An inheritable disease An intrusive and controlling parent lurking in the background Any past hidden behavior that might be unacceptable to a new partner can be a deal breaker when it is finally revealed. Whether one partner should tell another about them can vary by the seriousness of the issue and whether or not its aftermath will ultimately affect the new relationship.
These common examples can be hard to endure, and it is up to each person when to share them. There are also very serious issues that must be shared up front, even though the risk is high. For instance, if a potential partner has an STD that could threaten health , a vindictive ex-wife or husband, or a prior felony conviction that might affect the future. Sadly, some partners find over time that they cannot live with certain crucially important different needs or desires.
Some of the most common are different sexual appetites, disparate dreams , or how to deal with prior partners, but there are many others. How should our money be allocated? What is our ideal place to live? How many children, if any, should we have? Do we take care of our parents? What are our criteria for friendships? How much time away from each other can we tolerate?
How do we communicate and can we resolve important conflicts? These potential differences rarely come to light early in a relationship. It is only when resources are pooled that partners begin to reveal what they can live without, compromise on, or are unwilling to change. Those differences need to be sorted out with mutual respect and support, but often bring out behaviors that neither partner could have anticipated, nor can live with. The partners who relish those early moments will hold on dearly to the joy of their bliss.
They strive to overlook flaws, and embellish those qualities that make their new partner bigger than life. It is totally normal for those exaggerated illusions to diminish over time and the partners grow to know each other more deeply. What is considered highly desirable at the beginning may have a negative downside that isn't revealed until the relationship matures. For instance, a partner dedicated to his or her mission in life may seem marvelously impressive, but then disappoints that partner by too often prioritizing that commitment over the relationship.
A very attractive partner who dedicates a great deal of time maintaining that result might seem too self-interested. A person wonderfully careful about not over spending can, over time, appear stingy and cheap. A passionate partner who is initially highly sexual may be much less so as other priorities emerge. When things quiet down, the partners are in line to make new appraisals of what is good, what needs improvement, and what may be unacceptable.
Abundant in the energy to face challenge, they feel they can face any crisis, unexpected or anticipated. Unfortunately, resources are not endless and too many stressors can erode the deepest of commitments. If they cannot triumph over them, they run the risk of finding each other inadequate.
Sometimes there is just too much heartache, and any relationship can go down when too much is too much. Sharing the power to make decisions, they become an integrated team creating mutually-agreed-upon solutions.
As the relationship matures, one or the other partner may express his or her desires, biases , and prejudices with more intensity.
Too often, this process results in reciprocal defensiveness with both partners may resort to defending their positions and trying to pressure the other into complying.
What might have been a mutual decision to spend all of their time together may become a problem if one partner wants more time alone and the other wants to share that time with others. For example, the more social partner may now want to bring other friends into the relationship, or spend time away without the other partner.
Perhaps one partner needs quiet, separate time, leaving the other feeling lonely and abandoned. Either may have used sweet seduction, gentle coercion, or invitation in the past, but now has lost patience and uses more intense persuasions.
Perhaps either may threaten consequences that are, in reality, hidden power plays for control. Hurtful struggles replace past compromises as each vies to win the game.
Power struggles can result in partners just walking away, ranting in anger , creating desperate pleas, or using guilt as a bludgeoning stick. If power struggles persist, couples go from being a team to adversaries on opposite sides of the playing field. Keeping things light, surface, and non-threatening is more common behavior. But, as love grows, successful couples begin to deepen their communication and take more risks in sharing their vulnerabilities and flaws.
They are willing to be known in more vulnerable ways and to listen more deeply to each other. It is all too common and terribly sad when partners cannot go beyond superficial interactions. Without the courage or capability to allow their core selves to connect, the relationship will fall prey to shallow connections over time.
There are many reasons why lovers are afraid to connect at a deeper level. Insecurity can make them afraid that their partners will love them less if they know too much. Perhaps, when they've tried in the past, they have had bad experiences and felt rejection, abandonment, or invalidation.
If they've tried in their current relationship and not been well received, they may have recoiled and returned to acting in ways that seem less threatening.
Soon, they are more likely to share who they really are with others, rather than with each other. Fearful of scarring the relationship further, they stay with comfortable and non-threatening words and behaviors.
Over time, their interactions become predictable rituals, requiring less and less effort. To others, they may appear to be totally compatible, but they are really just repeating known and secure habitual behaviors. In time they will become susceptible to new and more intriguing experiences.
If a couple has made every effort to know one another deeply and comes to the end of that discovery, they will begin to take each other for granted and put less energy into a dull and habitual relationship. Very often one partner moves ahead in his or her evolution and the other steadfastly stays the same. If no amount of requests, pleading, or threatening changes that pattern, the person who was once enthralled will feel entrapped in same-old-same-old, and needs to move on.
If the relationship both scars often but continues to grow, it will be constantly in flux, with partners who alternate between hurting and healing. These relationships often continue for long periods of time but usually eventually exhaust the partners who are in them. When a relationship seldom scars and is in constant transformation, the partners within it are lucky people who will probably never lose interest in each other.
The last possible combination is a relationship that neither scars nor grows. On the surface, it may seem a magically compatible, quietly successful union, but the lack of excitement and energy observed can be a powerful warning sign that there is trouble brewing.
They no longer need to pay much attention to know what is going on. There are no surprises, no challenges, and no growth. These people seem to go through life as if in a house of mirrors. As long as there is no conflict, they do not color outside the lines nor feel their energy diminishing. If their passive behavior is confined to the relationship, they will eventually have little to say to each other, and even lessened passion. If they are getting their needs for transformation elsewhere, the contradiction between their behavior within and outside of the relationship will eventually erase one or the other.
Addictive behaviors are simply compulsive, urgent indulgences that take one partner away from the other and cause long-term damage to an intimate relationship. Whether drugs and alcohol, social engagements, involvement in sports or body fitness, or excessive work commitments, they are competing relationships that take precedent over the primary one, and drain its energy.
A partner on the other end of an addictive mate is not given a vote to keep the primary relationship intact. Only the partner who engages in the addictive behavior can make the decision to re-prioritize the energy that he or she is spending elsewhere.
The triangles between two committed people when one is addicted to something, or someone, else will always diminish the unique bond between them. Whenever something or someone becomes more important to one partner than to the other, the relationship will be threatened. If the addictive partner is not willing to look at the cost of his or her decision, the partner deprived of a vote will eventually become distressed enough to disconnect.
Any escape that competes, diminishes, or threatens a relationship should be fair play for exploration and repair. Remember, the common resources of a relationship can only be distributed by mutual agreement if the partnership is important to both. One person cannot unilaterally decide to use those resources without the permission of the other without destroying the sanctity of that agreement.
They believe that familiarity has entitled them to thinking they know everything they need to about the other, even if one or the other has changed. Very often over time, the partners believe they no longer have to make an effort to renew their interest in new priorities.
They continue making assumptions based on old or incorrect data, and miss crucial changes and meanings that could alter their responses. They lose interest in each other and fail to resolve misunderstandings. As these destructive interactions multiply, the partners may no longer try to untangle the mess and let the layers of ignored emotional debris accumulate.
But many couples, with the best of effort and intentions, have been unable to stop themselves from destroying the love that was once there. If they have tried their best for as long as they were able, and still found themselves unable to triumph over their relationship heartbreaks, they must leave one another with respect and gratitude , and take the lessons learned as sacred bounty to use them in their next relationship.
To have travelled a journey that began with hope and ended with sadness is not a failure in life unless the partners use blame or guilt to erase what they needed to learn. When the parting occurs, and both genuinely respect what they have shared, a failed relationship need not imply a failed life. Very often, when successful in the next relationship, many people realize that their current positive outcome was a direct result of what they learned from the relationship they lost.
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