The First Steps to Creating a Loving, “I-Thou” Relationship.
What does it mean to love too much? Aren’t we taught since early childhood that loving another and finding our perfect mate is our most important task? The theme of finding true love and the pain endured when it doesn’t appear or last permeates poetry, literature, movies, television, music. We want to be completed by that partner who will fill our hearts bodies and lives with that joy which surpasses in every way living alone with ourselves.
“I’m so lonely. I want someone to share my life with. Why do all my relationships which start out so well end so sadly?” Hmmm, why do they? In my thirty years of practicing psychotherapy with individuals and couples who are either in unfulfilling relationships or alone, I have discovered what my clients need to know and the steps they need to take to find that perfect mate for them.
The first step is to recognize that we are complete and whole unto ourselves. What does that mean? Sounds kind of biblical?!? Well, it isn’t so much biblical as a spiritual definition of what each person actually is. In this schoolroom we call life, each of us is here to learn and express his or her unique, perfect, wonderful self. But suppose we have grown up in a family with physical, verbal and emotional abuse? Suppose our family system was so dysfunctional, hurtful and unsupportive that we never felt lovable or safe or confident enough to really step out on the promise that the world is waiting for us to share our wonderful talents, gifts and creativity?
The second step to finding your soul mate and a happy, fulfilling committed relationship is to understand your Family of Origin by working with a seasoned psychotherapist who will guide you to explore that Life Script which has created the adult you and your unsuccessful relationships.
John Bradshaw in his book “Homecoming ” defined the importance of “an interpersonal bridge between the mother or other nurturing survival figure and the infant/child which is built on mutual respect and valuing.” This interpersonal bridge “forms the blueprint out of which new relationships can be created “. If our mother and or other nurturing survival figure was unable or unwilling to love us unconditionally, to mirror through the eyes, voice and behavior our perfect I AMness, we will be searching for a lifetime to find that other person who will love us, care for us, support us emotionally …in other words, a mommy or daddy who will finally give us the love, attention and security we did not receive as children. But…we search for that special love from our wounded inner child who is split off from the adult, reasoning self.
If we were raised by parents who themselves were emotionally damaged by their family system and therefore did not know their own worth, were not loved, accepted and guided by their parents, how could they possibly love us? So, our adult selves go out into the world “looking for love in all the wrong places “. Remember that song from “Urban Cowboy? But…our search is doomed from the beginning because our unloved, unaccepted, hurting, insecure wounded child is making the choices from a self which has no right to depend on anyone.
I will continue with the next steps to a successful love life in my future columns.