offers a safe place in which to undertake such work and a non-judgemental, supportive therapist can help us discover our own identities in respect of our interactions with others.