A New Partner A simple but stupid solution BY: Troy Murphy |December 2015
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If past relationships have not lasted, were unfulfilling or quickly turned abusive, we may over-simplify the cause by blaming the trouble on repeatedly choosing the wrong partner. Perhaps a better partner may solve the relationship puzzle—but exclusively blaming a partner interferes with deeper personal examinations. Side-stepping responsibility protects the ego and avoids the discomfort of discovering flaws; we all have blemishes. Personal examination may irritate but honest self-discoveries and the subsequent improvements are the building bricks of improved connections—not simply taking a blind stab at another lover, desperately hoping the new relationship will turn out better than the last. The problem is that most relationships develop slowly; the structural fractures of the relationship’s foundation aren’t immediately evident for examination. We may travel down the road of a new relationship for several years before realizing we are no better off than we were with the last partner.
Carefully examine your own being, asking: “Why do my relationships repeatedly follow an unhealthy pattern ending in heartbreak?” The answer to this essential question isn’t immediately available to superficial glances and subjective speculations. Ego protecting mechanisms conceal uncomfortable truths. We deceive ourselves, burying evidence, passing over facts, and denying patterns, Perhaps we think, “If I’m convinced it’s not my fault, I can convince my partner it’s theirs—and they will change.” Interestingly most people believe themselves above average in relationship skills; but this is statistically impossible—many are lacking and don’t know it. If we experienced struggles with past relationships, numerous painful endings, or are habitually unfulfilled, perhaps the relationship shortcomings were more than a faulty partner. In this case, we have relationship skill building work to do.
Courageously taking responsibility for flaws, exposing hidden characteristics, we must graciously accept imperfection as normal, lessoning the fear of rejection. Only with willingness to know can we discover the good, bad and ugly—a little darkness lurks within all. We might find we quickly pass judgment, viciously defend wrongs, or quietly disconnect. We may discover failures to communicate, the keeping of secrets, or tendencies to emotionally erupt at the slightest surprises. All these small blemishes can be smoothed and artfully woven into intimate relationships when they are known and considered during interactions. A skilled art of building an intimate relationship may take decades to develop—perhaps a lifetime. But when hurts, emotional arousals, or loss of connections is carelessly pushed off on the partner, without any personal examination, we set ourselves up for the merry-go-round of failure. Each interaction, going through the same motions, same disappointments, and then dismissed, only to run its course and return, again!
Through personal acceptance, we may encounter hidden weaknesses without debilitating shame. By recognizing our contribution to the painful relationship dances, we empower ourselves to embark on needed changes. Many get lost in the habitually massaging their delicate egos, redirecting emotional pain by focusing attention on the partner and what the partner is doing wrong. Friends and family eagerly engage in the drama, agreeing with our depiction of the terribleness of the monster sharing our bed.
If you seek drama, sprinkled with the unhelpful-well-meaning support of others, continue with the gross portrayal of your self-imposed victimhood. But change requires a little more. This merry-go-round must stop; kick off the hoodlums vandalizing your life and move towards healthier connections. Only from enlightened acceptance of our role in the unfolding drama can we make change, inviting intimacy, and building security. We can be a more loving partner—skilled in relationships. New insights provide direction, allowing the searching gazes of introspection to discover the flaws impeding flourishing relationships.