The Loop: Moving Your Relationship from Dysfunction to Health

A relatively healthy couple is brought together by love, joy, humor and common interests. Most couples are aware of this and expect this to be what a relationship is about. Beginning relationships hopefully offer all of these wonderful things.

There are also other things which bring a couple together. At the simplest level, to learn from one and other.

What may emerge after not too long is a difference of needs, expectations etc. Very natural. Two people are not exactly the same. Unfortunately most couples try to solve these differences by who is “right” and who is “wrong” rather than what can each of us learn from the other one.

Perhaps there is a middle way integrating these viewpoints, the sum being greater than the parts. (I’m not talking about compromise where you give up 50% of what you want, though sometimes useful and necessary.)

The Loop

At the deepest level, the relationship a vehicle is to help us grow, to heal. In all likelihood, each partner has an unresolved issue (probably dating all the way back to childhood) which feeds into a loop with their partner.

If this loop is not taken care of, it becomes destructive to the relationship and if left unchecked can destroy the relationship or at the least make it miserable despite all the wonderful things that brought the couple together. If looked at and explored, each partner is enriched in unimaginable ways.

One loop goes something like this:

A: (not wanting to risk rejection, showing that A really cares, etc.)What are you doing Friday night? (rather than” I’d love to spend Friday night with you.” A is hoping B will say “I’d love to spend Friday night with you.”)

B: (B “mind reads” fills in that A doesn’t really care about B or A would have said, “I’d love to spend Friday with you.” so B answers casually.)” I was thinking of going to the movies.”(hoping A will say, “I’d love to go with you.”) Protectively, B is also starting to withdraw energetically.

A: ( A also “mind reads’ and starts to sense the energetic withdrawal. fills in that B doesn’t really care about A or else B would have said, “I’d love to go to the movies on Friday night with you.” A is now also withdrawing energetically) “Oh that’s nice, I have plans with with my friend.”

They spend Friday night, alone, convinced the other one one doesn’t really care about them, upset. The next time they speak with each other, this conversation haunts. However, they’re still trying because they have enjoyed each other so much.

Now B starts:( not wanting to risk rejection, showing that B really cares, because “look what happened the last time we talked.”etc) “What are you doing Friday night?”

And so the whole thing begins again, ending in sorrow.

A loop can end by any one of the partners shifting. Hopefully both. Something new and wonderful is created.

It is also helpful to look at one’s own beliefs, “in order to be loved I need to___________.”  People fill in in all kinds of ways that are ultimately not helpful to them. “I have to be perfect; I have to not really show who I am.” The paradox is that acting in these ways keeps them from the love they really want– certainly leads to depression!

“When I love someone, it is not OK to(or dangerous )to _________.”  Because one’s parents have not been perfect, but have been our first model for love, there is usually some dysfunctional idea coupled with love. For example, if the parent though very much loving the child, couldn’t tolerate anger and withdrew from the child when the child expressed anger, the child and the adult he grows to be concludes “It is dangerous to be angry. I will be abandoned.”

Very often the adult, finds someone who responds in a similar way to the parent- because in this person’s mind-body this is what love is about. I used the word body, because the feelings this situation produces seem so “right” in the body; they mimic the childhood feelings. “This is what love is about.”

The goal of a healthy adult is to discover what is dysfunctional and to separate that from love, allowing love and joy to fully exist.