Recently I was thinking about how I used to behave in relationships—before I learned about the science of emotions and attachment.
I was tough on guys.
When my relationships were going smoothly, it was easy to act nice and be understanding. But during times of conflict, like when my guy wanted to see his friends instead of me, or watch a game on television rather than tend to me, or when he left his dirty socks in our living room, I took his actions personally.
Didn’t I matter? What about me?
I got angry and sometimes I said mean things, which I almost always later regretted.
I’d speak in extremes: “You never do _______________!” Or, “You always do ___________________!”
My training as a psychotherapist for couples and individuals taught me the power and value of positive communication.
What I learned changed my personal life.
Romantic relationships are a challenge for everyone. No matter how great couples look on Facebook, no matter how many loving, hugging, kissing photos you see of your friends on Instagram, no intimate relationship is trouble-free.
That’s because of two truths that are in complete conflict with each other:
All of us have inborn needs for love, care, and attention, which, when not met, trigger core emotions of anger and sadness in the brain. Over time, we can defend against these needs in a variety of ways. But that doesn’t mean the emotions aren’t happening - we’ve just blocked them from conscious experience.
A person in a relationship cannot realistically meet all of the needs of their partner.
Given these two facts, inevitably there will be times when we feel unloved, uncared for, unappreciated, hurt, and angered. That is not bad. That is not good. It just is!