I don't see couples for relationship counselling or marriage counselling.
Please note, for relationship counselling, I ONLY see individuals who want to work through their OWN concerns, issues in their relationship, privately, independently of their partner.
Fear Of Dependence, Commitment, Engulfment, Abandonment, Rejection, Commitment Phobia - Counselling London
Our issues only get triggered within our relationship - not when we're alone. The closer the relationship, the deeper the wounds become activated, providing us with opportunities to heal whet we need to heal.
Emotional Avoidance Or Dependency In Relationships
Getting Our Basic Dependency Needs Met In A Healthy, Loving Relationship Dependency can be devalued and we may act as if we can entirely take care of ourselves, don't need others and are a strong and independent woman, man inside. Yet there are some primary human needs that can only be met by another person and this includes that to understand ourself we need relationships with others (Maslow's hierarchy of needs refers also to our social needs, sense of belonging, love needs). Relating with others enables us to understand, make sense of ourselves Some of us may struggle to acknowledge our dependent love or know how we want to connect, love, be loved. (We may also have an unhelpful belief that if we want something - we won't get it, so we may stop our "want" for love - see also Insecure Attachment - Avoidant Style Of Attachment/Relating (Becomes Dismissing Style Of Relating As An Adult)). Throughout our relationships we experience different states of independence, dependence, interdependence, codependence (see also Relationship Choreography, How We Engage - Styles Of Relating, Relating States). We cannot survive as an isolated being and all of us depend on being connected to other people, co-creating relationships (see also Need For Fulfilling Relationship, Marriage). All of us need to share love with others, have an emotional connection with others and especially our partner yet inside we may fear love. Giving, receiving and sharing love, experiencing a dependent love, getting the right sort of attention, is a basic human need - wired to the human brain and necessary to our species survival, we have a drive to relate, attach and depend on others. Alongside looking after our own wellbeing, we all need and grow through these healthy love dependency needs. And there is a difference between having needs - honouring them, communicating them to others (coming from our loving adult) and being emotionally needy, maybe coming from our wounded self. We or others may feel uncomfortable or judge our basic human needs, yet our desire may simply be for our unmet needs to now be met. Some of us may deny we have any basic needs yet we are dependent on others (in the womb and beyond) before and after we are born for survival, safety, food, shelter & comfort (see also Our First Relationship - Early Connections & Bonding Patterns), as if somehow having any needs or asking for help is a weakness, "I've got to do it on my own" may be one mantra, "I'm not good enough" - another (see also Relationship Style, Attachment Patterns). We may believe it is selfish to have needs, depriving ourselves of needs and feel ashamed for these feelings. Others, possibly from an emotionally needy place, may insist on seeking promises, guarantees for these needs to be met. Our partner may choose to offer or give to us what we need. Taking steps we have never taken before, maybe taking the longer way home, making reaching out and asking for what we need more important than our fear of loss, separation, rejection, abandonment, engulfment, can support us. Accepting that we can't do it all, that it's no longer weak not to know something or to receive love. Alongside taking responsibility for ourselves with love and our need can be beneficial, which can only be met by us, our authentic, biological and basic dependency needs can only be met by another person through a heart and soul connection and when they nourish us. We have dependency needs, many of them instinctive, primal:
- For attachment, bonding
- For food, warmth, nurture, shelter, safety
- For growth, movement, expansion
- For all sorts of relationships. To learn & grow through relationships, interaction and stimulation with others who are supportive, compassionate, open to learning. To love, be loved, give, receive, share love, share our heart, spend time together, enjoy emotional connection, fully love.
- To share vulnerability, intimacy, trust (shaped by our early bonding patterns), physical affection, experience our senses, to hold, be held, be tactile, touch, be touched, held without a sexual agenda
- For intimate loving sex, orgasm, sexual, spiritual union
- For company, companionship & available to spending time with each other
- To belong
- For meaningful connections, to be seen, met, heard & a range of other connections
- For communication
- For feedback
- To understand, notice us, for validation, approval, affirmation, reassurance, confirmation, permission, recognition, to be valued, appreciation, praise, attention, adoration, admiration, adulation, acceptance, trust
- For a trusting & honest relationship, where there is compassionate love
- To have our highest good at heart, someone who we can count on, have our back, would never deliberately do us harm & would be honest with us in order to have a trusting relationship, care about the effect their behaviour has on us
- For carefreeness, light-heartedness, playfulness, laughter, fun, humour
- For independence
No man is an island.John Donne
Emotional Dependence - Denying Our Dependence On Others We become a person with he help of others. In the womb and beyond - our formative years we are dependent on others for our needs to be met. We are mortal beings and being dependent on others, the wider world can have a bad press as if we have do everything on our own - be totally independent. In the relationship and marriage counselling some of the work may be around what happens when we disown or deny our own need of others - our need to love and be loved, and how this affects how we give, receive, share love (see also Loneliness & Aloneness In The Relationship Or Marriage). Love dependency in relationships can bring up powerful emotions, affecting our relationship style. Some men or women deny their own love dependency needs or vulnerability, can't bear acknowledging or showing them. Emotionally avoidant, it may be more accurate inside of us that it's not that we don't have needs, more that we need a lot (and a part of us may find this uncomfortable). We may feel ashamed that we need others and being in touch with and asking for what we need - speaking up for ourselves and letting others, our partner know what works best for us may be difficult. We all need others to interact with, validate us, show empathy and interest, be engaged with us without diverting their attention (which ironically is what we may do). Some of us hide our dependency needs so well, because we don't want to be seen having any needs or being dependent (maybe fearing we are seen as needy), as if we are too proud to show we have needs. We mustn't need anyone, so can't let anyone in. Living as if only we count, "I have to do it alone" may be our belief. We may struggle to distinguish what needs we need to learn to meet ourself (see Our Responsibility - Counselling London) and what needs can only be met by another. (See also Being Autonomous Yet Part Of A Couple)
Man is by nature a social animal.Aristotle
Fear Of Dependence, Denying Our Own Dependency Needs We can select a partner who on the surface, who has more needs or is more dependent than us ("At least they won't abandon me, because they need me so much", "They are weak or the needy one" - see also Codependency (Co-Dependency) - Caretaking). We may have our own ambivalent, resistant, avoidant style of relating. Our own fears of dependency or shame around this can be explored in the relationship counselling. Repressing, suppressing our own dependency needs, we may fear loss, separation, abandonment, rejection we may also fear engulfment, commitment and distance ourself in our relationship where neglect and apathy may creep in. We may have overlooked that we can't make sense of ourself and others in our own isolation and can only do this through interpersonal relationships. We may struggle to ask for what we need. Yet if we need love, we may also need to feel safe in ourself and in our relationship, and know love doesn't mean loss of us or our partner, which may have its origins in previous wounds, grief. We may struggle to take responsibility for needs that can only be met by us. And some needs can only be met through relating with others, how we understand ourself through an inter-relational context. (See also Emotional Responsibility, Emotional Energy, Emotional Health, Emotional Wellbeing, Emotional Evaluation, Emotional Strength, Emotional Resilience, Emotional Intelligence, Emotional Growth, Emotional Maturity - Being Emotionally Connected)
Some people never say the wordsPaul Simon
"I love you"
It's not their style
To be so bold
Some people never say the words
"I love you"
But like a child they're longing
To be told
To meet our love dependency needs we may attempt to get them met "through the back door". We may try to use others, manipulate, have power over them, assert our "superiority" or self-sufficiency. We may set up scenarios so others become dependent on us (maybe even threatening to leave them as a means of control, and also know we wouldn't), yet secretly we have become dependent on them. We can also do this through our work (maybe through seeking admiration or adulation from others) or make so much money in order to give us a sense of worth. Lonely inside, we may deny our needs or believe in shared humanity. The therapy may explore our own interdependent needs, promoting the good of others and use of power in service of others alongside talking responsibility for our own needs. Compartmentalising things, we may set up a shell around us. We may close or shut down, bottle things up, go cold, moody, become bored. We may withdraw, withhold, become disengaged. We may turn to unhelpful habits or addictions. However, when our props come away or we get punctured in some way, maybe feel vulnerable, we may experience emptiness or depression. Yet ironically it is our vulnerability that may also send us on a royal road towards intimacy.
Emotional Dependence - Emotional Avoidance Emotionally avoidant - usually as a form of self-protection, some of us may try to avoid emotional connection or opening our heart at all costs. "I don't need anyone" may mean "won't" (see also Love Avoidance, Love Avoidant). We may have closed down, shut off or bottled things up, dismissing, downplaying the importance of close relationships, becoming compulsively self-reliant. Others may secretly fear intimacy. We may feel threatened by the prospect of sharing feelings and vulnerability, or criticised by our partner for not being emotionally open, meeting them in the way they need, and then go on to attack ourself. We may treat emotions as threatening, to be avoided, managed or soothed. If our partner seeks connection or contact, and we block them, we may prefer to believe that they are being emotional or overreacting. Avoiding emotional connection we may withdraw, withhold, become distant, angry, or take on a role to remain emotionally avoidant, e.g. fixer or pleaser. We may try to resist intimacy, which may have become a pattern for us. A part of us may hold back expressing love, or even receiving it. We may struggle to let ourself be vulnerable, real, which carries element of risk, after all we may believe, if we are really our self, they might leave. Hurt in our past we may vow "Never again", and some of our hurt and pain may go back to childhood. Longing for unconditional love we may not have received this. Being in touch with our own emotions, having empathy, being present and connected with our partner may be discussed in relationship counselling or marriage counselling. (See also Insecure Attachment - Avoidant Style Of Attachment/Relating (Becomes Dismissing Style Of Relating As An Adult))
It's so wonderful that we cannot live without making deep connections with others.
It's so awful that we cannot live without making deep connections with others.
Emotional Dependence - Dance Between Emotionally Dismissive, Avoidant & Emotionally Dependent Partner One of us may start off wanting the relationship enthusiastically, firing in all cylinders and now pull back from the relationship by being physically present but emotionally absent, the other works hard at the relationship (see also Relationship Choreography, How We Engage - Styles Of Relating, Relating States). In the counselling and psychotherapy we may also explore our understanding that one of us may have a greater need for connection and the other more of a need for separateness, how we can tolerate these differences, bridge gaps, remain loving, curious about each other. One of us may have learnt to keep a safe distance, sharing little of who we really are with our partner. In our attempt to constantly manage and control everything, we may want to keep everything safe and known, hold a laissez-faire attitude, yet be dismissing, avoidant. The other may be experienced as needy, invasive, engulfing, suffocating, high maintenance, struggling with personal boundaries. On the receiving end of being emotionally pursued, as if we are in some sort of push and pull emotional dance ("now you see me, now you don't"), if we see our partner as being "needy" or "clingy", we may withdraw - see also Relationship Dances - Pushing & Pulling. (Others may be ambivalent, resistant.) Yet actually our partner may be needing attention, seeking a deeper connection yet consciously fear intimacy and unconsciously fear separation, abandonment. If we withdraw even more, our partner becomes more clingy, and some of this may be associated with our early connections and bonding patterns (see also Relationship Roles, Patterns & Characteristics). We may shut down, not engage and the other may get frustrated. Like the polarities of a magnet, the more we emotionally pursue our partner, the more they may get away (see also Reciprocated Love, Requited Love). Giving and receiving love may be out of kilter between us. One of us may have become overly compliant, co-operative, supportive or codependent, yet realise over time we have lost our sense of who we are, that we can no longer give way ourselves as a matter of our own integrity. Addressing any of our own repetition compulsion and focusing upon our own life can paradoxically bring a distant partner to move towards us, when they see us taking good care of ourselves. How we can respond differently, have other options (including experimenting reversing roles for a change), can be considered in the marriage counselling and relationship therapy. (See also Relationship Style, Attachment Patterns)
Emotional Dependency - Losing Who We Are Some of us may have become emotionally dependent by getting our positive feelings from outside ourself or taking responsibility for others' feelings without taking full emotional responsibility for our own and inner worth - which gives us emotional freedom - the opposite of emotional dependency. The relationship counselling and marriage therapy can look at how can we lose who we are in our relationship. How we grow through having healthy love dependency needs can be challenging. For example if we fear losing our partner and in some ways become beholden to them, we may resent them, because we might find it hard to accept our own dependency needs. Becoming overly dependent on our partner may mean that we mustn't upset them, speak our truth, be who we are in case they leave or disapprove. We may have learnt to go along with things for the sake of it, compromising who we are and what we believe (see also Healthy Side Of Being Self(ish)). We may want to devote all of ourself to our partner, yet lose who we are in the process. We may become dependent on someone else giving us what we need, because we can't find it, or don't believe we have it in us. We may have become reliant on our partner to make us happy, instead of putting control in our own hands, so we can be happy not because of someone else, but in spite of them, because we are in control of our own life and emotions (see Basing Our Happiness On Our Partner & The Relationship). Latching on at times, fearing rejection, abandonment, some of us may struggle with our own inner worth, and simply being OK. We may look for permission from our partner. We may hold on to the relationship, afraid that they leave - much of which may point to our ambivalent, resistant style of relating, where our dependence on others may have been encouraged or we became overly dependent on others for our esteem.
Emotional Dependency - Disempowering Us The relationship counselling and marriage therapy can shed light on ways we disempower ourselves. Forsaking or losing who we are, we may have become overly dependent upon our partner. We can make our partner responsible for our security, feeling important or special, making us happy, having sex with us when we want sex, filling us up with the love or validation, approval we need. Yet in seeking validation, approval from our partner we may become disempowered. Excessively needing others makes it hard for us to thrive, as we become a victim of someone's choices, placing our emotional wellbeing in someone else's hands. And if we are not careful we can end up destroying those we love. Our need for attention may be in order to fill up our emptiness, hoping or believing our partner can do this for us. Some people experience this as clinginess, as our floodgates open. Nurturing and maintaining other friendships, interests, passions may have been forsaken along the way. We may believe that:
- Our safety & security comes from someone else
- We can't feel worthy & loveable without another's validation, approval
- Good feelings should come from someone else loving us
- We can't enjoy things or have fun, unless we are with someone who knows how to do this
- If we love our partner, and come to need them, then we may become unstable, and devastated if the relationship ended.
- If we assert & be ourselves, our partner might leave
- Our own feelings can't be trusted, needing others to validate them
- We don't get the response we want (to prove they care about us) from our partner or we have to wait too long for it
- We are empty inside if we are not in a relationship (or even when we are in a relationship, when we don't get the attention we need)
- We need so much attention in order to be OK
- Any attention is better than none
- We love our partner, yet are actually dependent on them, fearing abandonment
- Our partner completes our missing half
- We can only belong with another
- Need a lot of attention from others to feel we are OK
- Be afraid of rejection & give ourselves up at times to avoid this feeling
- Feel empty inside
- Feel anxious around others & not know what to do with ourself when alone
- Get angry when others do what they want to do instead of doing what we want to do
- Look to our partner to make us feel better
- Give ourself up to our partner, losing our sense of who we are
- Be convinced that positive feelings only come from someone else loving us
- Want our security & safety to come from someone else
- Get angry, when others do what they want to do, instead of what we want them to do
- Become emotionally needy, clingy
- Be continuously preoccupied by what our partner is thinking or doing
- Struggle to enjoy our own company
- Often get jealous
- Get tense or anxious around others
- Blame others (usually our partner) for our unwanted feelings
- Take uncaring behaviour towards us very personally
Emotional Dependence - No Longer Abandoning Who We Are Repairing emotional dependency on our partner may be important to us. Being OK inside, loyal to our self, no longer forsaking ourselves (to get the care we need), whether we have a partner or not, knowing we are enough may be important for us. We may wonder why we choose partners, who tend to avoid love (see Emotional Dependence - Denying Our Dependence On Others). All of us need a dependable source of love, yet to expect another to be that dependable source can create codependency (co-dependency), as if love can only come from outside of us, and not within, believing we have to look to our partner to fulfil our needs, unable to do this for ourself. "What might I need to let go of?" may be our biggest challenge. Marriage counselling and relationship counselling can unpack our beliefs, alongside ways we can be empowered, take responsibility for your own feelings (e.g. loneliness and emptiness, worthiness, grief, sadness or sorrow, helplessness, heartache or heartbreak), no longer abandoning ourself, becoming emotionally freer and independent, individuated. (See also Healthy Boundaries & Resilience In Relationships)
Diversifying Our Needs Those of us that have become overly dependent on our partner may have a rigid relating state and have put all their needs in one area of their life in order to be happy. The relationship counselling and psychotherapy may consider how we may want to spread our emotions and energy outwards to include every aspect of our life, nurturing our passions, interests, leisure, friendships, other relationships, etc.
States Of Dependence, Codependence, Independence, Interdependence
Dependence, Independence, Interdependence, Codependence - Moving In & Out Of These States Through the experience of connecting, disconnecting, reconnecting and interconnectedness, we respond to our different dependency needs (see also Relationship Choreography, How We Engage - Styles Of Relating, Relating States). In relationships we will encounter our dependence, independence, our interdependence, alongside our codependence, our need to be separate and autonomous, yet need to share and belong as a couple and feel like a team - a you, a me, an us. And having "me" time can be important. We may want to be alone yet sometimes fear aloneness and also want togetherness, which at times can also be too much or too little. We all have different dependency needs and some of us may struggle to acknowledge (or disidentify from) our range of dependency needs not only to ourself but also to our partner (my needs, your needs, our needs). Others may become overly dependent on our partner, abandoning or losing ourselves, especially in the early relationship, surrendering our independence, losing our ground and sense of power, who we are, as we become consumed by them (see also Enmeshment). The one on the receiving end of this energy may experience issues of encroachment, intensity, invasion, engulfment, suffocation or claustrophobia, sucked into something. It can be too much for us, causing us to flee, as if we have absorbed our partner's energy, feel overloaded, tired or anxious, yet we may be scared of taking our space for fear of losing our partner, some of which may relate to our attachment, relationship style. Sometimes our responses to these powerful energies can seem almost primal at times and have their roots in the beginnings of our life closely linked to our early bonding patterns. (And there can be a pushing and pulling dance between the two of us - see also Emotional Dependence - Dance Between Emotionally Dismissive, Avoidant & Emotionally Dependent Partner.) One or both of us may become controlling, possessive or over-demanding. Underlying resentment, envy and jealousy may play its part. Some of us may thrive on being close and together as a couple, and others may be sensitive to a lot of togetherness. Exploring our boundaries as a couple alongside personal boundaries may be important. What's my space, your space and our space are ongoing negotiations we experience in ourself and with others. Relationship counselling and marriage therapy can look at what these dependency, independency, commitment and control issues mean for us, alongside any fear of love. That we are all part of community, interdependent may also be challenging for us (see also In Tune With Us, Community & The Wider World, Our Interdependence, Interconnectedness).
State Of Dependence (See Getting Our Basic Dependency Needs Met In A Healthy, Loving Relationship)
State Of Independence Our independence is related to our survival, self-sufficiency, individualism and standing out from others - our difference, uniqueness, separateness, personal boundaries, inner strengths, individuality, autonomy. Our independence refers to our personal freedom. Our core self, inner continuity - a "me", in our own authority, ground, body, with our own behaviour, feelings, personality, preferences, individuation and personal responsibility with a degree of secure attachment, having choice, personal will, power, resilience and boundaries, control (see also Healthy Side Of Being Self(ish)). If we have a rather dismissive, avoidant style of relating, we may have learnt to be independent (or express our free will, free spirit without acknowledging its limits) from a very young age. In an exclusive independent state, or living as a lone wolf, we may believe or tell ourself we can't be vulnerable, don't need anybody or struggle to ask for what we need, believing we must do it all ourself, hide our vulnerability, tenderness, fragility (or fear separation, loss, rejection, abandonment) so we don't (can't or won't) have to rely on others or acknowledge our dependency needs, interdependency. Yet we are relational beings who can only understand and make sense of about ourselves through relating with others. We may not include others in any decision making. We may believe no one can be there for us, that we are entirely separate, not connected. We may not be in tune with us and the wider world, our interdependence, interconnectedness and living as if only we count as if we have no effect on community or it doesn't affect us. Inside we may feel alone, ache for connection, to love, be loved and struggle to give, share love with others, or avoid intimacy. We may have shut down emotionally. (Yet others may take up a caretaking role, as if to compensate.) We may have overlooked that in order to make sense of ourself and others that this can only happen through relationships with others.
Many times a day, I realise how much my outer and inner life is built upon the labors of people, both living and dead,Albert Einstein
and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received and am still receiving.
State Of Interdependence (Coming Together As A Couple Yet Retaining Our Separate Identity) Interdependence can be viewed as a "you" (your independence), "me" (my independence) and space for a third - an "us" (our interdependence - a third position side by side, between us) and that through joining in the relationship, this mutuality, togetherness, this "us" has its own entity (see also The art of loving sexual union can occur), where control and love is shared, we are more powerful together, yet remain individuated - in this together, on each other's team - there for one another, as we consider and hold the "other" in mind, make sacrifices (see also Me, You & Us As A Couple). A holistic place acknowledging the ripple effect that in some ways everything is connected, interdependent (see also The Connections We Need & Make). Connecting with others is the way we make sense of ourself which we can't do on our own (see also Emotional Engagement, Emotional Connection, Emotional Intimacy), where both I and other have choices, are able to make joint decisions and acknowledge we affect each other (see also Relating With Others, Friendships - Building, Strengthening & Deepening Relationships). This relatedness, having strong vulnerability helps us understand ourself and others. We have free will with a relational value (see also Getting Our Basic Dependency Needs Met In A Healthy, Loving Relationship). In this interdependent state, we belong and share with others (see also Difficulties Sharing Love), are part of community where cooperation and collectivism live, where interdependence can also be experienced as a global connection when we are in tune with ourself and the wider world where nature, like us flourishes through interdependence. (We are also in touch with our own internal interdependence, e.g. the interconnectedness of body, feelings, mind, sexuality, spirituality.)
Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn.Benjamin Franklin
State Of Codependence (see below)
Codependency (Co-Dependency) - Caretaking
What Is Codependency? What Is Codependence? There are many symptoms of codependency. Our codependency state is typified by a mixture of compulsive and destructive interactions and behaviours and not all of them will apply to us. Codependence as a relating state is characterised through losing ourself in the relationship by unhealthily dealing with codependent feelings, thinking, beliefs and behaviours, where others external to us become the centre of our internal world, living as if there is no self - only other, rendering our happiness dependent on things outside of us and outside of our control - hence our need to control these others. Being in a codependent place inside can be viewed as experiencing certain unbearable feelings, having unmet needs, where we struggle to take emotional responsibility for ourself in relationship to others we:
- Can be absorbed in parts of others' lives, we may lose a sense of our own identity
- Can lose our sense of self, personal centre, ground, anchor, sense of own authority & navigate around this by attempting to control others (see also Who The Codependent, Caretaking Part Of Us "Attracts")
- Can take on the role of enabler - working out what we are expected to do, assuming emotional responsibility for meeting others' needs at the exclusion of acknowledging our own, getting them met in order to make things right for the other person
- May try to treat our partner (as if an object) not as a separate person but as an extension of us, thinking about what's good for them only through our eyes - doing much for them, maybe trying to be indispensable
- Feel insecure because we have sacrificed our own feelings & seeking salvation through being a good person, having placed ourself in someone else's shoes (as if having a sort of pseudo empathy, pseudo-intimacy) in order to try to help, support, understand, forgive, attach to, rescue, receive paltry offerings back, yet seeking & craving love, validation, approval, affirmation, reassurance, confirmation, permission, recognition, appreciation, praise, attention, adoration, admiration, adulation, acceptance
- Give with an intention to receive, wanting something back rather from our being - simply giving because we want to give (which affects how it is received), where we fruitlessly try again & again to give enough in the right ways so one day we will get back what we are putting in, yet find it hard to let ourselves be the receiver of love
- Fear enmeshment & want to break free, yet fear abandonment. (Others may pull towards enmeshment in relationships, often with people who have strong impulses, addictions.)
- Are in a mutual dance between one of us being an "energy radiator", the other "energy sucker" (see also Empathy For Others, Our Partner)
- May experience the illusion of security because we have become totally dependent on the other
- Feel grandiose yet inferior inside, take on a superior stance by knowing what's best for others, removing some of others' choices & interpreting or withholding information. We may be convinced that we are "right", feel comfortable with a sense of identity, purpose, pride & vocation in our own martyrdom and as if to prove our worthiness we may complain how busy we are - doing things for others (yet inside feel disempowered, like a victim) - obsessively preoccupied with the needs of another, going along with others' feelings. "I'll be how you want me to be", being so tolerant and forgiving on the outside. Feeling unnoticed, disrespected, we may also feel frustrated, that we are giving a lot, trying to please.
- Have an agenda & belief that not only we can change people but that they should change through our subtle control & manipulation, yet fear change in ourself
- Are controlling at times by on the one hand becoming nice and on the other hand muscling in on things, rescuing, projecting, lying, blackmailing, blaming, saying things which do damage. Often through this attention seeking behaviour we may try to draw others out, because we struggle to draw ourself out. We defend our behaviour or end up not feeling proud as a sign that we need to give attention to ourselves.
- Have a tendency to butt into relationships not just with our partner but with others in order to control, change or manage others' perceptions, behaviours. And when we are in this codependent state, may experience mild irritation and find ways that stop us pursuing, finding love and happiness, e.g. trying to be perfect for others. In spite of our denials of control (to get from others what we struggle to give ourselves) we may be perceived as controlling or manipulative. Needing to be needed we can force our attention on others or over-organise things, which can be draining upon them, maybe leaving them confused or obliged to accept what we have forced upon them.
Possible Origins & Pathways Of Our Codependent Way Of Living In our early years our very survival was in the hands of others, when we depended upon our "caregivers" for our basic dependency needs and some of these needs may have not been met and come out now in a codependent form through our relationship style. We may have felt unsafe, judged, shamed or had to fight or hide our desire for autonomy, choice, control. We may have been a sensitive, intuitive child and learnt what others need, to make them happy around us and if they are not we become anxious or feel worthless (believing that if they aren't happy it's our fault). In our helping role we may have become like a pleaser, stepping in to be a saviour. We may have come from a childhood with an alcoholic or dysfunctional family and from a young age become scared or anxious back then we may have believed we are responsible for other people, that it is our duty to put things right. It can be as if we are still living our life through earlier traumas and we struggle to let go of the things we need to let go of. We therefore may have learnt to send our antennae outwards so others are OK, omitting to send it inwards, checking in what we are doing, what we need.
Our Codependent Beliefs & Thinking Patterns We may hold the belief that something, someone can make it all right for us, if we are helpful, others won't leave us. In our disempowered codependent state, it can be as if we are affected by others, believing that we can't affect them - that we allow others to take control yet believe we have to somehow control them, that they won't change, we can't change, that change anyway is bad, the same or worse. We may have made an implicit deal with others, that after all we give, our (often unspoken) needs should be met - that something should happen and we may end up feeling frustrated, angry inside that things don't happen. We may tell ourselves, "I have to give and if I give enough I am good enough, if I try hard enough, one day I'll get the love and care that I want. I'm good at making others feel better and can only feel good about myself if I make you happy, I've got to do it all on my own." Holding little hope and driven by our feelings, thinking and interactions in compulsive and destructive ways, it is as if we can't improve the relationship or separate from it through our ill-fated codependent patterns. From our own wounded place, we may allow others' moods to control ours and end up taking the emotional responsibility for their own feelings and happiness (if they are not OK, then we can't be OK), even at the cost of our own happiness. If, for example, our partner is going through their own problems, we may struggle to accept it is the way our partner treats themselves, and their own self-beliefs which cause their pain - not the choices we make. We may also generalise our often over-analytical thinking with a black and white way of seeing things and this rule-driven way of thinking may be obsessive using twisted logic. Our sense of reality may come from our defences - deleting aspects that don't suit. (See also Mind, Thoughts & Beliefs - Counselling London)
Our State Of Codependency - What My Be Happening Inside Coming from our codependent place we:
- May struggle to accept our partner's (or others') needs or wants as separate from ours.
- Base our self esteem on the (often futile) ability to control & influence the behaviour & feelings of ourself & others usually in circumstances of adverse consequences
- Deal with our overwhelming feelings in unhealthy ways - freezing our feelings, holding onto feelings, avoiding feelings, maybe become depressed, separating out feelings as either good or bad, justifying feelings by constructing narratives and struggle to openly express all our repressed feelings, maybe cut off from them, yet experiencing panic inside, believing that our feelings are only OK through others & therefore fear change, separation, rejection, abandonment yet at times get in there with a pre-emptive strike first by separating & doing the rejecting, abandoning (even though we don't want to) before we can feel rejected, abandoned
- May struggle to accept impermanence - experiencing hightened anxiety & distorted boundaries around intimacy & separation
- May hide our vulnerability or feel weak for feeling vulnerable
- Struggle to be in touch with, asking for our needs
- Feel lost, stuck, burying our head in the sand
- Are eaten away by a craving to be connected and have worth & take our reference points through others & mind read their needs, deeds, concerns, sense of reality.
- Maybe to our dislike, are dishonest with ourself (and therefore others) - in denial, delusion, covering things up, making excuses, omitting things, suppressing or repressing our feelings, projecting onto others
- Watch ourself from afar, struggling to acknowledge our need for love yet somehow hoping for a return of love for all the unspoken conditional love we give
- Struggle to be in our own inner authority
- Are confused - have memory gaps, lack clarity, doubt our own perceptions
- Tend to come from a negative place - be critical, pessimistic, nihilistic, become judgemental, blaming, rule-driven, with right-wrong thinking
- Procrastinate, put off doing things the last minute until there is a crisis or emergency
- Neglect ourself - maybe our health, appearance, circle of friends, solitary activities, desires, spiritual life and growth
- Wanting to feel safe, secure in ourself, in our relationship yet not compromise or lose our values, good spirit
- May confuse intimacy for intensity, control for security, obsession with care
Codependency - Giving Us Up For Them Alienated, lonely or empty inside, we may try to fill ourself through another (taking our barometer from what others need - forsaking our self). Often being very empathic, enmeshed, wrapped in someone else, almost feeling their feelings for them and taking on a rescuer or saviour role, holding things together for others, we may have learnt to almost ignore most of our own needs (often through fear of upsetting our partner) - prioritising others' needs, becoming sponge-like, abandon ourself, repressing our feelings, so if they are not having a great day, then we can't. We may become like a some sort of magnet - attracting those who need us (because we need them in some way - see also Who The Codependent, Caretaking Part Of Us "Attracts"). Taking responsibility for others' feelings, needs instead of our own, we may struggle to differentiate altruism, responsibility for our own life and feelings, accepting others are emotionally responsible for theirs (see also What Empathy Isn't). We may find it easy to give comfort, yet struggle to receive it. Placing all our own eggs into one basket, we may have learnt to take care of others' hurt and pain, yet neglect ourselves, underachieve, struggle to be in touch with and respond to our own pain and hurt. In relationships, sexual desire may diminish in proportion to our want, as our need to be needed increases. Through our collusion, we may believe we have to sacrifice ourself to keep the other happy, safe and cared for and this is what we are worth.
Codependency, Caretaking - Giving With An Intention, Hope To Receive We may try to be helpful, facilitate others, have assumed an implicit agreement that one day it will be our turn to receive our reward of love, care, for someone to take "our" pain away. Because we need to be needed and in order to receive something back (or not be left) we may be trying to selflessly give to others our energy, attention, time, tolerance, patience, care, kindness, advice, even freedom. Some of us may try to give out love that we can't give to ourself, to people who can't give it to us or we don't let in (see also Who The Codependent, Caretaking Part Of Us "Attracts"). We may also try to be nice or feign empathy, which can be perceived by our partner as controlling. When we give with an intention of wanting something back, others (see also Who The Codependent, Caretaking Part Of Us "Attracts") often receive without giving anything back. We may end up feeling unseen, drained, inwardly disappointed, or angry. We may have taken on a strong pleaser, fixer or rescuer role and when this doesn't work, we may sometimes withdraw or attack. When we do decide to give, others may feel confused, obligated, creating conflict as they may energetically pick up our need to control. We may end up repelling others and we may feel disrespected, even abused. (See also Giving, Receiving & Sharing Love - Loving & Being Loved)
People grow when they are loved well. If you want to help others heal, love them without an agenda.Mike McHargue
Who The Codependent, Caretaking Part Of Us "Attracts" We all have a need for love, connection, contact and our codependent self may consciously or unconsciously select a good match for us (see also Givers & Takers) - it may be a narcissistic person - someone who could be described as high maintenance, a person with excessively demanding conditions, e.g. someone with a high power status, partners who withhold and control, someone who is avoidant (where we too may be so - without acknowledging this), people with healthcare needs, someone vulnerable or who comes across as needier than us or feels like a victim (yet denying the part of us that identifies with that without neediness) someone with a life threatening illness, people who have strong impulses, someone with an addiction, e.g. a drink problem. When we are in our codependent state it can be with our partner or others. (We may also attract exploitative people or simply those who have certain needs.) Our codependent relationship may also be with our children, siblings, parents, friends, someone at work or we have set up a limerent relationship. When we take a role of a caretaker, or "a saviour", there can initially be a "good fit" between finding a person who needs to be looked after - takers are very attracted to caretakers and this works in reverse (often a person with broken wings - which may appeal to our own sense of omnipotence, yet at the same time denying our own shadow), and the person who is very willing to do the looking after (evoking our caretaking), and "fix" things for them. Attracted to troubled people with more problems on the surface than we have, we can take on the role of trying to save them - what some people call compulsive helping. Our partner (or others) may become dependent on us, as indeed we are on them in this co-dependent relationship, each has a role. And in this co-dependent (codependent) set-up or "dance", the actions of the other person we are "looking after" make it easy for our own problems to continue - that they have the problem, and we have not as if we seek drama as a distraction, maintaining our way of repressing, suppressing our own internal drama. (One of us may push, the other pull away and on the face of it we may see our partner as pulling away yet underneath it, it may really be us - denying our own dependency needs.)
If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. If they don't, they never were.Kahlil Gibran
Caring, Caretaking For Someone With Addiction We may believe that others' pain is our responsibility or others' behaviour is ours to control and may be our fault. We may tell ourselves "If only sorted themselves out, we would be OK". Trying to rescue, take away our partner's pain may be counter productive and to not respond or try to help them can seem intolerable. Viewing our partner as the problem (especially if they have a particular unwanted habit or addiction), it can be hard for us to consider that we too may struggle with our own uncomfortable feelings, e.g. our own love addiction, obsessive love, fear of separation, abandonment or rejection, grief, loss, helplessness, hopelessness, especially if we believe we can "cure" the "thoughtless" person with an addiction, be their saviour, yet deep inside we may know that someone else's recovery is dependent on them taking control of their own lives - not us.
Before change can happen we may need to recognise we are relating in codependent ways and how unmanageable codependent relationships are - recognising their consequences (that this outward motion of giving in order to receive begins to repel the very things we want to receive from others) understanding that the behaviour and pain of others is not our fault, responsibility or for us to control. We may feel we've tried everything and nothing works to stop our codependent tendencies yet identifying our codependent thoughts, feelings and also becoming aware of and choosing the full range of our dependent, independent, interdependent, codependent states of relating with ourself and others may be the first step. Acknowledging that change comes from within, by forming our personal boundaries, which aren't so loose or porous around our own self-worth and responsibility (which include limitations of our power over others) may help us develop new ways of relating to ourself and others. We may also need to choose to commit to stop using our destructive codependent behaviours and be willing to open up to our own dormant feelings, needs, wants.
Counselling For Codependency Codependency counselling or codependency therapy may take into consideration any ways we respond, which diminish us and how we might become caught in some sort of love addiction (see also Unmet Love Needs & Emotional Neediness), avoiding the potential to heal our relationship. The codependency counselling may explore how if we are feeling discomfort from seeing other people needy or lacking something, that although it may make us feel better, we may not add value in what we give and that the attention to others' needs may only amplify their needs further. Aligning helping others from our position of strength and aligning with others' self-responsibility and strength rather than the problem may assist us. The counselling for codependency explores how we can be enough and now protect ourselves from our own rule driven judgements, criticism (and sense of obligation), so we feel secure, safe (which may have its roots in our earlier life). How we take back control of our life, have choice (as opposed to a compulsion to live a codependent life) to change the things we want to, stand up for ourselves, ask for what we need so when others respond to us we feel valued and loved may now matter to us. Being in tune with healthy side of being selfish may also enable us to heal. The counselling for codependency can also explore how through recognising the limitations of our ability to control others, we can let ourselves be the receiver of what we give to others (and giving without wanting anything back), how we might unfreeze our feelings, needs and wants, taking responsibility for our own self-worth. Accepting us and others as we are may assist us. Risking seeing what will happen when we stop trying to control may be a challenge as may no longer relying on others or our partner (and our need for their love) in order to be in touch with and value our own sense of self. Step by step we may want to begin to observe our interactions, notice our uncomfortable feelings (e.g. frustration, dissatisfaction, disappointment). Being free to care without caretaking, exploring ways of relating to ourself and others, loving ourself and getting our own basic dependency needs met, being with supportive others and no longer always having to take on our codependent role or become lost in the symbiotic relationship, as we become aware of choosing one of many relating states, may be important to us. (See also Taking Emotional Responsibility For Others)
Enmeshment Signs Signs of enmeshment can be experienced as:
- Losing our self in the relationship
- Mutual collusion
- Struggling to tell the difference between our emotions, and those of our partner
- Having little or no separate emotional time or space, that we are living out of each other's pockets
- Needing our partner to rescue us from our own emotions
- Needing to rescue our partner from their emotions
- Persistent need for harmony, validation
- Constantly needing to know what our partner is thinking or for them to know what we are thinking
- Having serial affairs or experiencing sex addiction
Enmeshment between us & our partner (or even someone else who isn't our partner - see also Emotional Affairs) is something that may be discussed in relationship counselling or marriage counselling. In our fused, enmeshed relationship, we may have become over-involved in our partner's (or others') life that our own independence, personal and separate responsibility, has become eroded (see also Personal Identity & Shared Identity As A Couple). Some of us may confuse obsessive love, enmeshment with love. Enmeshment is very different than being very close with our partner, where we are appropriately independent from them, with our separate emotional identity, autonomy, able to grow independently with our own personal boundaries to support us. When enmeshed, our personal will may have become eroded as we are so wrapped up with them. We may fear rejection, abandonment. When we are in close relationships, feelings can get tangled up, embroiled, merged or become overwhelming, claustrophobic. It can be hard to be genuine because there is no separateness, differentiation (see also Differences Between Us & Our Partner). We may have become hostage to our partner's moods, martyring ourself, believing we have to reflect this, as if we can't be feeling good if they aren't. The relationship may have become symbiotic and we may struggle with our personal identity and shared identity as a couple - being there for our partner when we need to be. In our enmeshed, fused relationship it can be as if we are in a bubble, where our personal boundaries may have become unclear, permeable. We may have ended up "feeling" each other's emotions or identifying when our partner becomes emotional, so too do we. Enmeshed, we may struggle to separate our own emotional experience from that of our partner, even though we tell ourself something to the contrary.
Enmeshed Relationship We may have become so like good friends that our polarities what makes us different has got lost. Sponge-like others may absorb our partner's (or someone else's) emotions, taking ownership of them as if they become entangled as our experiences, yet struggle to maintain our own separate ones. In this enmeshed relationship we may be holding onto an illusion of safety. Losing ourself and our own ground, what distinguishes us from others - our difference (including sexual differences), we may take our partner's feelings as our own (taking on their responsibility as ours), or believe that others have the same feelings, thoughts or beliefs as we do. Emotionally enmeshed we may lose our sense of identity, we may believe that if we can't feel our partner's emotions, we don't care. Yet if we join them in their emotional state (or indeed expect them to join us in ours) it may be difficult to remain calm, be receptive and supportive. Some of us can't bear it if our partner is not OK, as if it is our fault, responsibility. We may struggle to accept that when our partner is not OK, we are still OK. In our enmeshed relationship there may be some confusion between what's mine, yours and ours (see Being Autonomous Yet Part Of A Couple). Immersed in an almost 24/7 relationship, disengaging - detaching ourselves from them, valuing the differences between us and our partner, building our own boundaries, redirecting some of our energy may be important, so we experience different emotions, independent decisions, we can thrive both as an individual and a part of a couple. It is through this individuation we can choose to be together. We may also have taken on a role of rescuer, saviour to our partner, as if it is our responsibility to make things better, solve things that only our partner can do. In our attempt to engage our partner, we may have disengaged. The counselling and psychotherapy also explores how we may have overlooked that it is only us that can make ourselves whole alongside how we can personally grow and develop (see also Emotional Responsibility, Emotional Energy, Emotional Health, Emotional Wellbeing, Emotional Evaluation, Emotional Strength, Emotional Resilience, Emotional Intelligence, Emotional Growth, Emotional Maturity - Being Emotionally Connected). Other couples may have set up a codependent relationship...
Commitment Concerns, Commitment Anxiety, Commitment Phobia
Wanting Our Partner To Commit To The Relationship Security in our relationship, marriage, is important for many of us where there is commitment both in the short term - a decision to remain together and in the long term - making plans together (yet if we don't feel secure inside this will affect our security in the relationship). It can be frustrating that we cannot persuade our partner to compassionately love us, give and receive love, make a decision and commit in the way we need, make future plans, so our love is consummate. Some of us may pressurise our partner to commit to us, the relationship or a marriage, and the more we push, the more they pull away, as if there is an emotional dance between us. Sometimes despite all our good intentions our partner may be unable to commit and we may be faced with mourning this loss. However we may have our own issues around commitment (often hidden), not only affecting us but also our partner. We may want a committed relationship, or to get married, for cultural reasons, family or peer pressure (see also Family Problems, Rifts, Estrangement, Inter-Cultural, Interracial Issues, Religious Differences, Sexuality), because we really should commit, yet haven't actually chosen commitment ourself from our heart and soul or thought through what this actually means for us and our partner. Liking our partner, we may want commitment without trust, intimacy or passion, which can be experienced as an empty love. Sometimes our partner may unconsciously pick up our own loneliness, emptiness, neediness and they may retreat, withdraw. Overly focused on external safety, trying to get our partner to commit to us, we may not have cultivated companionship, understanding, honest communication - speaking our own truth and an authentic way of relating, living. No matter how much effort both of us put into a relationship, marriage, whether our relationship lasts is something we cannot predict. Wanting certainty we can feel insecure. Worrying about our partner leaving, our relationship, marriage ending, may not be a healthy way for it to proceed and flourish. Focusing on our own life, being resilient and emotionally powerful, independent, centred in our own ground without pulling on our partner, developing shared values, exploring our conscious and unconscious intentions, expectations (what has been called "conscious coupling"), can for some couples open up the space for the other to also occupy, walk towards, commit.
Commitment Anxiety - Fear Of Commitment After Initial Stage Of Relationship A pattern can occur as soon as someone becomes important for us. We may enjoy the early romance, excitement - really like someone, feel attracted, falling in love quickly in these early stages of our relationship, yet after a while we may fear stagnation or find a number of reasons to back out, start looking for flaws, faults - even blowing them out of proportion, look for excitement elsewhere, trying to find reasons to avoid commitment (and be tempted to disappear). For those of us who are highly sensitive, we may struggle with commitment, because we are more aware of the cost of loss, yet also aware of the benefits of closeness. Some of us may struggle if someone gets really close to us and fear we can become totally dependent or want to run a mile, which can create a push and pull dynamic. Counselling can explore what else is happening around this, including our own bonding patterns, how we keep something back - maybe unresolved fear, terror of losing ourself in the relationship. Some of us believe that if we love someone, we are responsible for their feelings rather than our own and also believe we have to give ourself up. Others may be afraid that if our partner feels hurt, disappointed, they will reject us. The counselling for anxiety about commitment, commitment phobia explores how we can be true to ourself, even in the face of another's anger, rejection, loss. Later on in our relationship we may struggle with the balance of giving and receiving love, or anything more serious, deep - living a shared life that gives us meaning, especially if it involves maintaining and nurturing the relationship, honouring each other and the counselling for commitment issues can explore this further alongside where we place our priorities, focus, beyond our fears, how we learn to manage the loneliness and heartache of rejection in order to remain open and create intimacy.
Fear Of Commitment In A Relationship - Commitment Phobia, Anxiety About Commitment Being committed in our relationship can help make future decisions together as a couple, help us feel safer and loved, yet this may not always be our experience. Some of us may have what is called commitment issues, commitment problems or commitment fear - struggling to have close, intimate relationships without feeling the need to run off, escape. Having a commitment obsession that the relationship doesn't quite feel right may sometimes say more about us than the other. "Do we really want a long term relationship?" may also be a valid question. Whether or not we are in a relationship we may have a fear of lack of commitment, keep our partner hanging on in there. At certain times in relationships, things happen which can test us, bringing us up against how we really feel and how committed we are. We may not give our all. It can be as if our commitment in relationships and willingness to commit is tested. For some of us, we only have to hear the word "commitment" and we are looking for ways of dodging this or seek an exit strategy. Our fear of commitment (commitment phobia) can immobilise us and the weight of commitment may lurk and become all consuming. Scared of commitment in relationships, if we receive a hint, or are asked to commit, from this point on we may withdraw. Often one person can push for commitment, and the other can resist, as if we have no option but to repel this. We may have lost our own choice to commit, where choosing/deciding to commit from our heart is an ongoing practice. We may want meaningful commitment in a long term relationship or marriage, yet overlook that this involves fully relating, connecting. Some of us may be stuck in our head, struggling to open our heart to commitment or be emotionally available, live in the moment. If people come too close (or we get close), we may push them away. Yet also we may feel very lonely inside when alone so keep our options open. Believing (or "knowing") we ultimately won't commit or it will all end in tears, that we have more to lose if we commit, some may choose to sabotage our relationship (or seek out others) to avoid being rejected, especially when things are going well (or we hit a wobble). For example some of us can push or drive our partner away, push the self destruction button, so they can reject us. Yet we may end up losing the relationship anyway because of our fear. Stuck in our fear of committing ourself to the relationship or marriage, we may attack, fear conflict and withdraw, withholding our love, forgetting that love is also an action, and we may struggle to be loving and giving. Scared of love, our challenge therefore may also be about how to courageously love, feel safe with our partner, rather than remaining stuck, afraid of commitment and this can be considered in the commitment anxiety counselling and marriage counselling for commitment phobia in women and in men.
Anxiety About Commitment - Fear Of Commitment In A Relationship - Frequently Thinking Of Someone Else Or Others Some of us may be forever preoccupied with questions, "Are they the 'right one'?", "Would I be better off with someone else?", "Maybe another relationship will be more right?" Often linked to how we feel about ourselves (and the relationship we have with ourself), some of us may unconsciously choose partners, where it's not going to go somewhere. Yet being scared of commitment, scared of love, being controlled, having some sort of commitment fear may not be so much about others, but more about trusting ourselves, trusting our partner. It is said that commitment phobia in men is more prevalent than commitment phobia in women (which may be linked to some men's high sensitivity), and commitment phobia symptoms are not always easy to pinpoint. Just as we get close, we may hang back, not knowing they are the right person for us (or focus on our partner's imperfections). We may spend a lot of time comparing our partner with others (or even imagined future others), which may have its roots in our own self esteem, insecurities. We may imagine or start seeing someone else (always have someone else on our mind, in the background) or sabotage things. Others may have developed a pattern of wanting to end their relationship or find someone else whenever uncomfortable difficulties arise. Some of us may always need a secret escape route, have someone else in mind just in case things don't work out. We may have intrusive frequent sexual thoughts about others - having different sexual experiences, being with a "new or different body", which inhibit our decision to commit. For fear of missing out (FOMO), no matter who we are with it can be as if we're always yearning for "the other". We may hold that the grass is always greener, as if "They'll do until we meet someone better". When we are in the relationship we can never be satisfied (maybe seeking the ideal or perfect partner, forever wondering if there is someone better out there), continuously fantasising about or looking elsewhere, over the fence at others (this can be exhausting, weigh us down), yearning for fresh relationships or wanting to be single again. Yet when we are single, we may wish we are in a relationship again. (Adjusting from our single life to being in a couple, yet autonomous, can be challenging.) Frequently wanting what we can't have, we may also have problems committing, we may never quite find the right partner. Others may struggle to allow themselves to get over their ex or past relationships. Clinging on to elements of our past relationships, we may want to utilise the relationship counselling to explore any unfinished emotions. Endlessly searching for the right partner may point to our "magical thinking", that there is only one out there, that we will know and have no doubts. Yet our commitment doubts may need to importantly be worked through. We may fantasise, idealise other women, men. We may be in a continuous series of relationships, yet want something different after a while, which may also point to underlying commitment problems. Afraid of commitment, acting from our commitment phobia, we may experience a series of superficial relationships, "hooked" on the need to fill a sense of emptiness or void in us, and then using others to fill our void. Some of us may feel addicted to this pattern of (commitment phobic) behaviour, and we may struggle to experience our partner as more than an object to meet our desire for love. Some may have unacknowledged envy, jealousy or struggle to accept our partner's sexual history. These issues, alongside what we are longing, yearning for, where we put our energy and attention can be explored in the relationship psychotherapy, marriage counselling for commitment phobia in men and in women.
Commitment Concerns Around Intimacy, Love, Economics & Money Once we have someone in our life, we may pull back, have one foot out the door. Fear of love, fear of commitment or disappointment and affects both men and women, and can come out in different ways, e.g. become avoidant or dismissive (some with the take it or leave it attitude), be love avoidant, which may be linked to our esteem, confidence. Others may become preoccupied elsewhere in their relationship, feel resistant, ambivalent - "Am I in or out?" - where our ambivalence, procrastination may affect much of our life. Some commitment phobic men or women may fear love, doubt their capacity to love. Others may be in a double bind, we may want intimacy, yet fear it and fear opening up emotionally being vulnerable, surrendering when we need to, wanting loving commitment, yet needing to escape from it, "I can do it on my own", so we "hedge our bets". We may fear we may be exploited, abandoned, rejected or love will be unrequited. (Some may avoid intimacy by turning away from the loving relationship and towards pornography.) How and when to engage, disengage may also concern us. "Could I be more in love with someone else? Do I desire her, him enough?" may be questions we continually ask, yet more of a challenge to us may be nothing to do with our partner and more about us being courageous to take the risk of being loving and intimate ourselves, being willing to give and receive love, be in an interdependent relationship - a you, me and us, let go of what we need to, say "Yes" to love alongside the pain which comes with it (see also Our Painbody). We may fear falling out of love or doubt our ability to fully love - loving our partner the way they love us. Economic independence, money problems, challenges may concern us, especially if one of us has a money making focus, or is financially high maintenance. Commitment fear counselling and marriage therapy can help you with unpacking this, seeing what lays behind this, exploring bonding patterns in early years, looking at other alternatives, being in touch with, following our desire, so we choose our partner not based on fear but love.
Commitment Anxiety, Fear Of Commitment - Getting Hurt At the back of our mind, we may want to keep an escape route. Avoiding commitment in relationships may also be a protection against disappointment, life's impermanence (that our relationship will end sometime, so why bother?), the unknown. We may struggle accepting that there are no absolute, unequivocal guarantees that our relationship will last. Some of us may be very affected by our first or previous love not working out. (For fear of being hurt we may choose someone who is unlikely to leave us.) We may continue to hold on to our beliefs that love isn't safe, that it ultimately means loss of ourself (or the other). When it comes to commitment, we may feel like a child, coming from our wounded self (as if somehow we are programmed to fear relationships - that there is no point in them), we may believe that love isn't safe or means inevitable loss (of us or our partner). This aspect of us may need healing, so we are free to love ourselves and share our love with others. Afraid of commitment or scared of love, we can avoid the risk of not being sad, let down or indeed letting our partner down (which may be linked to our own esteem issues). Some of us can be scared of committing to a relationship for fear of being hurt or losing who we are or indeed losing them, because nothing lasts. This fear could spread to fear of dying. We may also fear being on our own or being dependent on someone else (maybe fearing they will leave us), yet at the same time need our autonomy, independence. We may wonder if we have not met the right person - the love of our life, or struggle to put our heart and soul into our relationship. We may not only have a fear of things not working, failing, but also a fear that they actually might work out, that our relationship, marriage may actually succeed, which can be explored in the relationship counselling. Deep down inside and fear-driven we may feel insecure, fearing that we have to leave our partner (or they us), because we may believe we are not a nice person. Choosing fear or love may be our dilemma, and it is this that can be included in the commitment anxiety counselling and relationship counselling.
Valuing the freedom of our singledom, we may loathe to give it up, want to cover ourself by keeping our options open, be half in our relationship and reticent towards commitment, parenthood (some of us may struggle to grow up). Especially for men, the masculine is regularly seeking release from constraint, towards freedom and how we manage the dilemma of being a separate self, letting go of this when we need to can be challenging as we open to love. Even when we are in (or have been in) a committed relationship, we can "forget" we have a partner or act as if we are single, without a partner, believing we will always be single. Our autonomy may be very important to us and we may want to keep our options open. We may not want any limits on our current lifestyle, and our commitment phobia can support this. Permanency of the relationship, dependency or monogamy can be scary for some, and we may find ways to make ourself unreachable. "I'm not quite ready" or "Not now" may be our broken record. We can avoid commitment or become "commitment phobic" for many reasons and inherit early destructive relationship patterns. Whether or not we are considering living together, marriage, when there is a relationship wobble or challenges along the way, we may struggle to stay in there, work things through "for better or for worse". Once we commit, our choice can be taken away. Valuing our space and free spirit, we may fear merger, enmeshment, engulfment - losing who we are, or the weight of expectation, as if it is a burden. We may question how we and our partner can be both strong, yet engaged in the art of compromising. (Some may be worry about providing - giving and receiving.) Struggling with the paradox of being on our own, yet part of something, getting in touch with what we really want for our life, may bring us up against our own existential issues. These important issues alongside ways we may avoid taking full responsibility (especially if a part of us doesn't feel grown up) can be discussed in the commitment anxiety counselling and relationship therapy. (See also Anxiety About Commitment, Fear Of Commitment, Fear Of Entrapment - Being Trapped)
Commitment Anxiety, Fear Of Commitment - Scenarios, Forecasting How Our Relationship Or Marriage Might Be We may value our personal life, fear losing this, be conflicted whether we should be in this relationship or not. Protecting this may be important for us. We may fear things will close down, be less open, forecasting other opportunities will pass us by. We may also have a healthy scepticism about how couples can simply live happy ever after, as if this happens by magic. Fearing the unknown or wanting perfection, with a strong need to be in control, we may look for flaws (testing them), reassurance or hold on to a range of other scenarios ("What if this? What if that?", "What is the right choice?"), which stop us committing or holding on to an ideal of a loving, lasting relationship, without this wavering. We may not have properly got over the effects of previous relationships or always think there is someone better around the corner. Choice can be a burden for some. Considering our choice with care may be challenging for us and others especially if we're prone to rumination. Insecure about our future, we may predict it will be stressful. Some may passively allow (yet feel uncomfortable inside) our partner to decide the direction of the relationship, marriage. Others may believe we are not good enough or lovable to be part of the couple in a committed relationship. Alongside our fear of commitment, we may question our ability to endure difficult times or provide what is necessary, that we may let our partner down. We may believe that true love means total acceptance, yet overlook that genuine commitment includes helping someone, the relationship evolve, grow. Relationship counselling and commitment anxiety therapy can be a space where these thoughts and fears can be investigated further.
Anxiety About Commitment, Fear Of Commitment, Fear Of Entrapment - Being Trapped Stuck in our "never know what will happen world", struggling to bear the unknown, we may worry, that if we choose to commit our self to one person, "settle down" or get married, things will be completely different, and we could be trapped, taken for granted, maybe in a loveless relationship, marriage. We may fear the effects on our finances, career, free will, free spirit. We may fear being trapped, losing our personal freedom, self-sufficiency, yet may also deny our own dependency needs. We may fear becoming trapped forever - that there is no way out, we can't walk away from our or our partner's problems. Fearing being stuck in an unhappy relationship, we may also fear having children or the prospect of fatherhood, motherhood (see also Being A Parent, Mutual Parenting, Co-Parenting). We may fear entrapment, believing that somehow our growth will be stunted. Valuing our freedom, not wanting to be tied down, we may believe if we make a commitment, it will stop us doing other things, seeing our friends, doing what interests us. In the security or safety of our committed relationship or marriage, we may wonder "Is that it now?", fear predictability, loss of spontaneity, vitality, being taken for granted, taking our partner for granted, losing our sense of curiosity about each other. Maybe being controlling ourself, we may also fear being controlled or getting into routines, which are deadening or losing our own important routines. "What's the point of commitment, because nothing lasts?" we may ask ourselves, so why bother? Yet life is impermanent (see also Reflecting Upon Our Mortality). Some, having thought or got what we wanted, may now wonder "Now what?", overlooking that nurturing the relationship, having further goals, communicating well, continues to enable the relationship to thrive. Some of our commitment fears, cold feet feelings, may date back to the role models our parents were for us and we may continue to hold false, unhelpful beliefs about love and relationships. Yet it is our very committed relationship, marriage that provides us with the opportunity to love, evolve, grow (see also Struggling To Grow Up). Eliminating our fear of entrapment, losing our freedom, may point to our need to develop freedom in our own life, choosing a partner who values their own freedom, wants to have freedom in the world. We can utilise the therapy about commitment issues to talk about anxiety about commitment.
Commitment Issues, Commitment Anxiety, Commitment Phobia, Fear Of Commitment & The Way We Think Terrified of commitment, or of losing ourself (or of losing our partner, especially if our own parents' relationship wasn't good or ended - see also Fear Of Separation, Loss, Rejection & Abandonment Issues), we may find reasons not to be with our partner ("Do I really love her/him?", "Are they the right one for me?", "Am I doing what I should do or want to do?", "Do I really want to be with her/him?", "Am I attracted to them?" - yet on the inside not feel very attractive in ourself). We may struggle to find our strong loving adult within so we can set limits when we need to, state our own needs. We may experience extreme neediness yet inside fear extreme closeness. Often we may tell ourself that our struggle with commitment is to do with the person we are with, yet often it is to do with ourselves, our beliefs about love and how we think. "What if I made a wrong choice, is this the right thing?" may occupy us. We may feel optimistic or sad in our relationship and convert that to binary thinking, polarising things, that the relationship is right/not right for us and the counselling for commitment phobia can explore this further. The therapy may explore our fears about what might happen if we commit and our negative or positive feelings, beliefs about "settling down". Some of us we may simply not be ready for commitment, to settle down, be serious, others, be running away from something, which can be explored in the counselling for commitment phobia. We may want to learn to rely on our self more, so we are strong inside. We may struggle to figure out what we want from a relationship - our relationship and therefore hold fuzzy boundaries. We may have been so attracted initially, that we have ignored signs that something may be amiss. We may be lonely, feel disconnected with our future partner. We may lack strong feelings towards our partner (or be used to closing off, shutting down or bottling things up), settling for them - that they will do, because they have come along at the right time. We may lack enthusiasm, feel reluctantly dragged into something and need to listen to this, exploring what this is about. We may be genuinely concerned about trying to fill a void, experiencing emptiness in us, basing our happiness on our partner, because of our own struggles to care for ourselves so the therapy may also explore not only what commitment means for us, but also the relationship and love we have for ourself, whether and how we are committed to our self, be there for ourself, don't abandon ourself.
Not Yet Ready, Genuine Concerns, Doubts Sometimes we may avoid commitment as an easy way out to avoid things in us that need resolving, and the counselling for commitment phobia may be a place to explore this. The relationship counselling and marriage therapy can also be a space where we can bring any niggling or genuine doubts and concerns about whether we are willing and want to commit or are making a "terrible mistake", struggling to be real, feeling like a fraud inside. Some of us may just not be ready. The therapy can be a space to explore how we respond to our personal doubts - unconnected to our partner (see also Life's Predicaments, Priorities, Paradoxes, Contradictions, Conflicts, Contrasts, Dilemmas, Ambivalence). Ruminating, many of our commitment doubts may have little to do with our partner and more about us (we may even blow things out of proportion or as an attempt to try to break up, in order to reinforce our doubts). We may also have a lack of commitment, because of genuine concerns about our relationship. Our "commitment issue" may also be about real doubts about the sustainability of our relationship, not just our fears. There may be strong indications that this relationship is not right for us (see also Nurturing Or Ending The Relationship). We or our partner may be preoccupied to conform for conforming sake (e.g. preoccupied in the marriage contract and wedding day, rather than seeing ourselves as we are and our actions, which demonstrate our commitment). We may have wedding nerves, wedding doubts. We or our partner may be more interested in how things seem, in gaining public approval, validation from the outside world, rather than committing from the heart, where there is an empty love with little intimacy, passion, desire (which may be more about us rather than our relationship). We may have led a very superficial relationship, we don't actually know our partner, nor do they know us. We may have based our commitment solely on sex (see also Sexuality). Our love may be absent. We may want our partner to be the one who ends the relationship. (See also Nurturing Or Ending The Relationship Or Marriage)
Commitment Issues Counselling, Avoiding The Risk Of Commitment Scared of commitment to loving someone or having some sort of commitment fear we may struggle to make that choice and procrastinate. Whether commitment is a feeling or decision may vex us. Holding relationship fears and anxiety, the agony of choice may be affecting us. Weighing up what we have and acting upon this may stretch us. We may struggle to say "No" or "Yes". Making a decision, deciding to live with it, can call upon our resources and personal responsibility. We may experience what some people call commitment phobia. We may struggle with competing interests, for example between investing our time in developing our career and nurturing our relationship - investing our full self into it. Some may want to look at how it is they prefer security to risking love. We may be trying to "get it" in our head, overlooking is from our heart and will - choice and decision we make. Some of us may fear being or falling in love (sometimes called philophobia) which pushes us away from committing (see also Relationship Dances - Pushing & Pulling), so we end up alone again. How we want to be in a satisfying relationship or marriage can be explored in the counselling, alongside our attitude to uncertainty - that whatever effort we put in, the relationship, marriage may not last, where we have the option of choosing love over fear. Seeking the courage to be real, love and trust, "claim our partner", be involved, building a space of "us" as a couple, creating a loving, trusting bond, letting go of insignificant things may be of importance. We may want to live a fulfilling and meaningful love life, be willing to not walk away, be loving, make love last and seeing our partner the way they are meant to be seen and loved. For some this may involve choosing to commit to one loving person in real and honest ways, being curious to learn about them. Being in touch with our desire and willingness towards making the relationship or marriage work may be important. The transition from boyfriend/girlfriend to husband/wife, or civil partnership, can present its own dilemmas. Some believe it can be just as meaningful living together for the long term, whether married or not. Others believe that pledging commitment as an act of faith can solidify the bonds together as a couple in private and public ways, that the oaths of marriage will be honoured. Fear of commitment in relationships or marriage commitment can also be known as gamophobia. What lays behind avoiding risking commitment, our inner life - how committed we are to our self, what moves us, what attitude, energy, beliefs do we hold, what we yearn for can be included the relationship counselling and commitment issues therapy for commitment issues, commitment phobia (see also Living Together, Relationship Commitment, Pre-Marital Counselling, Pre-Nuptial Counselling). Choosing and deciding commitment in our relationship or marriage, choosing our partner, can be influenced by many factors, including our acknowledgement that nothing lasts because of death, fear of dying...
Commitment is an act, not a word.Jean-Paul Sartre
Being Autonomous Yet Part Of A Couple
Personal Identity & Shared Identity As A Couple We may have a paradoxical longing for both intimacy and independence, closeness and space, a need for togetherness, to exist alongside our need for separateness. Being there for each other, having shared experiences, being close yet separate and different, may matter to us. What independence and coupledom means may differ between us and our partner, and there may be a dance between both of us - one of us being emotionally avoidant, the other emotionally dependent (where one of us may do the pushing and pursuing, and the other one - the pulling away and distancing). Expectations may be different and we may want to be clear about defining our own privacy, personal life and space needs alongside our differences as a couple. All of us have an optimal space preference, which fluctuates. Identifying and communicating this with our partner can support us, so we feel less squashed or suffocated, engulfed, enmeshed, and intimacy flourishes. In the times together (or apart), knowing we are loved and emotionally held, and that this is reciprocated, is usually of prime importance, as is retaining our own individuality and control. It may be important for us to know that love doesn't mean loss of us or our partner, that we are safe. These origins may come deep from our old wounds. Free from feeling needy or like a victim or martyr, we may also want be able to be able to risk our vulnerability, yet be empowered. How to connect, disconnect and reconnect in ways we feel comfortable may be important for us. The relationship counselling or marriage counselling can look at what your own identity, own autonomy means for us in our relationship or marriage and how this may affect any fear of commitment, fear of rejection.
The Relationship Space - Challenges Around Being Autonomous & Being Part Of A Couple It can be both wonderful and terrible that we can't seem to live without making deep connections with others. It may be challenging to appreciate what we as a couple have in common, as well as our differences (feelings, thoughts, beliefs, interpretations, assumptions, expectations, relating states, etc.) as we evolve individually and as a couple. Believing that our partner completes us, as if they are our "other half", can lead to enmeshment or a merging with our partner, struggles with our separateness and personal boundaries - what's mine, theirs and ours. Challenges may include how to be in a loving, intimate, fulfilling relationship, where there is mutual empathy, without denying our needs, being either too remote or emotionally needy - demanding of others' attention and time (being overly "clingy"), or how to give of ourself, yet remain empowered, where there is ever-changing space for me, you and us as a couple where each of us know we are held in the mind of the other. Being strong, emotionally connected, without forsaking ourselves, grounded, taking responsibility and care for ourselves, empowered and different in our separateness, so we don't have to forego ourselves, worry about losing or upsetting our partner, may be important, so we don't lose our personal freedom. Further challenges may be how to have a clear sense of who we are - holding on to this, in touch with our own difference, being able to tolerate our own discomfort, aloneness and loneliness, connections, disconnections, reconnections, soothe ourselves (not dependent on our partner doing this for us), being less reactive to our partner's reactivity. Being our self, individuated, and being with our partner, them too in in their separateness, individuation can be challenging. We may believe that if we individuate, we have to separate as a couple and no longer be together (see also Being Autonomous Yet Part Of A Couple). Some may worry that if we are so separate as a couple, we may end up in living parallel lives. Spontaneity may also be a concern. The art of compromise, pulling together each other's best interest yet with our own free will, free spirit remaining intact may be need. Marriage counselling and relationship psychotherapy can support you with your own struggles around these issues, including any commitment issues, worries about how to deal with rejection or our fear of love. We may also look at how loyalty and duty have their proper place, but do not become a straight jacket restricting us to flourish (where balance of dependence, independence, what is shared may be important), so we feel secure with both intimacy and autonomy, are in our own authority yet complement each other as a couple. The therapy may also explore the health of our relationship space - the importance of it being created by both people, whether it is unsafe, hard, dark, unforgiving, judgemental, full of fear or safe, open, warm, light, inviting, accepting, able to speak our heartfelt truths about ourself.
Differences Between Us & Our Partner
Acknowledging, Accepting, Embracing, Managing Our Differences In Relationship Accepting where others, our partner is at empowers them. How each of us experience things, view reality is different. It can be challenging yet enhancing of our relationship, when we acknowledge, accept, embrace our partner's differences. (And when we accept things as they are, it doesn't mean we have to surrender in resignation.) One or both of us may struggle with understanding, accepting, tolerating each others difference. Alongside any cultural, religious differences, we may have different sexual needs, behaviour, temperament, preferences, priorities. One may tend to be more optimistic, the other more pessimistic, one more introvert, the other - extrovert, yet these differences can work well for some, be the reason why we were attracted to each other in the first place, because each of us offer the other something lacking in us. The extrovert in us may enjoy the depth and quietness of our more introverted partner, while the introvert in us may enjoy the aliveness and social ease of our more extroverted partner. Understanding and accepting these inherent differences - supporting each other, can benefit the relationship, yet for some cause conflicts if we start judging each other. One of us may find detail important - the other prefers the bigger picture. One of us may tend to be more fluid, the other less so. Differentiating by identifying our own feelings, thoughts, values and desires, reflecting on these, enables us to know our self more. Congruently expressing these enables us to say who we are (see also Being The Person We Want To Be - Getting Back In Touch With Who We Are & Choosing Who We Want To Be). Yet as we do this, it also enables us to be more aware of our partner also being separate, different from us (see also Owning, Accepting What's Ours). Effectively responding to these differences with clear boundaries, may assist us. Enjoying, celebrating, accepting our differences as a couple, the synergy between us may be important. It can be challenging to find ways other than to argue, acknowledge and respect our partner's right and responsibility to feel, think and act along with their own their own desires and beliefs, even if we don't agree with them (see Our Sensitivities - Pushing Each Other's Buttons, Counselling London). Whether we are in a heterosexual or same sex relationship there may be further differences between us. One may be more led by our emotions, heart, the other our mind, intuition and it is how we respond to the impact on us of these differences which can be discussed in the marriage counselling and relationship therapy. Any cultural and religious, sexual differences between us and our partner may have its challenges especially when families take positions (see also Family Problems, Rifts, Estrangement, Inter-Cultural, Interracial Issues, Religious Differences, Sexuality). For some these differences, behaviours, traits, irritations, values, expectations and assumptions about the way things are done, or should be done, may be problematic or build up resentment, yet our partner's differences may be inherent. We may want to change our partner. They may struggle to acknowledge a problem. Empathy, compromise or love may be in short supply. Sometimes we can focus on our differences or choose love, demonstrate love where differences are embraced, celebrated. At times it can be as if we have love for our partner one moment and not the next. (Some may become scared of commitment, fear commitment or indeed have a fear of rejection.)
Differences Between Us One of us may believe that genuine love means complete acceptance of us, that we should be loved for exactly who we are, with all our faults, differences. Yet genuine love, commitment may be when our partner gently, kindly encourages us to be the best version of ourself, evolve, rather than accepting us precisely as we are. Because we are different, relationship at times can be challenging especially if we hold on to our "shoulds", "shouldn'ts", "oughts", "musts", "never", "always" beliefs. Not only do we change, but also our relationship inevitably transforms and some of us can be troubled by a specific relationship problem. What we expect from relationship may be different. One of us may not want to grow up or struggle to adapt (see also Relationship Expectations, Hooks, Triggers, Disappointments, Hurt, Attitudes & Roles - Counselling London). What we do in adversity - how we respond, may be our challenge. Relationship counselling and marriage therapy can support you and explore possible options, the essence of what is happening allowing for that because something is non-resolvable it doesn't mean the relationship is. (See also Crisis, Challenges, Changes & Transformations In The Relationship)
Responding To Our Differences When life is always easy, comfortable, ticking along, we don't necessarily grow, without stretching ourselves into unknown territory. When life flows and we are aligned with our partner, it can feel good. Yet when our partner is not on the same wavelength as us, we may struggle to tolerate these inevitable differences, maybe wishing they would change. (These differences may include one of us being neat, the other messy, one a morning person, the other the night person, different eating habits, political, religious beliefs, differing libidos.) Our challenge may be to learn from this so our relationship can grow. Some of us may look for someone, who on the surface seems similar to us, yet eventually differences arise and relationship conflict may result, usually not because of the differences, but due to how we respond to these differences in the relationship. We may struggle to accept the way our partner thinks or acts - if only they were more like us, we would be happier. We may hold on to a belief that it is up to our partner to make us more happy - to complete us, that our uncomfortable or difficult feelings would disappear and we would be happy. Clash of different perspectives, assumptions, unrealistic expectations, needs and values may present problems. We may allow some of these small details to divert attention from deeper issues or what's really important. We may want different things from the relationship. We may be holding expectations, disappointment, hurt or have contempt. Our love for our partner may continue to blow hot and cold. Some of us can regress, like bickering adolescents or children. It can be frustrating and exhausting explaining, arguing, defending, attacking, blaming, threatening or trying to persuade our partner that we are right, rather than compassionately feel our own (or empathise with our partner's) real heartache. We may struggle to learn how to disagree, accept some differences may be unresolvable, calmly communicate in ways which enhance our relationship without things turning into an argument, even over the small things.
Problems only get resolved, creative solution found when both in the couple are open to learn and have care towards each other so each feel safe and there is a possibility of win-win (rather than trying to control or the other loses, which would make them unhappy). We can either be judgemental, critical or choose to respond to our partner with curiosity, openness and a willingness to negotiate, which may not only avoid conflict in relationship, but enable us and our relationship to grow, expanding our tolerance, acceptance, yet at the same time taking responsibility for our own wellbeing, aliveness, passion. Healing the relationship may be important to us. Accepting our partner as they actually are, letting them be themselves instead of trying to control them, valuing each other's differences, may be challenging as well as finding a way towards relationship balance (see also Me, You & Us As A Couple). In our need for connection, closeness, love we may be trying to get our partner to see things the way we do, needing their complete support, understanding and affirmation - probably the same things as our partner needs. Our differences can be the very ingredients that bring about emotional connection. These issues can be included in the marriage counselling and relationship therapy.
Toleration In Our Relationship When things are difficult, with good intention some of us can be very tempted to rush in to fix things or try to please others, enter into a codependent relationship or attack, without acknowledging our own uncomfortable feelings or strong emotions. To tolerate things doesn't mean we have to remain silent and endure things. If our partner does something inconsiderate or unloving, do we attack or withdraw? Do we assume the worst or give them the benefit of the doubt? We have all done things that were thoughtless, unloving or inconsiderate and would have wanted our partner to understand, tolerate our mistakes, not hold them against us, but forgive us, validate us, without turning everything into a battlefield and how we engage can influence outcomes. Understanding our different relating states may also support us. Toleration may also mean tolerating our own uncomfortable feelings accepting each other's differences - finding common ground, compromising, accepting we are both autonomous and part of a couple (see also Sometimes when there are differences, disagreements). The relationship counselling can explore how we can remain anchored, stable in our self respect so we don't allow our wellbeing to be disturbed.
Healthy Boundaries & Resilience In Relationships
Respecting Each Other Once we are committed in our relationship or marriage, one or both of us may assume we have the right to know all of each other's business, knowing what's best for our partner, or telling them how they should be. Being different, separate and autonomous at times and articulating this can be challenging. Resentment, unhappiness and power struggles often emerge, leading to insecure and shaky foundations for the relationship. Loving and respectful boundaries can enable relationships to be built on firm foundations, so each partner is aware of the necessary lines to be drawn and how far we are allowed to go (see also Wanting Others To Respect Us & Respecting Others). Being clearer what's mine, what's yours and what's ours (including thoughts, beliefs, emotions, expectations - adjusting unreasonable ones), defining our boundaries can help us avoid enmeshment and co-dependency. What respect, and being in a committed relationship means for us and our partner, sharing each other's vision and how important this is, can be looked into in the relationship counselling and marriage therapy. (See also Respect For The World Around Us)
Resilience In Our Relationship, Marriage Some of us may hold grudges, quit difficult things when there is discomfort. Our resilience can protect our relationship from the effects of its challenges, stresses. Making our relationship, marriage more resilient may include taking responsibility and care for our own wellbeing: accepting us and our partner, Good communication and emotionally connecting every day, viewing adversity as a way of strengthening the relationship, keeping perspective and choosing optimism over pessimism.
Trying To Enforce Our Boundaries On Our Partner Being aware how we allow others to treat us may help us with setting our boundaries. Yet we may falsely believe that setting boundaries can enable us to control whether or not others treat us in ways we don't like. Our boundaries can only be set for us, not for others. For example if we tell people they can't treat us in a certain way, yet they do, we have tried to set boundaries for them, not for us. It can be challenging to accept we have no control of how someone else treats us, yet we do have control how we treat ourself and how we respond to the way others treat us. We may tell our partner they can't treat us this way or they should change, which can end up disempowering us. We may try to control our partner, withhold, withdraw (e.g. by not giving, receiving love), yet all these responses will diminish the loving relationship (see also When Our Partner Is Unloving). Accepting our differences, compassionately managing our own feelings of loneliness, heartbreak, helplessness, grief, may help us.
Boundary Setting Having some jointly owned "ground rules" and setting our boundaries can be a challenge, so they don't become like impermeable barriers or, on the other hand, too loose, yet flexible when they need to be, because our relationship is not only about us. Knowing when to draw lines as to what is acceptable and tolerable, to stand firm and when to compromise - bending our boundaries or dropping them, may support us. Regularly checking, reviewing how any rules, boundaries are working may support us, as may knowing our limits and where we stand. Some people can view personal boundaries as restrictive, with negative connotations and not the domain of relationships. They define us and our difference, and can vary in different situations. For example if we have a need for both space, closeness and intimacy in our relationship, it may need us to assert our personal space needs - the time and physical limits we set with our partner, so we are comfortable and emotionally freer. Another example may be not to get so drawn into our partner's emotions, that we should feel the same. Being caring yet remaining calm, when others are being emotional, may enable us to be receptive and support them. Once we set our boundaries, we may find it easier to negotiate our preferences with our partner, so intimacy becomes possible, conveying our message without attacking, blaming, being clear that it isn't about not caring for them, but is about how we best thrive and feel at ease. Conversely, we may be so intent at keeping our partner at arm's length, that the relationship lacks intimacy. This too can be a challenge for some. The level of commitment in our relationship may also need airing. Having our boundaries and setting them, the art of compromise can be explored in the marriage therapy and relationship counselling.
Boundaries Which Support Us Our boundaries enable us to take personal responsibility for our thinking, emotions, needs, will and actions, including what we say. Being clear to our partner about this may support us and our relationship. Our boundaries can also support us in not saying everything which is on our mind or always reacting to things immediately. Without healthy boundaries, and feeling resilient inside, we can look to our partner to meet all our needs, and make them responsible for our problems, or we may try to fit in with our partner's needs overlooking our own. Our boundaries are our own sanctity, defining who we are - our separateness within the relationship. They allow us to be ourselves, experiencing a sense of security and solidity. "I am I and you are you, and I am in relationship with you". They protect and guide us, enabling us to feel safe, e.g. by sometimes saying "no" to us or others and following our inner voice. Yet, when we need nurturing or love, we may need to let our boundaries down. And these issues, alongside any phobia of commitment we have, can be brought to light in the relationship counselling and marriage therapy.
Boundaries Which May Hinder Us Opening and closing, receiving, giving love and intimacy may be an issue for some. We may have healthy boundaries, which are firm and flexible. However, some of us may struggle in setting reasonable limits - boundaries, in our relationship with our partner, and indeed with ourselves. For some, our boundaries may be porous (we may for example have enmeshed our partner's needs with our own or vice versa). Others may put up walls of self-protection, have rigid boundaries. However, what protects us, may not always help. These walls can be constructed through our anger and fear (e.g. commenting "if you say that, I will explode"). We can also build our walls by passively disappearing into the background, preferring to observe rather than interact, withdrawing from conversations ("walls of silence" or "stonewalling" - see also Giving Or Receiving "The Silent Treatment"), or using continuous talking ("wall of words"). Especially if boundaries were inconsistent when we were growing up, it can be hard to set healthy boundaries and develop healthy relationships as adults. Relationship counselling and marriage therapy can help discover with you what boundaries are supportive and what aren't so we can change and grow in the relationship, marriage. How our boundaries affect our personal level of commitment can also be included in our work together. (For personal and sexual boundary issues see also Our Resilience, Hardiness & Protecting Our Personal Boundaries)
Fear Of Engulfment
Fearing Engulfment - Disappearing In The Relationship Sensitive inside, some of us want to let love in, share love, yet fear engulfment, entrapment, being controlled, overwhelmed, enmeshed, merged or our space being invaded, as if we are porous, ending up pushing others away or pulling away ourself, becoming love avoidant. Valuing our free spirit, we may fear being trapped, losing ourself in our relationship or become overly nice or compliant. We may also fear conflict, withdraw, withhold, disengage with our partner or close or shut down internally, deny our needs, struggle to openly give and receive, share love. For those of us who are sensitive it can feel as if our own space has been invaded, that we are smothered. Love in the past may have felt too engulfing (or conversely - love may have been scarce, so we may fear being engulfed, entrapped with love now) and we can't bear our own dependency needs. We may have a different pace or need for space to that of our partner. Fear of being emotionally needy may be a fear of dependency for others. In our fear of any engulfment, we may not want to take responsibility for, or be controlled by, our partner's neediness, own sense of worth and safety, yet have not vocalised this. (For some our fear of engulfment may point to struggles taking our space in the relationship, which can be explored in relationship counselling.) We may fear losing ourself - believing that we need to give our self up in order to get what we want, so by pushing others away, we (this wounded part of ourself) protect ourself from losing ourself. Yet needing love, compassion from others can make us feel vulnerable and scared of this we may pull away, push others away as a form of protection. We may need to let go of our judgements, listen to our own feelings, needs, find our own way of being compassionate, loving to our own inner child, so we are no longer dependent on another for this. Developing our own loving adult, so we no longer abandon ourself, fear rejection, abandonment, so we never lose our self, no longer fearing annihilation, death, setting healthy limits, so we are not engulfed, feel safe enough to open our heart and risk loving, making our desire for a relationship more important than our fear of engulfment, being centred in our own ground, powerful in our own right, may support us. The process of relationship counselling can explore how we can stay open with our own fears, feel safe in our own, inner space. (See also Losing Our Self In The Relationship)
Caught In-Between Fear Of Rejection, Separation, Loss, Abandonment & Fear Of Engulfment When we feel love, loved we may also feel fear - maybe linked to believing we are not good enough (in which we might end up withdrawing or attacking). Others may fear rejection, abandonment (loss of other), including loss of love through withdrawal, anger, death or fear of engulfment (loss of Self), including loss of self through being controlled, dominated, consumed, invaded, suffocated, swallowed up. These fears stem from childhood experiences and basing our self worth externally (see also Being Autonomous Yet Part Of A Couple). The relationship counselling can explore how we can feel safe with our partner in the way we need can create a lasting secure bond (see also Overcoming Fear Of Rejection, Fear Of Loss, Abandonment Issues). And some of us prioritise being safe from our fear of loss, rejection, engulfment, invasion, entrapment, so we get into a relationship with avoidant, unavailable partners. (Therefore feeling safe within may be a priority.) We may experience a continuous dilemma of wanting closeness and wanting our space alongside being caught between the fear of losing ourself or our partner. Those caught in-between states may point to states of dependence, independence, interdependence, codependence. Our strong loving adult may be able to decide that we would rather lose our partner than lose ourself and when this happens, our fear of engulfment (being sucked in, sucked dry, squeezed into a box, losing our self) may well diminish. Others may continuously be faced with wanting to end the relationship so we are no longer in turmoil of worrying about losing our partner or ourself, yet we may not have dealt with our deep fears, which may resurface every time we are in a relationship. And when we re-establish our existing relationship (or start a new one) when our partner opens up to us, our fear of engulfment returns, as if we are emotionally dancing out of step, in a push me, pull you pattern, so when we are in a relationship, we may fear engulfment, being trapped by intimacy and we are out of a relationship, we may fear aloneness, rejection. Wanting, yet fearing intimacy and maybe withholding, some of us may prefer to remain in some sort of fantasy dream world - reminiscing what could have been from past relationships, what might be in future ones, yet not be present in our current relationship. Others may be in a dilemma - on the one hand needing love, yet on the other feeling of being withdrawn. These responses may point to our attachment, relationship style including any separation anxiety. The counselling for commitment phobia can explore how by not taking rejection personally we, how else we can define our own worth, respond to this and experiences of being controlled, engulfed, so we can speak up for ourself, not allow others to invade, dominate us, overcome our fear that if we don't comply, we won't be loved, so we no longer allow our relationship to be driven by obligation or fear.
Fear Of Separation, Loss, Rejection & Abandonment Issues
Not Being All Of Who We Are, Risking Our Vulnerability, Choosing Our Partner Based On Fears Fear of rejection doesn't have to be just from our partner, it can be fearing all rejections. If something went wrong when we were younger, we may have felt rejected, abandoned, and continue to believe this will happen now in our relationship with consequences (see also How We Dealt With Separation, Loss & Rejection In Our Early Years). This can stop us fully being our self, living. In our fear of abandonment, struggle to deal with rejection, we may often imagine worse case scenarios or choose inappropriate relationships if we fear being alone. Rejection hurts and can be painful, affecting our wellbeing and can last a lifetime if we struggle to overcome our fear of rejection, abandonment. Being hurt or unable to let go (maybe from a past relationship), putting up walls, we may vow never be so vulnerable again. Fearing others will leave, scared of love, fearing love or commitment we may struggle to risk being ourself, real, asking for what we need. Paradoxically we may want to be seen and met, yet fear being seen as trusting or vulnerable, e.g. "As soon as I make myself vulnerable, I fear abandonment". Some of us can fear rejection so much, that it is on this basis we choose someone, because we believe they won't leave us (often trying to please them or try to make them dependent on us - not because of a deep connection or compatible qualities). Afraid to lose them, we may avoid risking ourselves in an intimate relationship for fear of being used or taken advantage of. Others may choose to turn inwards, become depressed or numb our feelings, get angry, as a form of protection, yet we may have rejected, abandoned our self. (See also Choosing Our Partner)
Fear Of Loss If the trust, stability and foundation of our life is based on sharing it with our partner - the security, love and warmth of our relationship, based on our dependency needs we may understandably fear loss - losing someone, loss of them to someone else and this can touch upon feelings of jealousy them dying. This can be related to , our own fears of an unknown future, rejection, abandonment, death. Our feelings can be compounded by unresolved mourning.
How We Dealt With Separation, Loss & Rejection In Our Early Years Every human being has had to deal with being left behind, separation, loss and rejection, both in their early years as a child (see also Relationship Style, Attachment Patterns), and through adulthood in relationships with others. (Also, if our parents relationship was not good, or it ended, we may understandably fear loss, separation in our own relationships.) We continue to experience large and small rejections throughout our life. How to deal with rejection is something usually not taught. When younger, others may not have been present, ignored us, didn't "see us", as if we weren't important or valued and we may have felt left behind, rejected, not good enough and take these "not good enough" beliefs into our relationship. In our past we may also have felt singled out and became isolated. As a child, we may have avoided saying "No", fearing rejection or withdrawal of love. That burning, sinking feeling we have inside, devastation, when we were intensely sad, we may never want to repeat. Yet we may have closed off around others, magnifying our aloneness, loneliness. We may have learnt to avoid the hurt or pain of our heart breaking. We may have given ourself up to avoid rejection and continue to do this now in our life. How these early issues of abandonment, rejection continue to impact upon us now (see also Abandoning Our Partner & Us In The Relationship) and other alternative ways of responding, so we deal with rejection in healthier ways, can be explored in the relationship counselling and marriage counselling. Learning to nurture ourself and care for others, so feeling rejected or lonely doesn't overwhelm us, may be a challenge. (See also Source Of Our Relationship & Attachment Style)
Responding To Experience Of Loss, Separation, Rejection, Abandonment In all relationships we will feel rejected. How we respond to this is in our hands (see also Learning Not To Take Rejection Personally). Loss, renewal, change, transformation happen throughout our life - the seasons, sunrise and sunset, partings, separations, endings, beginnings, births, deaths, rebirths. Triggered by previous rejection experiences, feelings of abandonment, it can be challenging now to accept separation, loss, rejection, understanding that it's rarely personal (even in our relationships) and some of these feelings may be connected to how we dealt with separation, loss and rejection in our early years. Taking rejection personally often comes from our wounded self. Sometimes all we (our loving self) can do is appreciate our own courage to put ourselves out there in the first place, acknowledge and process all our associated emotions and affirm our own value, worth. The therapy can also explore the aspect of our Self, beyond our ego, defensive roles, where from this disidentified essence of who we are, nothing is personal.
Fear Of Rejection Now - Making Ourselves "Rejectable" No one wants to be rejected and rejection can be something we fear the most. It can be challenging to accept that rejection hurts, to remind ourself that often it has nothing to do with us personally, to not be so hard on ourself, be compassionate to ourself. Because of our fear of rejection, we may analyse everything, thinking of strategies, be looking for problems with things, signs of our partner being distant or uninterested, which can become like an avalanche cascading down on us, yet we can misread, misinterpret the signs and end up trying to subtly or explicitly control our partner. Some of us may fear upsetting or annoying others, our partner or may frequently seek from others approval, affirmation, reassurance, recognition, validation, appreciation, praise, permission and confirmation. Fearing rejection, abandonment, we may reject the other before they reject us. Some of us may isolate ourself, others may try to be perfect, agree with everything, please others. As if feeling not good enough inside, some of us may set up relationships, so we get rejected again and again, as if to prove we are "rejectable" (see also Sabotaging Things In The Relationship Or Marriage). We may find ways to test our partner or push them away to see if they reject or abandon us, be scared of love, yet also want this (see also Getting Our Basic Dependency Needs Met In A Healthy, Loving Relationship). We may end up rejecting the very people we want to let in, walking away, withdrawing, withholding to pre-empt them rejecting, abandoning us (assuming they will) by being closed, starting an affair or even try to end the relationship first, before they can reject us. Concerns about how to deal with rejection may also get in the way of establishing a relationship with commitment. Our envy or jealousy may play a part. Others may choose to totally immerse themselves in looking after others, setting themselves up as depended upon, in the hope that they are not rejected. We may give up, close down, or do a whole range of other things to avoid rejection. Relationship counselling and marriage therapy can investigate ways of overcoming our continuing fear of rejection, abandonment issues, so we can deal with our rejection fear in a positive ways, remember we are worthy and move out of our rigid codependent state.
(S)he whose love has always been reciprocated does not know the real feeling of love.Inayat Khan
Self-Rejection For many of us it can seem as if there are two sides of us - a competent, loving person and fearful, needy side that can take over (for example the rejection and abandonment that we fear we can make happen in our relationships - see also Lonely in The Relationship, Marriage). We may give ourself up or away for fear of losing another. Some of us can reject ourselves through our self-judgement, criticism. We may struggle to accept and value ourself, our sensitivity and self-consciousness without judging them. Even though on the outside we may not show this, others may pick up the energy of our self-rejection (or internalised unattractiveness), and then we end up attracting rejection. As soon as we get close to someone we may feel vulnerable, tempted to sabotage things so we don't get too close, commit. Noticing the subtle ways we reject or treat ourselves (as if somehow we aren't good enough), and stopping doing this, may be important. Some of us may have a negative sense of ourselves and negative model of others and this can be explored in therapy. Fearing abandonment from our partner, a challenge may be to stay present to what we are feeling (e.g. anxious, low, guilty, ashamed, alone, angry, rageful, numb, distant, critically self-conscious), no longer rejecting our own intrinsic worth or abandoning ourself and our own inner child.
As we accept ourselves, so too will others.
Overcoming Fear Of Rejection, Fear Of Loss, Abandonment Issues Inside we may feel anxious about impermanence, a future which is unknown and we may need to explore this further in the counselling. Because our fear of loss, rejection (which may be linked to early bonding patterns, how we were/weren't held, touched, unresolved mourning), some of us may choose partners who are unavailable or we find ways to drive them away. Rather than face our fear of loss, fear of rejection, abandonment, engulfment, we may stay in relationships, when love is unrequited and the relationship therapy can explore this further. No one likes being rejected and most of us have been hurt in relationships. We may feel stuck inside and some of us may not have made the time to mourn our past hurts, pains, betrayals, or heartache. This can get in the way with how we deal with rejection now, as we or our partner continue to leave relationships. Each broken relationship leaves a mark on us, however small and we may want to utilise the relationship and marriage counselling to talk about the effects of these past relationships, so we are freer to be in our current one now. Accepting the rejection and other people's choices isn't easy, nor is understanding that rejections are rarely personal, especially when we come from our personal power, so when we no longer take rejection personally, we stop fearing it. The effects of previous and worries of possible future relationships may stop us fully committing or opening our heart now, and we may experience a similar level of woundedness (or need) in the people we attract, yet our very relationships can offer the potential to heal our patterns of leaving relationships or others leaving us. Unless we learn to manage our possible heartbreak and helplessness, we may push away love in our life and others because of our fear of loss (see also Neglecting Ourself, Our Relationship Or Marriage). When someone close to us has just died, this can also be also triggered by our fear of rejection, abandonment, loss. Our fear of rejection, abandonment may never entirely go away, yet we can learn to manage this (rather than rush in to fix or please others or become a caretaker in the relationship). Our fear of rejection may point to how we rejected our self. We may want to have control over not feeling the pain of our own self-abandonment. No longer abandoning ourself may be important, so we let go of our belief that someone out there can make it all right for us, that we not only take our barometer from what others need (without necessarily over-giving), but also from what we need. Our sensitivity to separation, loss, abandonment issues, fear of rejection and commitment phobia may date back to early connections and bonding patterns, affecting our self-worth and contribute to our fear of being alone, loneliness, and limit our way of flourishing in the world, and how we engage. It may be important for us to know that we are OK if we feel rejected, abandoned. We may also fear our partner dying, have a fear of death, dying. Being caring and trusting, being loving to ourself, coming to terms with our existential loneliness, may be our biggest challenge as may loving well and grieving to completion. Relationship counselling and marriage psychotherapy can help by looking at healthy ways to cope with our fears of rejection, reduce our dramas, be willing to lose others, which can counter-intuitively free us, manage our own dependency needs, so we don't act them out on us or through our partner, feel calm, safe, courageous in the relationship, are loving, learn what we need to learn through the experience of our relationships, have the courage to ask for what we need.
Little Rejections To lovingly manage rejections (big and small), not taking them personally can be challenging. Small rejections occur throughout our life and getting used to them and managing them can test our sensitivities, emotional resilience. Innocuous mannerisms, looks in others, lack of eye contact and not being seen by others - even strangers, may affect us. Sometimes we may mistake our partner walking away from a situation, as if they are walking away from us. We may also look at ways of not taking rejection so personally, as if there is something wrong with us, so we deal with rejection in positive ways. Being centred in our own ground, congruent, choosing to speak our truth, expressing our needs may support us.
Relationship Dances - Pushing & Pulling
Pursuing & Distancing (Pulling & Resisting) - What May Be Going On Inside In The Dance Between Us A healthy relationship needs a flow of both closeness and space - being in our own space, and negotiating this can be challenging for some couples. A familiar controlling dance between us can be where one of us is emotionally avoidant, the other emotionally dependent. Overly needy inside, maybe fearing rejection, one of us may want to have control over the other, while the other resists. And when controlling and not being controlled becomes the intention behind our relationship, marriage, it makes it hard for it to thrive. The one who distances - pulls away may fear heartbreak and in our helplessness over this, we may end up withdrawing love away through our fear of loss. And taking things so personally we can lose a deeper connection with our partner and the pushing and pulling may also occur sexually. The one who pushes may overtalk or pressure the other to give what they need to give to themselves. And when we feel or fear being pulled upon, we often resist (see also Unrequited Love, Lovesickness) - fearing or feeling invaded, engulfment, entrapment. We may pull away, withdraw or abandon ourself. These circular patterns of responding may become the norm (where one of us pursues emotional connection, while the other may stonewall, withdraw or try to placate - maybe in an angry, critical manner). The relationship may become high maintenance. This pattern of relating can become like a downward spiral unless transformed (see also Painbody Examples, Experiences In Relationships). Some may have developed a codependent relationship. It can be challenging for us not to take responsibility for our partner, when they are pulling on us, keep our heart open, be present and not lose ourself, be autonomous, yet be part of a couple. Coming from fear and our wounded selves, rather than our love, both of us may struggle to take responsibility for our own feelings. Often it can become clear in our relationship, marriage as to who is doing the pushing (pursuing) and who pulls away (distances). A pattern may now have developed (see also Relationship Style, Attachment Patterns) when one person pushes the other pulls away as if two opposite poles of a magnet, are enforced, and the more we pull away, the more the other pushes and this may led to eventual detachment from the relationship, marriage. Other dances between us may include:
The Way We Relate With Each Other (see Relationship Choreography, How We Engage - Styles Of Relating, Relating States)
Where One Of Us Frequently Disappears, Cuts Off (see Breadcrumbing, Disappearing Act, Vanishing Act, Ghosting)
Imbalance Of Giving, Receiving, Sharing One partner is the giver, the other the taker. The counselling and psychotherapy can explore how we feel treated by our partner (for example we may have an emotionally needy partner pulling on us to fill them up, fix them, who expects us to give ourself up to take responsibility for their needs, feelings) and how this may be a mirror for how we treat ourself.
Dance Between An "Energy Radiator" & "Energy Sucker" (see also Empathy For Others, Our Partner)
Dance Between Victim, Persecutor, Rescuer A push and pull drama triangle may also be playing out in the guise of victim,persecutor, rescuer.
Pulling & Resisting Coming from an empty place or needy little boy/girl - wanting to get love, one of us may pull for validation, attention, approval, sex (see also Compartmentalising Sex, Cycle Of Sexual Dissatisfaction - Staying In Our Head Or Overly Focused On Sex, Lust, Climax, Orgasm, Speed, Outcomes, Performance, Techniques, Goals, Positions, Genitals, Stuck In Over-Familiar Roles), through being overly nice, pleasing, caretaking, offering gifts, withdrawing anger or blame (see also Insecure Attachment - Our Ambivalent Or Resistant Style Of Attachment/Relating (Becomes Preoccupied Style Of Relating Or Anxious Attachment Style As An Adult)), which is sensed by our own partner as manipulative. Picking up these energies, our partner goes into resistance (see also Insecure Attachment - Avoidant Style Of Attachment/Relating (Becomes Dismissing Style Of Relating As An Adult)) and both may struggle to speak their truth.
Relationship Between Someone Who Is More Of An Empath & Someone Who is More Narcissistic A parasitic dance and potentially abusive dynamic between one of us who is an empath and another who tends to be narcissistic can occur when the empath becomes the perfect host for the narcissist, supplying their egotistical needs, where the narcissist holds the power and the empath can feel victimised, powerless. The empath in us may want to be truly seen by our narcissist partner, tying our self-worth to this. What feels like authentic love and connection, heightened bonding from the narcissist can be confusing for the empath. The challenge for the empath may be to strengthen our sense of self, heal our own wounds, connect to our shadow, set boundaries and walk away, refusing to take in the projected feelings (e.g. worthlessness, shame) of the narcissist (who tends to move on to the new host when the empath asserts themselves), whose own challenge is also to connect to our own feelings, wounds, shadow. If we are a caretaker, we can be attracted to self-centred people, who are takers, and we can be addicted to fixing others yet ignore ourself. (Conversely, if we feel empty inside, we can be attracted to a caretaking, vibrant person. If we are an angry, controlling person, we can be attracted to people who give themselves up or people who are very resistant (and this can also work in reverse).
When We Pursue, Push Both partners may fear closeness, intimacy, yet go about it differently. When someone is pulling on us and comes against our resistance, they may pull even more and we may struggle to keep our heart open, articulate that this "pulling" doesn't feel good for us (or our partner who may feel encroached upon), that we would like to have loving relationship with them yet not take responsibility for their feelings. As if at opposite poles at times, one person may pursue closeness, the other be experienced as remote or cold. One of us may be extremely needy, maybe through fear of rejection, the other fear closeness (chase or be chased). Or one of us may have an avoidant, dismissive style of attachment/relating and the other a more ambivalent, resistant style of attachment/relating. Receiving, giving and sharing love may be out of balance. One of us may give a lot, yet choose un-giving partners (see also Codependency (Co-Dependency) - Caretaking). Others may have come on strong at the beginning of our relationship, believing we have found the right one, and yet when our partner reciprocates we may pull back just as strongly, lose interest. Later on we may again become more interested when our partner pulls back, and if they start showing interest again, we pull back again. In many relationships on the surface there tends to be a pursuer - one who is certain in their love feelings (with their fear often hidden). And empty inside, it can be as if we mistake searching and longing for love. We may desire to be with a person, who doesn't walk away, is loving and seeing us in the way we are meant to be loved, seen, yet it can also be what we don't want.
You can't push a rope.Old Saying - Source Unknown
When Our Partner (Or Potential Partner) Distances, Pulls Away The counselling and psychotherapy may explore how one of us has a greater need for connection than the other, how we can tolerate these differences, be curious and loving. The distancer in our relationship may fear rejection or abandonment and therefore move away from it, maybe sabotage the relationship. Others may distance themselves scared of love, touch their shame when they feel loved, struggle to give, receive, share love, unable to reciprocate love, be love avoidant, not easily express our loving feelings, attraction (especially if we feel unattractive inside ourself), as if they are the only one carrying the doubt on the surface. The person distancing may numb feelings, close off, shut down, bottle things up, prefer long distance relationships. Meanwhile the pursuer in us may ironically feel safe, when the distancer has put up walls of protection, and it can sometimes be when our distancing partner begins to overcome their own fears, that we become in touch with our own fears of intimacy.
Breadcrumbing, Disappearing Act, Vanishing Act, Ghosting We may be in touch with certain people, friends, who enjoy contact, maybe flirt, yet have no intention of taking the relationship further - breadcrumbing. Living as if only they count, sometimes someone in our lives (not necessarily a partner) shows indifference (which can be viewed as the opposite of love), becomes "incommunicado" - what has sometimes been called ghosting - a passive aggressive act, which can especially occur through online dating. It can be as if we are given the silent treatment and this prevents us from expressing how we feel which can erode our esteem. And ghosting can be defined as when someone we believed cared about us abruptly disappears from contact without explanation - they were in our life intensely at times and simply dropped out of it (see also Early Destructive Relationship Patterns). They may do this for a variety of reasons - not understanding how they feel, therefore struggle to talk about this, avoid their emotional discomfort, intimacy, fear their dependency needs or separation, loss, abandonment, rejection, engulfment, have an ambivalent relationship style, difficulty being honest, authentic, giving, receiving, sharing love - not just in the short term, saying "No". The person on the receiving end may feel disrespected, disposable, or used and this can be experienced as traumatic. We may also feel betrayed, bruised, scared, powerless perplexed with a lack of closure. It can feel painful and we may question, what did we do, why we didn't see this coming or wonder why we were such a poor judge of character. Keeping our energy focused on what makes us happy, busying ourselves with activities, supportive friendships, can support us. It may be important to remember that when someone ghosts us that it says nothing about us, our worthiness for love but it does say a lot about the person doing the ghosting - that they may not have the courage to deal with uncomfortable emotions in themselves or us, that they may not care or not understand the impact of their behaviour. Rising above this, retaining our dignity and letting them go (knowing that if we aren't treated with respect and dignity that the ghoster may not be for us or on the same wavelength) may enable us to move forward so we don't have to shut ourselves off from other relationships or hide our vulnerability (keeping our heart open) and focus forward looking. (See also Sabotaging Things In The Relationship Or Marriage)
Sabotaging Things In The Relationship Or Marriage
Relationship Self-Sabotage, Destruction One of us may have a pattern of sabotaging things in our relationship, marriage unconsciously or even seeing ourselves doing this, yet feel unable to stop as if something inside of us is doing this. We may push our partner to breaking point, be in touch with our dark side, attracted to destroying the relationship, maybe through pre-empting our own fear of loss, rejection, abandonment by rejecting them first (see also Relationship Fears, Fears In Our Relationship, Marriage). Sometimes we may test our partner to see if they are strong,what we want them to be, challenge them to see how far we can go, yet we may not know when to stop,which can bean indirect way of avoiding asking for what we need. Some of us come to relationship counselling to look at the roles we take in our relationships and maybe explore ways how we may personally sabotage things. Some of us may try to fix things, please our partner, or attack, as a way of sabotaging intimacy. We may have fallen into habits that seem out of our control, where we end up sabotaging our relationship or marriage, yet not know why we do this (see also Repetition Compulsion). We may have powerful emotions towards our partner, which we can't bear. Yet these emotions are inside us, and many of them have nothing to do with our partner. (Some of our emotions, motivations, may be unconscious.) In our sabotaging behaviour, we may for example adopt opposite feelings, behaviours and impulses to the ones we intended. Somehow anxious inside, we may for example push away people closest to us, or deflect from intimacy. We can act towards our partner in the same way we would treat our worst enemy. Struggling to find or express love to our partner, or to acknowledge how important our partner is to us, rather than express this appreciation or love, we would prefer to hide it, fight, withdraw, do anything to avoid our anxiety of not having our partner around. We may not be able to believe we are loved or can love, and may find sabotaging ways to destroy love. Some of us may hurt or provoke or partner, testing them (e.g. if they still love us or would leave us - even trying to make them leave us). Fearing commitment, although we don't want our relationship or marriage to be destroyed, a part of us may also want to destroy it. This may also point to a fear of love, struggles of how to deal with rejection. Love may be elusive for us, and we may sabotage things very early in our relationship (see also Breadcrumbing, Disappearing Act, Vanishing Act, Ghosting).
Living Together, Relationship Commitment, Pre-Marital Counselling, Pre-Nuptial Counselling
Living Together, Committing Ourself To Our Partner, Pre-Nuptial Counselling, Pre-Marriage Counselling There is one thing to date someone and a very different thing to decide to live together. Whatever our sexual orientation, choosing our partner to share our life with someone, entering into a long term relationship, maybe considering getting married (or entering into an arranged marriage or one where there are difficult cultural/religious challenges, family rifts) is a big decision and reflecting upon the positive and negative aspects of our relationship thinking through what it means to be a partnership, cohabit, commit to one another may be important for us. Anxious, we may have second thoughts or have certain commitment concerns which can be explored in the relationship counselling (see also Life's Predicaments, Priorities, Paradoxes, Contradictions, Conflicts, Contrasts, Dilemmas, Ambivalence). We may wonder "if all of me will be acceptable to you, or even to myself". Can we fully accept our partner as they are, that we are unable to change them may be something we ponder. We may be questioning if we are compatible or incompatible with our partner, or believe that by living together, marrying our problems will disappear. "What does marriage offer us that we don't already have?" can be a useful exploration. Some may be understandably nervous, or have concerns about getting married, and may want to use the marriage counselling and premarital counselling as a soundboard to discuss and review these in more detail.
Sharing (Not Necessarily Agreeing With) Each Other's Vision Of The Kind Of Deep & Meaningful Relationship, Marriage We Really Want Successful relationships don't just happen, they are the result of taking physical, emotional, sexual, financial, spiritual and organisational responsibility for ourselves (see also Abandoning Our Partner & Us In The Relationship), otherwise our relationship in these areas may become high maintenance. It may be important to find time, the right mutual attitude without wanting to change the other, with our prospective partner, to talk openly about beliefs, intentions, expectations of a shared future together (see also Towards Making The Relationship Or Marriage Work). We may want to talk about/share our ambitions, dreams and values, attitudes to certain things including the business end of things - like functions of money and bread-winning, financial and non-contributions to the household, house keeping, admin duties, whether children are wanted, how they would be raised. It may also be helpful to explore how we resonate, build a relationship together, create a loving trusting bond, what we are implicitly and explicitly "signing up for" in looking for a lifelong partnership, alongside accepting, embracing our differences, that we won't always be understood, acknowledging that we don't have to agree on everything. A willingness to have awkward, difficult conversations can allow love to flourish. Putting words to things, asking for what we need, speaking our own courageous truth about important issues in order to establish the building blocks of our relationship can help, underpin the ground for us as a couple, be in a deep, meaningful, satisfying relationship, commit and learn to live together, grow and also for pre-nuptial counselling, premarital counselling. We may want to consider:
- What it means to lose our single life
- Adjusting to a committed relationship, married life
- Do we want a relationship of convenience, a relationship of evolution
- Are we coming from our wounded self, adult self
- How do we know when a relationship is right for us
- What is the atmosphere between the two of us like
- Can we be fully ourself & accepted by each other
- Do we want to change our partner
- Any false beliefs about our sense of aloneness disappearing because we will be sharing our life together, married
- What "happily ever after" means for us
- Certain inhibiting beliefs, e.g. that it is our partner's responsibility to make us happy, to complete us
- Checking out each other's relationship expectations, assumptions
- How would we like to respond to each other's illness, sickness
- Our attitudes, behaviour towards alcohol, drugs, pornography, any unhelpful habits, addictions
- Work-life balance
- Creating a space for both to communicate well
- The basis we form our relationship, marriage, on
- How we would like to see the direction of our relationship, marriage. What sort of relationship, marriage do we want
- What are our real goals of the relationship - ones that enable our relationship to be strong, thrive, flourish & reminding ourselves that the journey matters more than the destination
- What fears, fantasies, hopes we have about a long term relationship, married life
- What are our deepest desires for the relationship, marriage & have they been articulated
- What roles do we take on, avoid. What roles do we imagine we & our partner will have in a long term relationship, marriage and does this feel good.
- Does our partner accept us, really see "get us", do we really see, accept them, "get them" (see also Accepting Others, Situations)
- What is different about each other. What is shared. Addressing our differences in lifestyle, culture, traditions, religion (see also Family Problems, Rifts, Estrangement, Inter-Cultural, Interracial Issues, Religious Differences, Sexuality)
- How much closeness/space we need - our sense of our separate identity & identity as a couple, a me, you, us (see also Being Autonomous Yet Part Of A Couple)
- Partnering ourself, so we can be a partner to our spouse
- What cements our relationship, marriage yet allows us & the relationship to be flexible, change what needs to change
- Being willing, loving to resolve things, evolve
- How to be strong as a couple in all our different roles - partner, lover, companion/good friend, parent
- Do we have a solid, deep, authentic emotional connection
- How do we share our feelings, listen to the other
- Are our basic dependency needs met
- Is there intimacy, trust
- Doing what we say we will do
- What it means to feel, show, hide our vulnerability, tenderness, fragility. How are we there for each other, hold the space when vulnerable, be supportive, protect each other - have each other's back when we need to.
- Acknowledging our own, unique peculiarities, quirks, "mad", "crazy bits", "mental wobbles", the ways in which we might be difficult to live with
- Allowing ourselves to be curious about each other, learn about each other
- Understanding & articulating our own needs, differences, what makes us happy, how we feel about change, compromise & what happens when one of us doesn't acknowledge a problem
- What enlivens, deadens the relationship
- Clarifying what we feel comfortable with, what is appropriate, understood, agreed around being in contact with our friends (see also Emotional Affairs), ex, monogamy, flirting, sexting, envy, jealousy, financial arrangements, duties, chores (including shopping, cooking, washing up, cleaning, laundry, etc.), responsibilities.
- Exploring our illusions of safety & what keeps us safe & secure in our relationship, marriage, yet grow with our partner - honouring us as a couple, prioritising, protecting the couple and relationship.
- Clarifying what's sacrosanct in our relationship, discussing our red flags, red lines, including what happens when one of us experiences sexual attraction, desire for others (see also Seeing Someone Else, Affairs, Infidelity, Cheating In Our Relationship).
- How we like, enjoy, touch, be touched
- Do we choose to live from our fears or our love, potential as a person & couple
- Having a strong, realistic foundation for when challenges, differences, disagreements, conflicts occur
- What (spoken and unspoken) assumptions, expectations are made including our wants, hopes, desires & what happens when they don't match.
- How do we share our time together & now much time do we expect to spend together (see also Work Stress Counselling, Burnout Counselling London)
- How we show our affection publicly - public displays of affection (PDA)
- The qualities we value & each bring into the relationship, our different & shared values
- Being open, honest, how we speak. Having heart to heart, soul to soul communication. How to speak our truth & how this sits with fear of disappointing, hurting, upsetting or annoying our partner.
- How do the issues of power & control play out in the relationship
- How decisions affecting each other are arrived at
- Who makes most of the effort in the relationship & in what ways. What is shared.
- What would a really satisfying, lasting, loving relationship look like, feel like
- How do we live, enhance the positive aspects of our relationship
- What promises we are willing, unwilling to make, honour
- What it means to develop a lasting relationship or marriage
- Setting our intention to how we want the relationship, marriage to be
- What holds & binds us as a couple
- How do we give, receive, share love, practice and maintain unconditional love
- How do we cherish each other, appreciate what both of us bring into the marriage, and how we openly show our gratefulness, gratitude and appreciation
- Are we both able to be empathic
- Are we both able to easily forgive
- Are we kind to ourself & each other
- Do we feel, express love, feel loved
- What does a mature, self-aware, loving relationship mean for us
- How the relationship, marriage can grow & flourish
- Children, parenting alongside our ageing parents
- Being together as a couple - widening our perspective of romantic love
- Our emotional connection
- Our sexual connection & our willingness to explore, express our sexuality together
- Honouring what's sacred between us
- Our spiritual life
A Framework For Regular Couple Check-Ins Our relationship with our partner is a never ending engagement. Some couples have found that mentalising - being aware of and reflecting upon each others mental and emotional states, spending regular, quality time together, having structured, couples meetings can be a platform to energise communication. It helps for both to hold a positive attitude, suspend any criticism, blaming, bitterness, moralising (leaving our defences behind), in a protected, valued space often away from the home, without interruptions. This can also keep the relationship thriving - be a space where we are willing to speak our heartfelt truths with candour, and openness where we each honour, respect and really listen with an open heart to each other, so we are accurately heard and understood. When we are open to learning about each other (without wanting to change the other), with calmness, where kindness, and both parties are collaborative - supporting each other to be the best versions of ourselves, even if what we say or hear is uncomfortable, challenging. We can individually and mutually grow as a couple through having these check-ins. We may need to prepare the ground, open up the space, create the conditions, set the scene, be aware of our and our partner's mental and emotional state, to allow for mirroring them so they know they've been listened to and heard, validating them that we've understood and made sense of what we heard, are empathic to each other. Topics to include may range from:
- Our ground rules as a couple (and how to repair, redirect things)
- How we communicate, personal check-ins (with our partner mirroring back to us what they have heard)
- Differences, disagreements
- Household, including maintenance, cleaning, shopping, cooking, etc.
- Administration, money, finance, wealth
- Work & projects
- Spending quality time together
- Family, extended family, friendships
- Lifestyles, leisure, fun, joy, adventure, socialising, relaxing, holidays
- What we appreciate about each other, have gratitude for
- Unhelpful habits & addictions
- Goals, aspirations
- Protecting our relationship from our defensive egos
- Guardianship of the relationship couple - how we protect it
- How we & our relationship transform, grow
- Commitment, trust, intimacy, love, touch & sex in the relationship or marriage (see also Sexuality)
- Growth & spirituality
Engagement Nerves, Wedding Nerves Counselling, Wedding Doubts Counselling We may worry about whether to get engaged to our partner. Our engagement concerns may also be metaphorical, connected to how engaged, connected we are with ourself and with our partner. Some of us may have pre-marital concerns or whether or not to commit to the relationship (see also Nurturing Or Ending The Relationship). It is understandable we may have wedding nerves and the closer the wedding date approaches, the more stressed we may become. We may feel pressurised by others and this can get compounded by our own self-pressure. There can be a strong social pressure, especially for women, to be married by a certain age, compounded by any concerns about the biological clock ticking away. We may experience irrational mood swings, feel anxious, panic, have problems sleeping. Counselling for marriage doubts can be a space to talk things through. One of us may have become a little distant, or have cold feet about the marriage, needing to think through our fears. We may be considering postponing the marriage, yet also need to be clear that we don't remain in limbo, so we can explore what needs to happen to make us ready, if that is our choice. When we make important decisions, like getting married, it can be natural for some of us to have some wedding doubts and we may swing from wanting to go through with the wedding, because it is the right decision, yet have some understandable fears about the wedding day itself, unconnected from other major wedding doubts. Managing our wedding anxiety may now be a priority for us. Others may have deeper concerns, whether or not to go ahead with the marriage, postponing the wedding, cancelling the wedding. Some may have been on autopilot, going ahead with the wedding arrangements, yet not consciously choosing to think about what all this means, responsibly choosing to decide to get married. We may have genuinely wanted to marry our partner, and as the day gets closer, "falter at the final hurdle", question if we love them any more, even though they haven't changed. Our fear, dread of marrying, may have set in, even affecting us physically. The wedding doubts counselling may explore our underlying fears, worries, beliefs, that have brought us to this state. Others, deep down inside may be unhappy about the marriage, be contemplating cancelling the wedding or at least postponing the wedding for some time, making it easier for us to have the time and space to think things through. We may want to honour our own journey in life, which for some may mean not going through the wedding for the sake of it, or because we "should". Finding and speaking our own boundary saying "No" to this may for some be the right decision. Distinguishing between whether our anxiety, panic is about the wedding ceremony or what may be troubling us in our relationship may be important. This may include listening to the heart and soul of who we are, our authenticity, being real and honest with each other. If the person we intend to marry is not the man, woman for us, then for some of us listening to our anxiety, panic, speaking our truth, may help prevent us from making the decision of going through with the wedding. (See also Life's Predicaments, Priorities, Paradoxes, Contradictions, Conflicts, Contrasts, Dilemmas, Ambivalence)
Counselling Questions About Dependency In Relationships, Codependency In Relationships, Fear Of Commitment Counselling, Commitment Phobia Fear Of Enmeshment, Fear Of Rejection, Fear Of Abandonment, Premarital Counselling, Prenuptial Counselling
- Fear of commitment counselling - I have a fear of commitment, is counselling helpful?
- Is commitment phobia counselling effective?
- How do I overcome fear of commitment?
- I have fear of enmeshment - is counselling useful??
- How do I overcome fear of engulfment?
- Counselling for codependency. Definition of codependency - what is codependency? What is codependence?
- What is emotional dependence or emotional dependency?
- What is dependency in relationships? Am I in a dependency relationship?
- Counselling for codependency. Am I in a codependent relationship?
- Counselling for codependency. What is codependency in a relationship?
- Do I have a love dependency?
- Counselling for codependency. What are codependency symptoms?
- Do I need codependency help, co-dependency therapy or love addiction therapy?
- Am I in an enmeshed relationship? How do i get out of an enmeshed relationship - can counselling help?
- What might be my co-dependency issues?
- What are the signs of codependency?
- Am I in a codependent relationship, and if so, what is a codependent relationship?
- Will counselling for wedding nerves help?
- How will counselling for wedding doubts help me?
- What is pre-nuptial counselling?
- Is pre-marital counselling, pre marriage counselling helpful?
- What is premarital counselling, pre marriage counselling?
- What will counselling for marriage doubts cover?
- How would counselling for marriage doubts help?
FAQs about the Commitment Phobia, Codepency Counselling London practice based in Kings Cross, Camden:
- What is the frequency of commitment phobia counselling in London, Kings Cross?
- How many commitment phobia counselling in London sessions do I need?
- How much does commitment phobia counselling London cost?
- Must I visit your London counselling practice in Camden or do you offer Skype counselling, online counselling or Telephone counselling?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of offering online counselling, Skype counselling or in-person counselling in London, Camden, Kings Cross
- Do you only offer relationship counselling in London, Camden or Kings Cross?
- What times do you offer commitment phobia counselling in London, Kings Cross or Camden?
- How do I contact a relationship counsellor in London, Camden, or near Kings Cross?
- How effective is relationship counselling in London, Kings Cross, Camden?
- What can I expect from the initial session of relationship counselling London?
- What to expect from the other commitment phobia counselling London sessions?
- What is the typical duration of the London counselling services in Camden, Kings Cross