We're constantly seduced into buying the shiniest toys, upgrading our i Phones every couple of years, and returning any item that delivers less than complete satisfaction.When this mindset is applied to our relationships, alas, many could-have-been-happy-together couples crash on the shoals of unrealistic expectations.There are four categories for each partner: his or her good points during the relationship, his or her bad points, your good points, and your bad points.
Tami's parents rejected her when she came out to them at age 16.
As a result, she didn't expect to be loved for who she was, and for years Tami chose partners who didn't share her values — monogamy, family, honesty, kindness: "My most serious girlfriends and former wife cheated and lied constantly.
"Even though Jim took me out for a lavish meal to celebrate my work promotion, I never even asked him how he felt after he was passed over for partner at his law firm. " Writing out the patterns helped Rachel more clearly see her romantic strengths and weaknesses, as well as offering a road map toward overcoming her weaknesses.
For instance, she had labeled herself "needy" in four of the five relationships she outlined.
" followed by a suggestion, "Let's look at the reasons you've thought love meant pain." To aid in this psychological excavation, I asked Rachel (names are changed), a survivor of multiple dysfunctional relationships, to do a "love résumé" as homework and to bring in the results during the next session.
This involved making a chart listing details of her most important failed romances.
I told Tami, "You're scared, and that's totally normal, but being okay with uncomfortable, scary feelings ultimately takes more energy than sabotaging the relationship." I told her when a thought like, "Sheila has no sense of style; I can't be with someone who wears Gap clothing" invaded her head, to yell: "Stop — I'm creating bullshit because I'm scared!
" I also suggested she discuss her fears with Sheila.
Instead of a movie date, Catron and her co-experimenter, an acquaintance she'd admired from afar, asked and answered a series of increasingly personal questions like, "Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
" and, "For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
When you run into relationship conflict, then, it's vital to ask yourself why this person is displeasing you — is it something concrete he or she has done or not done?