We are different with different people - who fits best for you?
Here you are, thinking over your relationships. What not to do next time around, because something didn’t work – not for you, and not for them.
Relationships and how we feel in them are a huge part of our lives.
This is an important statement because they are where our potential happiness comes from, and conversely also where our unhappiness comes from.
You might have been told that you "expected too much". I personally love that one (not). You might have been told that you "gave too little". Wherever you are sitting within the where you 'don’t want to go again department', one thing to try and remember and do a deeper dive into is that it depends on who you chose and who you are likely to choose again.
Even though they might look and seem different, the likelihood is they probably won’t be.
The way forward here to better choices and change is to find out what attachment style you are and who you work well with. Also, becoming aware of relational dynamics helps too, finding out more about how you react and respond.
We are all different with different people.
What l mean by this is that it depends on the way they are and how they react to who and how you are.
This sounds kind of obvious but you would be surprised just how the 'obvious' isn’t at all obvious to many of us when it’s right under your nose or in front of you, or you feel rejected or totally misunderstood.
An example is one person will react in the worst way to your asking where they were in the afternoon when you couldn’t get hold of them, feeling annoyed and/or slightly defensive according to who they are and not to the actual question, whilst another might just mildly say, "l was doing... (whatever they were doing)" with zero reaction, but in fact with loving, reassuring tones – happy to respond and not react.
The way you feel about who you are will depend a great deal on whether your wishes, suggestions and enquiries are met with a positive response or a negative reaction.
So the type of person you choose in a relationship will be very tied up with how you see yourself, as someone of value to cherish, or someone who is perpetually flawed. This can be very influenced by how you are treated within your relationship. Most especially, this mirrors a childhood experience that was difficult.
The best choices for the type you are
If you are anxious in relationships and feel comfortable around reliability not incongruence, you like to keep in touch and be close, warm, loving and affectionate and want and need the same, be careful around picking an avoidant partner or friend.
If you pick someone more like yourself, you aren’t going to be triggered all the time and be living in a trauma response. By trauma response within this context, l don’t mean being trapped in something equivalent to a burning building! The trauma response l make reference to here is one of the four trauma responses.
Recognising your triggers gives you a much better understanding of how you work as a person.
Trauma responses (triggers):
To clarify, the word generally thought of as trauma response here is different from a trauma – the kind where something terrible and extreme is happening.
Trauma states in our relating are where we go when we respond to difficulty and what we perceive as danger. These are primal responses.
It’s really useful to discover what our 'go-to' trauma response is generally. I will list what the four states are as a guide to personalise.
- de personalisation
- feeling you are not in your body
- literally not being able to move or decide what to do (some people can have frozen panic attacks)
- feel emptied and bewildered
- devoid of self
- becoming aggressive
- verbally or physically violent
- running away or leaving, walking out
- disengagement refusing to talk and/or discuss
- not making or picking up calls
- not opening or replying to texts and messages
- trying to be loving and extra nice to disarm the aggression or rejection
These are just a few examples of each.
The discovery that we can make about what lies behind the people we choose to enter a relationship with is very much tied to our history and early childhood. Of course, they don’t seem this way, until we start joining up the dots.
Now what happens if you are married and you have children and/or you are highly invested in the relationship and you are not basically on the same page in so, so many things? You need space, they need closeness or you have children that relate in a totally different way to you?
This happens, sadly, very often, and to make it worse, we are usually attracted to people who have the very way of relating that we find the most difficult.
In friendships and partners that is easier, not easy, l suppose, to walk away from eventually when the pain outweighs the happiness, and the bad times outweigh the good.
But with our children and our parents, this is so much harder, complicated and hurtful.
What helps and works?
A workable panacea in my experience is to lower expectations and ramp up acceptance.
This takes time and practice and, like anything else we do, if we keep at it we begin to see the rewards and more importantly, they are felt.
Both those who need closeness and belonging and those who need space and distance really value being accepted on their own terms and allowed time around their needs to be 'seen' and understood. Applying 'your' values to them doesn’t work and actually creates further clashes and frustration.
There is a lot to learn and sometimes unlearn in the process of achieving real change. But the peace and joy that comes from this is worth the effort.
If you show respect you can get respect back, if you take time to understand those who relate in a different way, so much can change for the better, and if you give these things and continue to get nothing back, then, yes, it’s time to move on and seek other new relationships where you can be celebrated for who you are.
I know this from personal experience and also from years of working with people who l coach emotionally.
Your happiness is always worth the investment. Good relationships bring us such joy.