This Woman's Journey: Are You In A Healthy Relationship?
My oldest daughter phones me a little after midnight. “I was born at this exact minute” she says. I wish her happy birthday then remind her that she’s an hour ahead of her actual birth place time “I was going to call you in the morning sweetie, but technically…you still have 1 hour to go,” I joke. But she wants no part of the humor. Feeling older than her young years and forgotten on her birthday by the man she thought she would marry, she reveals some of the issues she has been struggling with in her relationship. In no uncertain terms she describes her fiancee's selfishness, his lack of communication, motivation and commitment to anything, let alone their relationship. “I feel like I’m doing all the work,” she sobs.
So I ask her the big question. If you are unhappy…why are you staying in the relationship? “Because I love him.” “Okay…what is it that makes you feel it is love?” She’s silent for a moment then rattles off a list of reasons that start with “He does this for me, he makes me feel like… and I don’t know who I am or where I would be without him.”
I tell my daughter, (even though she really didn’t want to hear this,) that the reasons she just gave, described her own feelings of inadequacy…and that somehow she had convinced herself that she needed this man to validate her existence. “In essence,” I tell her, “you are saying you don’t matter unless you are with him… and that is not love.”
Unfortunately, my daughter’s experience is somewhat typical of so many unhealthy relationships in which one or both partners are together on a “need” basis. Whether you are looking for or are already in a relationship…if lingering personal issues have not been identified and resolved, you cannot expect to enter into or retain a healthy and fully functional relationship.
Many relationships are dysfunctional because one or both partners are still operating from old programming, or what I often call “old tapes” playing in the head. These tapes, (or baggage as some refer to them,) are residual issues we carry with us from past relationships. Some we even retain from childhood. No matter how many relationships one enters into, as long as we retain those old tapes, the theme will remain the same, whether it is insecurity, the need for validation, lack of self-worth and the list goes on. Unless the tapes are discarded permanently, we will continue to attract the same type of person into our lives…and end up in the same type of relationship. It is important to remember that like attracts like.
So for those of you who might currently be in a non-functioning relationship, or who are still working on identifying and healing your own issues from the past…I have compiled a short list of samples of old programming/tapes which should help you to get an idea of what to look for and to discard.
- The feeling that you are not worthy of having someone love you just the way you are, faults and all.
- The belief that you have to settle or wind up alone.
- The need to “fix” the relationship or the person you are involved with.
- Feeling that if you try just a little harder your partner will love you more.
- The feeling that you have to be careful about what you say and do….feeling like you are walking on eggshells.
- The expectation that the relationship is going to fail anyway and rather than be the one who is left, you subconsciously drive your partner away. This is acting out in what I call the “go away a little closer” syndrome.
- Fear of abandonment.
- Insecurity and lack of self-worth.
- Feeling the need to be in a relationship in order to feel validated or complete.
- Under-estimating your potential and not knowing just who you are and what you need.
- The feeling that you are the only one putting in the effort to make the relationship work.
- Lack of trust. Suspicious of your partner's behavior with no apparent reason on the surface for being so.