South Coast Therapy - Counselling and Psychotherapy

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Is it me or my relationship?

Often in a long term relationship, or even when we have just met someone, you can begin to feel things are just not right.

You may start to distance from your partner or to panic and put all the focus on her/him and demand more attention, particularly if you feel there is something you are not getting, for instance being listened to, or emotional or physical intimacy. You might look at other couples and start to image how wonderful their life must be, or look back at previous relationships and tell yourself how wonderful they were and that fuels the feeling that something is wrong with your present relationship.

It’s all too easy to reference things on the outside, rather than looking inside yourself to see if perhaps you are playing a part in your lack of satisfaction in the relationship.

Focussing only on the other can lead to a build-up of problems. Someone who is constantly looking for attention from her/his partner can easily reach the point where they see rejection in every gesture, manner of speech or action. The harder the person tries to get what they want, the more the partner withdraws and the worse he or she feels. The reasons for this kind of behaviour are many and varied, but it can often be because the person feels empty inside and is looking to their partner for a level of emotional fulfilment beyond what can reasonably be expected in any relationship. But if you look only to the relationship to make you feel better, then you will end up feeling vulnerable and bad about yourself.

Of course it’s normal and natural to needs things from your partner; closeness, feedback, someone who will listen to you, sex and so on. The challenge is to stand back and separate what belongs to you and what belongs to the relationship. You need to ask yourself tough questions, such as: Do I have an ‘empty bucket’ of emotional needs that can never be filled? ‘Am I taking responsibility for asking for what I want? And ‘Is my partner capable of giving me what I need?

Therapy helps us to ask and to answer these difficult questions. Often when people are unhappy they feel the only way out is to leave the relationship, when in fact it may only be some aspect of in the relationship that needs to end.

"I didn't know whether to leave my husband or not. We fought all the time, and made one another miserable. I still loved him, but I couldn't see a way forward. With Jim's help I looked at my part in things, and realised I could make changes. A year on we are still together and much happier."

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