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November 25, 2017 - Welcome Guest!

Advice » Love

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Vision of love is tainted

Question:

My long-term relationship of 4 years ended 1 year ago. I can't seem to get over it. I'm still angry about the breakup, as it wasn't mutual. I know I had problems communicating with him, as I always felt that I would be misunderstood and had to protect my intimacy. My ex-boyfriend is now in a seemingly happier relationship with someone who is more compatible and I can't accept it. I feel totally rejected and I don't understand why.

I'm not a monster. I would love to meet someone new who would accept me the way I am, but at the same time, I'm totally scared that my heart will be broken again. I can't stand the idea of having to go through a string of men to end up with nothing again. I have no problem accepting people for who they are, but I always seem to end up with guys who are too critical of me. Just for once, I would like to be with someone who loves me as unconditionally as I love them.

Here's my question: Is it reasonable to ask for unconditional love from your partner or am I asking for too much? I know that when you are in a relationship, you have to compromise up to a point and adapt to the person you're with. However, I always seem to be the one who has to do the "bending" and it seems no one is willing to make such an effort for me. What's wrong with this picture?

Nathalie, 31-year-old woman

Answer:

First of all, the only unconditional love I know of is between a person and their pet. When it comes to people I don't think there is any such thing as unconditional love. The only real issues are what are the conditions and do those conditions impact mutual respect and self-respect.

The more conditions, the more details the conditions, the more it demonstrates a lack of trust and respect. I am interpreting the term "conditions" here as a matter of control with statements like "if you do this, I'll do that." While there is always this sort of give and take there are always areas where two people agree, areas where two people disagree. Just because one person in a relationship does not agree with the other does not make the other wrong, or evil. It just means that two people disagree. When one person does all the bending it may show that the person expecting the bending does not respect the other and/or the person doing the bending does not respect themselves. It is the agreement and disagreement together that makes a relationship work. Sometime two people agree to disagree but the relationship is more important than the "issue." Remember, when two people begin to develop a relationship they are two distinct people who are sharing their views of the world, reality, etc. If they find there are some personality characteristics, beliefs, and etc. that just don't jive, it is better to look for someone who is more in line with your own rather than change yourself or demand they change. After all, would you want someone who is bending just to suit you? It is amazing how many times people get into a relationship, they say (they either are lying to themselves or the other person) "I love you just as you are." but once the relationships get very serious or they marry they try to change the other person. People are pretty much they way they are. It is better to accept them than to change them or to change yourself.

Maybe you do the bending because you are afraid of losing the relationship? Maybe you do the bending because you lack confidence in yourself? Perhaps when the other person sees you bending just to please them they may lose interest. They realize they may not know the real you or are fearful that if the relationship goes further and they get more serious a different you will emerge. Be yourself and gain confidence in which you are.

Let me suggest four basic conditions that both must fulfill: First, do nothing illegal. Second, do nothing that is harmful to self or others. Third, do nothing immoral. Finally, demonstrate respect for each other and yourselves. Respect gets negotiated throughout the relationship. For instance, let's say you have a date with someone who is two hours late. You find out later they had access to a phone so they could have called. Don't argue and accuse. Point out that in your relationship each party calls when they are late for an appointment with the other. This begins to demonstrate that you respect yourself and that there are ways to show respect for the relationship. One last bit of advice that my dad gave me. "Marry only someone who has fewer problems than yourself." Then comes the caveat. "And if the other person is doing the same thing, it may work out." That advice says a lot about how important perception is in a relationship, of not rescuing people, of not being the hero in someone's life, having the sense to move on, and being discriminating in who you develop relationships with and what you will settle for in a relationship.

Thomas H Schear

This question was answered by Thomas H Schear. Dr. Schear has over 20 years experience as a front line counselor, clinical supervisor, program director and college instructor. Currently he provides online and telephone counseling service as well as home-study and online course for the helping professional from his website.

For more information visit the site or contact information page on QueenDom.

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