Failed relationships are one of the biggest causes of stress and unhappiness in life. Working on successful relationships, whether they are with our children, parents, friends or partners, is one of the most important life skills we can learn. If we cannot maintain lasting relationships, we will always struggle to be happy.
This article looks at seven common reasons why once harmonious relationships break down. If we know why relationships are liable to break down we can avoid the pain involved.
It is ironic that we can easily become jealous of our closest friends. Jealousy often occurs when there is a feeling of separation and competition. We need to learn to be happy at the success of others; it only when we can feel a sense of oneness with others achievements that jealousy will remain far away.
Also, we need to trust our partner – a suspicious mind is very poisonous. It is better to be trusting rather always suspecting infidelity or disloyalty. Others will be rightly discomforted if we mistrust them. If our partner lets us down, it is not our fault. But, if we suspect, because of our own insecurity, we are bound to create serious problems in our own relationships.
There is a big difference between real love and emotional attachment. When we have emotional attachment to someone, we need their attention and presence. When we have excessive attachment to others, we can easily become jealous and demanding. Often attachment occurs out of a sense of insecurity; if this is the case we need to develop self belief and inner confidence, we can’t just rely on other people to provide that. Strong relationships need a certain detachment; we need to be able to accept others for what they are, rather than expecting them to give us all their attention.
Even the closest relationships need to value the individual freedom of others. Problems will inevitably occur when we seek to dominate others. Often this takes the form of expectation. We want our son to become a certain person; we want our wife to live in a certain way.
Often people don’t realize how dominating they are. Parents justify to themselves the idea that they ‘only want the best for their children’ But, actually what they are doing is trying to live through their children. Nobody has the right to tell someone how they must live. If relationships are based on this expectation and domination, there will inevitably be conflict at some stage. The strongest relationships are based on mutual understanding and remain free of expectation.
Selfishness is the root of all relationship problems. When we are selfish we think of ourselves first and foremost. We ignore the needs of others and become ego centric. Ego centric people are never easy to live with; they tend to be a drain on relationships. When we are selfish we want the praise, support and backing of others; but, we are not willing to give anything in return.
True love is selfless, it is given without expectation of receiving anything in return. If we love our self the most, we will always struggle with relationships. Take time to listen to others rather than dominating the conversation; be giving rather than being permanently needy.
We have to spend time on what we value. If we always work late, it shows where our priorities lie. If we spend no time with our partner then they will begin to feel resentful / unloved. We can always make time for things we really value; make sure your relationships don’t suffer because you have given your life away to your boss. Also, make sure you create time when your partner is the focus of attention; do things that they enjoy doing, and don’t just drag them along to your office parties.
Too Much Time
It does depends on the personality of the people involved; but some people, especially introverts, need time to themselves. If we are always with other people, the relationship can become claustrophobic. We need time to ourselves; strong relationships should be able to deal with periods of separation. This allows individual expression and individual growth.
Whoever we spend time with will undoubtedly have faults. Successful relationships require a certain tolerance of others’ weaknesses. If we keep picking up on the faults of over people, expecting them to change, we create permanent tension. For example, your partner or friend may not share your judgement that they are faults. This does not mean we have to ignore when others do wrong things.
A strong relationship should be able to cope with constructive criticism and suggestions. However, we need to make sure we don’t become obsessed with noticing bad things. Rather than remembering all the bad things your partner does, make yourself think of some of the good things that they have been doing. Unfortunately, humans often seem attracted to noticing the faults of others, but, it doesn’t help relationships to do this. If you become too critical it will cause long term problems.
Tejvan Pettinger lives in Oxford where he writes on issues of self improvement and self development. He updates a blog Sri Chinmoy Inspiration. Recent blog posts include Changing Yourself by Accepting Yourself.
Image by Slatki