Why are relationships so difficult?

Difficult relationships
Relationships are often difficult and most people have tried to break up. Photo: Frankie Cordoba.

If romantic relationships are difficult for you, you probably wondered why and you probably felt bad about it; at least that’s what I did for many years. In this post I like to provide a new understanding of why relationships often fail and why so many of us are single. I hope to make you feel better about yourself. The purpose is not to give dating advice but if you come to feel good about yourself that certainly helps your dating too.

For a very long time I have been thinking about singlehood, failed relationships, bad relationship choices and issues like that. Actually, I have been thinking about those issues since I was a teenager because in those days I realized that I myself had one very difficult problem; I was unable to be in a relationship since I only fell in love with someone I couldn’t get.

So I started thinking. And since my problems in that regard were very persistent, I kept on thinking about those issues for many years. Along the way I came up with some solutions and I started to feel that I kind of solved those problems in my own life or at least I was not tormented by them anymore. Based on my own experiences and thoughts as well as some theoretical knowledge, I also started helping other people. I had clients and I even wrote two books (in Danish) about my ideas. 

I used to both pity and blame myself for being unsuccessful in relationships. I also used to believe that romantic love was the doorway to happiness and since this particular door had slammed in my face, I thought that I would never be happy.

I guess thinking like that is kind of normal because we celebrate marriage. Everyday on the radio we hear mostly romantic songs. In Hollywood movies the hero gets the girl in the end and they live happily ever after. That’s the one important happiness narrative in Western culture. Today I no longer worry much about failing in that regard because I think that the narrative is flawed. 

Attachment theory falls short

As I recall it, when I studied psychology at university many years ago I was only presented with one explanation to why relationships fail and that’s “attachment theory”. The theory was originally developed by the British psychoanalyst John Bowlby (1907-1990) and his American-Canadian co-worker the developmental psychologist Mary Ainsworth (1913-1999).

According to them, our ability to form deep and enduring emotional bonds are based on early experiences with our primary caregivers and therefore the theory is also sometimes used to say that adult relationship patterns are modeled on those childhood experiences.

The theory identifies four different attachment patterns that are visible from an early age, that’s “secure”, “ambivalent”, “avoidant” and “disorganized”. Most children are secure, they feel safe and confident. Supposedly they also form good relationships as adults.

The ambivalent children on the other hand are insecure, distrustful and suffer from separation anxiety. As adults they tend to cling to and feel unloved by their partners. The avoidant children tend to stay away from intimacy altogether as adults and the same goes for the disorganized children who also have a hard time controlling anger and other emotions. 

I am sure attachment theory has some truth to it. In my opinion it is, however, not able to account for why so many people have overwhelming relationship issues and why large parts of us either get divorced or do not marry at all.

That’s a general trend in many Western societies and therefore it doesn’t really make sense to try to explain it in terms of individual childhoods. It seems to me that we need to develop other kinds of explanations and that if you are unable to be in a long term couples relationship it doesn’t necessarily mean that something went wrong in early bonding. 

How do you feel about intimacy?

I think it is important to discern the “why” in each individual case. Do you for instance stay away from intimacy due to fear? And, if so, is it a “good” or a “bad” fear. A good fear is when you are afraid of something dangerous. That’s reasonable, it will serve you well and keep you out of danger.

A bad fear, however, is irrational. We call it anxiety or phobia. It resembles an allergic reaction to something that is healthy. For instance, if you are allergic to apples it is probably not very sensible. For some reason your body’s immune system has categorized it in a wrong way. Likewise intimacy and close relationships are good for us, so a basic fear of that is what I call bad fear.

Intimacy
Do you fear intimacy? Photo: Sinitta Leunen

A bad fear like that may have arisen from insensitive parenting as attachment theory suggests. Since it happened at a very early age you don’t remember but subconsciously you are convinced that you must watch out for intimate relationships. If that’s your problem, then you do have a problem. 

But what if the case is very different; for example you do not fear intimacy and you enjoy close relationships but you get easily tired of being in a couples relationship? Maybe you prefer freedom. Or what if you fall in love in November but come January you already forgot about it? What if you are passionate about something else, not marriage? Or if somehow you sense that romance is not really the kind of love that you are looking for?

These examples may not have anything to do with problems in early bonding. However, since our predominant happiness narrative is so closely related to romance, I think that Western culture pretty much fails to address these issues and to provide a deeper understanding of the involved people’s psychology.

As a result, we don’t have a good framework for understanding ourselves in those situations. You may easily come to think: “What is wrong with me?” Therefore a lot of people end up struggling with both confusion and low self esteem if they don’t fit very well into our cultural notions of romantic love. 

Martinus’s view on relationships

When I was in my early twenties I started reading the Danish author Martinus (1890-1981). His writings on spiritual issues are vast and comprehensive; his main work alone, Livets Bog (The Book of Life), entails thousands of pages in seven volumes. I don’t expect you to know anything about him. Even in Denmark he is not commonly known but parts of his writings are translated into numerous languages.

Reading him I began to see things in a new perspective and I realized that my own problems might not be caused by fear of intimacy and bonding issues but rather they might be signs of something natural and meaningful. 

According to Martinus, relationship issues are not a mistake because a new kind of love is on the rise and problems with the old romantic kind is an intrinsic part of the transformational process. 

He sees modern developments in our relationship and family structures as part of a larger evolutionary scheme. He uses the term “zone of unhappy marriages” for our present stage in that evolution and says that our ability to form marriages has been degenerating for a long time already.

It doesn’t sound like a very nice idea, does it? So why would that comfort me in any way? Well, since I used to think that something was wrong with me, the suggestion that I was on the right track was very appealing. What a relief!

According to Martinus, relationship issues are not a mistake because a new kind of love is on the rise and problems with the old romantic kind is an intrinsic part of the transformational process. 

Marital love and neighborly love

He portrayed two kinds of love, “marital love” and “neighborly love”. You may say that marital love is for the one whereas neighborly love is for everyone. Martinus proclaimed that we are all influenced to some degree by both of these two kinds of love but that we differ greatly with regard to our make-up, that is some of us are very much into marital love whereas others are more or less dominated by neighborly love.

He also said that the first one is in decline and the second one is growing. Even if this transition is slow and organic, it is also progressing steadily and will ultimately, in a far off future, lead to a total restructuring of our love lives so that neighborly love takes over completely leaving no room whatsoever for marriages. 

The two kinds of love are conflicting forces because, if you truly love your neighbor, your wife or husband may easily feel neglected or jealous. They will soon realize that they are not the one and only since neighborly love is all encompassing, meaning the object of that love is not just one woman or one man but every woman and every man.

That’s why if you are looking for a partner, you would do well to consider if the two of you have similar make-ups. If both of you are dominated by marital love you will likely be joined at the hip. But if one of you is dominated by neighborly love and the other by marital love, your relationship will probably suffer a lot from that disharmony and you might not stick together for very long.

Marital love is the kind of love you feel when you “fall in love”. It is a natural phenomenon in all of the animal kingdom. It is instinctive and hormone-driven, and I think it is fair to say that this is the kind of love that will most often convince us to start a family. For some of us, though, this kind of love is not at all what it used to be. Our ability to fall in love like that has become eroded and fragmented.

According to Martinus we will experience that more and more in the future. This means that increasing numbers of us will have difficult and unhappy marriages or will not get married at all. If you are like that, your appetite for relationships is rather small and you also may no longer feel like having kids. Those big meals are too much for you. 

Heartaches in the transitional period

During the period of transition your love life may lead to numerous heartaches and give rise to a lot of confusion. At some point you may realize that you are like a wounded refugee in a no-man’s land between the realms governed by these two kinds of love.

Caught up in the middle you might try to fulfill the requirements of both but since they represent opposing ideals and practices you will probably end up failing either way. If you are no longer able or fit to marry and if you are not yet able to truly love your neighbor either, you will have to limp along doing everything in a half-hearted way.

For some that struggle may be very intense and painful whereas for others it is less acute but most of us living in the modern world will probably feel its weight to some degree.

Even if it sounds depressing it is not all bad because you may also experience some progression, for instance getting better and more intimate friendships even with your ex’es or with those girls or guys that you used to date. That’s a good sign showing that neighborly love is on the rise in your mentality.

So to recap, relationship issues may hurt a lot and getting your heart broken may happen too often, however, that doesn’t mean that something is wrong with you. On the contrary, if Martinus is correct, you are probably on the right track in a large transitional process. Hopefully, thinking about it like that will allow you to feel better and more confident. That may even help your dating.


Follow this blog, I will soon give out more advice on dating and relationship issues.

Let’s talk about sex baby! Sexual Alignment

Sexual Alignment

 

Story 1

Imagine that you are lying on the bed and your partner is kissing you from your neck to your chest all the way down to your toes. Your partner touch you so hard that you can’t even move. Your mate is stretching your hands so you become completely strength less. You can hear your partner’s desire from the left and right ears. You are just lying, listening and observing because you don’t actually feel anything, and then you say to yourself: “When it’s gonna be over?”

 Story 2

Imagine you are looking into your partner’s eyes, then you feel some sexual desire. Your partner is kissing you on your lips, you close your eyes and enjoy the sensation. You both forget everything around you. You don’t care about anything else. You explore each others bodies … then suddenly you utter these words: “I love you Baby” because you reached the soul of your partner.

Written by Suzette Lyn Michaelsen and Jens W. Pedersen

There is one very important basic principle in The Law of Attraction and that is “contrast”. Above you find two contrasting sex stories. From contrasts we learn, so that knowing one contrast will allow you to wish for the opposite. For instance from experiencing unpleasant sex arises the wish for loving and fulfilling sex.

But sometimes we get stuck with the unpleasant part. Then you will think about that very bad sex all day long – maybe feeling sorry for yourself, maybe angry with that partner of yours doing it all wrong. Or maybe jealous at a friend of yours having great sex.

None of this, however, will benefit you since those negative thoughts create more negativity attracting again those unwished for experiences. For that reason do not use much effort and do not get preoccupied with that which was unpleasant.

But use it to understand what you really like and put your focus and energy into that – by doing so, you direct your thoughts into a good vibrational pattern and in turn those vibrations will attract what is desired. This is how you turn story number one into story number two.

What may hold you back?

When you are making love with someone without any sensation it looks like you are just a puppet following the moves of your master. You may want to change that, but some beliefs, taboos or lack of knowledge hold you back. Those kind of reasons are called “resistance”.

Some people stay that way because they are married and believe that it is our obligation to please our partner. Some pretend to be happy to avoid problems in the relationship. Some obtain this behaviour to avoid judgement from society because of sexual taboos. Some accept this predicament because they are unaware of what they really want.

But the unsatisfied person experience unworthiness, insecurity, sadness, depression and restlessness. So let us further introduce to you sexual urges and liberation so that you may achieve the most exciting and intimate sexual experiences.

We attract our own energy

You need to communicate with your inner self and identify: “What do I really want?” But you may be confused. Then it is like: “I want ice cream but I don’t want to eat it!” We attract our own energy. So if you are confused about sexual desires that will reflect itself in the sex-partners you meet. This may be annoying, but is also useful since that reflection is a mirror. You may use it to understand better yourself.

Take one example:

A man is sexually aroused when he see women with sex appeal and he is very much into them. But at the same time something is off, and so when it comes to real life sex with a woman that matches his desire he is holding back. Hesitating. Feeling insecure about that.

So, there is two opposing energies: The one is sexual desire and attraction, but the other one is hesitation or confusion about those wishes.

The result being: Those attractive women that he desire seem to vanish in front of him. They appear and attract him. He will connect with them over and over again, and they talk or chat for a while, but for some reason those connections never seem to turn into something real and tangible. They appear and vanish, appear and vanish over and over again and it is a reflection of his confusion or not knowing what he want.

So, how will you use that?

You must think again about your own desires. Go through them as many times as needed. Think about what you want and then feel. So, when you think “I want this specific kind of woman” or “I want a same sex partner”, or “I like to have multiple partners”, then notice how it makes you feel. Good? Bad? Safe? Scared? And so on and so forth.

Noticing that will gradually increase your self awareness and balance your thoughts about what you want with those inmost desires of your inner being. When finally they are balanced, you let go of resistance and are able to attract and meet in real life exactly what you want.

Remember, that your present perspective is a narrow one compared to that of your inner being – so, in order to align yourself with your inner being you must always change your perspective from narrow into something broader or all-embracing. Your “guiding system” will help you do that:

Understand your guiding system

When we were young we were told from our parents: “You should not do that, because it is bad”. Some of us who went to church learned that: “It is forbidden to do this and that because it is a sin”. For instance in some cultures it is forbidden or sinful to be a homosexual and due to that a truly homosexual person may reject that part of him or herself.

However, following those directions you may not get what you want because you are controlling yourself based on a worldly perspective. So that’s why it is very important to value your inner being and follow your own guidance system that holds a broader perspective of this existence.

So what is your guidance system and how does it work?

The guidance system is an inner connection with your higher self, your soul or what is in Law of Attraction called your Source. It works through your feelings, so that if you feel good you are in alignment with your Source. In the words of Abraham it is like this: “Until you decide to focus your thoughts into alignment with the Source within you, you will not feel good.”

Now, this might cause some misunderstanding – in order to feel good you might try to change or control your surroundings. You may think: “My lover should not say this or that!” Or: “My partner should not do those things that I dislike!” You may very well think (most of us do) that your husband or wife is the reason why you are not in alignment and therefore not feeling good.

But it is not about them. And to focus your thoughts on what they did wrong, and correcting them, will only make you feel worse – or it will be like peeing your pants. You correct them, and they behave for a while, so you feel good. But then again they will do something stupid, husbands and wives always do. So, after some time, you are back at square one feeling bad again because of what he/she say or do. Correcting them is Sisyphean.

Feeling good is about aligning yourself with the perspective of your Source which is always loving – towards yourself, your partner and everything. So, coming from there sex may be both tender, caring, intimate, wild and free. It is all up to you, your choices and whether or not you are in alignment with your inner being.

The 3-point cure for unhappy infatuations

pige-under-mole-foto-af-gre

What to do with unhappy infatuations? Below you find a cure based on my experience.

Years ago I wrote a 3-point cure for unhappy infatuations. I still believe that it works, so below you will find it in a slightly revised form. It is based on my own experiences, since I used to fall in love with girls who didn’t love me back and so I needed to get a hold on my emotions. The following is what I came up with.

The cure is based on the idea that a person who is unhappy in love is grabbed by his or her emotions and not thinking strait. By reviewing and reflecting on the following three points it is possible to introduce more common sense into the process and healing comes from that:

Point 1: Use your gut feeling
When you can not have another person as a rule you know, BUT you may choose to ignore that knowledge – you catch at a straw and hope that the other one may still …

That want work!

Instead, you should use your gut feeling, it will tell you if that other person is also interested.

Point 2: Be realistic about that person
You may imagine that the other one is something quite amazing and that you’d be SO happy if only …

No, you would not!

If the two of you had a relationship, you would find that he or she is an ordinary person, maybe ill-suited for you, and that your everyday life together will sometimes be dull and boring like it happens in most relationships.

Point 3: See beyond the obsession
When you imagine that the other one is absolutely the ONLY thing and that you NEVER will be happy again unless he or she …

Then you are wrong!

And once the obsession is gone, you may very well end up thinking, “What on earth did I see in that person?”

Letting go of attachment
Thus the three points, they are intended to help you let go of an emotional attachment, which is not good for you – when the cure works well, you will be relieved, freed from an unhappy infatuation.

If it doesn’t work for you, you are very welcome to contact me for guidance.

Here you find contact info and prices.

losing-attachment-lille

To the modern gentleman: Be nice!

gentleman-helping-his-lady

Do you want your man to be gentle in the old fashioned way? Photo by Viktor Hanacek

 

How gentle would you want your man to be? Personally I believe that kindness and tact are some of the most important personal qualities we may have (both men and women).

But at the same time I will soon feel awkward, if I am expected to be gentleman-like in the old way, that is, to pull out chairs, hold doors, etc .. In general I am not very comfortable with traditional gender roles.

So from my point of view a modern gentleman is not upholding old fashioned values and gender specific norms of behaviour, but he is a true gentleman when he is loving, kind and considerate.

It is said very well in the simple advice I once got from a girl who did not like my behaviour: “Be nice!”

What do you say? 🙂 ♥

 

 

This is why we break up!

By Jens W. Pedersen

SingleBlog-parforhold-er-ikke-lykken-e1405243529196

Read a new and surprising view on why you cannot maintain your relationships for very long.

The author of this post, Jens W. Pedersen, coaches and consults on dating and love. Read his refreshing thoughts on why so many of us jump from one relationship to the next and what you can do instead.

Today many of us find it difficult to succeed in relationships, and there may be several reasons for that. Some therapists point out, that it is due to traumatic experiences that instilled a fear of being let down and thus we no longer put our faith in love.

But I would like to suggest a different reason that is rarely spoken of: It may be that your preoccupation with relationships and marriage is on the decline, so that being a couple is not the most important thing in your life anymore.

That phase is, in other words, about to be over and done with in your case, and therefore no longer holds such a strong grip on you. This is why you will lose interest in the partner. What should have been a lifelong interest and partnership, turns out to be nothing more than a short intermezzo, or a faint reflection of the romantic dream that you had hoped for.

Content in your single life
However, if you lack a good substitute for the life-content represented by romance, you might easily hang on to the past, and so, you repeat it by trying yet another partner and investing your feelings in that new love.

Nowadays we have consequently what has been named serial monogamy, where we periodically change our partner and start over. In this way, we go through the same phases of a love relationship repeatedly, but we find it hard to move on from there and attain a new sense of meaning.

The case may be that being two alone together is no longer enough for you. This does not mean that you completely wave farewell to having a relationship in your life, but you must supplement it with something more.

If you place a one-sided emphasis on the life content that your relationship or marriage might give to you, you expect too much from romance and so you are disappointed time and again.

What is your passion?
If you repeatedly find that your relationships are crumbling, I therefore suggest that you consider whether your preoccupation with relationships is in reality somewhat artificial or exaggerated?

The failed relationships may be an indication that you are moving out of the zone where being together as a couple meets all your dreams, and then you need to look for a new, alternative life content.

It might be another passion or a greater kind of love where you are thinking of doing something for others, i.e. charity, altruism and compassion. Below you get more ideas.

Consider what your new life content is, for example:

  • Give your children a good start in life
  • Enrich the lives of others by becoming a capacity within your line of work
  • Create great music, art, architecture, literature, etc.
  • Immerse yourself in a great hobby or interest
  • Spread happiness around you with your fine sense of humour
  • Fight for a better world with your political messages
  • Fulfil your mission in life by …?

The search for new life content may well be fumbling and hesitant. That is quite natural. Transition phases are hard. When one era is over and life is about to take a new turn, it can be experienced as a loss of meaning or a sense of inner emptiness that persists until we understand what our life is now going to be about.

Are you a single no. 5? Be true to yourself!

By Jens W. Pedersen

Do you really want a sweetheart or is it something you imagine in order to feel normal?

Author and coach, Jens W. Pedersen, wants us singles to leave behind the who-do-you-think-you-are attitude* and get better at listening to what we actually need:

In my Danish book “Dating, desperation og selvudvikling” I listed five different types of singles:

1. You are a happy single and do not want anything else.
2. You imagine that you are happy, but basically you want to live in a relationship.
3. You are unhappy, but passive. You do nothing to get a sweetheart.
4. You are unhappy and active – you venture into meetings with the opposite sex.
5. You imagine that you are unhappy and try to find a love connection. But in reality you do not want it.

No. 5 is rather a queer fish (m/f), because he is trying to have a girlfriend, although he doesn’t really want it.

Today we have a lot of “serial monogamy”. When so many of us jump from relationship to relationship, it may be because we are singles no. 5: we want a relationship, yet not after all. Or at least we don’t want it enough for it to become a lifelong relationship and marriage.

If you are one of those who do so, do not degrade yourself for that reason, but remember to maintain a good self-esteem.

Believe in yourself, single!
One of the main sources of self-esteem is to realize that the psychological processes we pass through are both healthy and natural.

Unfortunately, the prevailing opinion and norms sometimes work against us, and we feel wrong or flawed – and therefore ought to seek out a psychologist to be cured of our misery.

Recently I read a book on dating and relationships in which the good therapist at every other page invited the reader to seek out a therapist. He, he. This may not be what you need. Certainly you don’t need to perceive yourself as guilty or wrong if you are not really interested in a relationship. Instead look at yourself with appreciation, often this is all we need.

Breaking up is not a weakness
When a relationship dissolves it hurts, and we would rather avoid that. But contrary to what many psychologists, family and couple therapists preach, I see no signs of weakness or error. We do not need to perceive breakups as indicators of bad morals, bad communication or childhood trauma.

It may be something else: we may experience a natural process due to less hunger, i.e. that our appetite for a relationship is simply not that big and thus we cannot maintain a real interest in each other over an entire lifetime. Maybe a couple relationship is not the very meaning of life for us.

Loving single culture
I believe that we need a culture that supports and promotes self-esteem – including for singles. Rather than “You’re not to think you are anything special” I say:

  • You should not make less of yourself and follow the herd.
  • Do not think that you are flawed, just because you do not fit into a traditional couple relationship.
  • Be true to yourself and believe, that what you want and what you do is right.

If you would like a lot of love in your life, there’s only one thing to do: show love for yourself and others – in that manner we will have a culture where self-development can take place without undue criticism and condemnation. It is a culture that promotes your self-esteem.

In fact it is also a culture that enhances one’s ability to be in a relationship. If we avoid making ourselves and each other wrong, there is a greater chance that we can maintain our relationships and enjoy the benefits that come from them.

*The who-do-you-think-you-are attitude corresponds to what we in Scandinavia call The Law of Jante. Paulo Cuelho describes the saying of that law very well: “You aren’t worth a thing, nobody is interested in what you think, mediocrity and anonymity are your best bet. If you act this way, you will never have any big problems in life.”

This was taken from his blog: http://paulocoelhoblog.com/2012/02/03/the-law-of-jante-3/

Practice love when single!

By Jens W. Pedersen

Many singles dream of unconditional love from the next lover, but is it even possible?   

Author and coach, Jens W. Pedersen, believes we cannot demand unconditional love, unless we are able to give it. Read his thoughts on how to part with the idea of someone who loves you completely and without conditions:

Within psychology, it is often said that we need to experience unconditional love in childhood. If not, as adults we are still searching for that kind of love and thus meet others with a “look at me!” and “love me!” – we are still trying to grab that unconditional love but it is too late and all in vain.

This psychological mechanism easily plays tricks on us, but blaming childhood does no good when as adults we need to take responsibility for our own lives. By focusing too much on childhood we get stuck in a bitterness that makes matters worse.

You get what you give
Therefore I say instead: You get what you give! So if you want unconditional love, you must be able to provide it. You can’t do that, can you?

Hardly any of us can, and we are therefore not in touch with reality, if we seek that in others – or even require unconditional love from a potential partner.

Even if none of us manage to show unconditional love, we can still practice love – for ourselves and others. This is crucial, for it holds a promise that we will eventually and gradually experience more and more light, love and happiness in our lives.

How to practice
So how do you practice? Try like this:

  • Be true to yourself and your beliefs.
  • Allow yourself to be who you are.
  • Avoid sticking or clinging to love from others.
  • Share your love with someone who wants it.
  • Know how the actions of others mirrors you own, and forgive them because you might have done the same.

Like I said, my basic point of view is that we get what we give in love. Therefore, to get lucky in love is not a matter of grabbing something – turn your focus away from that urge and be aware of how you can spread happiness around you. If you can bring joy and comfort to those around you in everything you do, then you have achieved your high objective.