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Some of your most basic beliefs about love & intimacy are all wrong.
For over twenty years, I have worked with people from all walks of life, who get stuck in a cycle of pain, disappointment, finding it hard to sustain a healthy relationship. By changing your view of relationships and widening your perspective on intimacy, it creates an opportunity for relationships to not only survive, but thrive!
Love addiction, intimacy avoidant beliefs & patterns of behaviours;
What causes love addiction or avoidance of intimacy?
It is hard to feel love when you are angry. Happiness depends on the quality of your inner life, your thoughts, emotions, beliefs and desires when directed towards finding inner peace and love. In essence, you might develop addictions or avoidance to shield yourself from love, or painful feelings. Suffering with negative, inflexible thoughts and emotions, fraught with anger, resentment and criticism, experiencing a loss of connection, perhaps not having experienced hope or love for a long time. You might expose yourself to a serious emotional vacuum and mistake intensity in a relationship for intimacy and love.
The causes are fairly easy to identify: a history of abandonment, inadequate or inconsistent nurturing without proper bonding, or a lack of emotional connection with a parent rooted in a mature, stable place that nurtures and supports a child. No consistent positive role models of loving relationships. Holding unrealistic fantasises, values and beliefs about love. People struggle with an unconscious fear of of both abandonment and of intimacy.
A quintessential characteristic of avoidance is a person who, consistently keeps an emotional and mental distance from their partner, feels overwhelmed by their partners’ desire for closeness, feels stifled by thoughts or pressures of vulnerability, they rely on escape, through distancing strategies. A person who is blocked from love, both desires and fears relationships, because they did not have a connection in childhood that comforted them, from fear or the emptiness of abandonment, they did not learn that relationships can be healing. People, often create intensity outside of their relationship, to relieve feelings of disconnection and unhappiness.
Conscious Fear Unconscious Fear
Emotional Growth & Intimacy
People who lack emotional maturity, find it hard to deal with their emotions and challenges in life. This is very painful; relationships are often short lived; they find it challenging to maintain relationships of any depth. Compromise is almost impossible, their capacity to understand or respond to another person is limited. They find emotions difficult to handle. In an attempt to avoid feelings, they control their world by creating an idealised version, being extreme in their behaviour, or having black and white thinking. Over coming this mind set is an important part of growing emotionally, which involves learning to develop coping strategies and relationship skills.
Relationships are places where this wound shows up. When you are not in a relationship, you can navigate life on your own terms, addressing your needs and wants. You are rarely confronted by the needs of another person in a meaningful way or need to listen to or contemplate someone else’s experiences. You feel in control, most of the time. When you become involved, you are forced to deal with another persons’ desires and needs. You may struggle and blame other people for your problems, situations or circumstances, for your feelings of anger, sadness and depression, without looking within.
Mr. Brand’s thoughts about Love addiction;
‘At the root of all addiction is narcissism, a constant thrumming attention to self. If you are self-absorbed you are suffering, and if you suffer you seek ways to stop it — through drugs, alcohol, sex, maybe Facebook “likes.’
He goes on to say;
“We are trying to solve inner problems externally — whatever it is in our lives that is missing,” he said. “Eckhart Tolle said it perfectly: ‘Addiction starts with pain and ends with pain.’ Here’s the point. Drugs, booze, sex … It’s not the particular addiction that matters as much as the fact that your life is out of control because of it.
Healing Relationships from love addiction or avoidance of intimacy is a process of self discovery and emotional growth.
Growing emotionally involves; breaking through denial, acknowledging repetitive patterns, owning harmful consequences of behaviour and thoughts, and interrupting the cycle. Only then is it possible to let go and address the underlying emotional pain at the core of this disconnection. If you avoid intimacy, you run away from difficult emotions. Learning to become present and aware of your feelings is important. Have you ever met a person who is sincerely concerned for your well being and is there for you when you need them? This is a compassionate, empathetic and loving person. For some, this comes naturally, for others, it takes work. Empathy is not the same as compassion. You can be compassionate with someone but able to fully understand what they are going through.
When you feel something strongly; struggle, loneliness, self criticism, or insecurity, face it head on. Look at the situation, determine what is making you feel that way, and decide what positive steps you will take next.
A solid relationship with a skilled psychotherapist trained in working with relationships, love and sex addiction can help guide you towards a sustaining a conscious loving relationship.
Reasons to seek Relationship Therapy
You would not employ a builder to fix a leaking tap would you? You would take time to ensure you have the right help or your leak could turn into a bigger problem… The same applies for Relationship Therapy and psychosexual therapy.
When you are having difficulties in your relationship it is important to get the right help early enough to be able to smooth out any difficulties you have accumulated along the journey of your relationship.
Everything requires maintenance to run smoothly. When your car does not work you take it to a mechanic to get it fixed. The same applies to your relationship. Your relationship is an important area of your life, it affects the smooth running of everything else.
Consider Relationship therapy when:
• You want to learn skills and tools to have a good or even better relationship or marriage.
• When one of you thinks you might benefit from therapy even if your partner does not.
• When you feel stuck and what you have tried on your own is not working
• When you feel emotionally or physically/sexually disconnected and cannot seem to make changes on your own.
• When you frequently fight or withdraw or refuse to address issues of conflict appropriately.
• When you think you might be happier with someone else.
Trying to fix things on your own is a common mistake, often the things that people do to ‘fix’ their relationships ends up pushing people further apart.
The opinions and judgements of family and friends can spell disaster even when the intentions are good.
This does not mean that problems cannot be resolved to become more in line with what you both desire. People tend to try to fix things through the lens of their own experiences which is related to your needs, fears and relational patterns.
This often is the source of the difficulty in the first place. Frequently, one person might appear happy with the status quo while oblivious to problems or sources of discord between the two of you. You may be relatively happy. One person may not be so happy.
If one person is unhappy in the relationship, it is a relationship problem not one person’s problem.
Everybody has wounding to greater and lesser extents. Not everyone has been taught how to be in loving healthy relationships. These patterns and beliefs affect all relationships. Within the context of relationship Therapy and couple’s therapy these will be addressed.
In the process of relationship therapy you will learn how you accidentally get triggered on both sides, and how each of you contributes to distress and the joy in the relationship or marriage. When there is emotional distance or distress in a marriage or relationship both of you will feel dissatisfied. The ways in which a couple try to connect may not always be healthy. If sex wanes, the other partner may try to increase the frequency to alleviate the feelings of disconnection from their partner. You may use alcohol or drugs to feel closer.
A Healthy relationship involves two people taking responsibility for their relationship and the impact they have on each other.
Your life may have become busy with work, children, study and other activities in an attempt to to feel connected. Or you may avoid being alone with the person with whom you feel painfully disconnected from. Intimacy becomes an impossibility with two people are so disconnected from each other.
Many couples have great great communication skills however; you may find it difficult to work through conflict well. You may shout while the other withdraws. Or you both may shout or withdraw when you are triggered. Conflict or the root of the problem does not get resolved. In the grip of emotion often words are exchanged that are hurtful and are denigrating.
Many people think problems will just go away as though nothing has occurred, or that time will work things out. (This is a favourite defence of many partners.) Many attempts at problem solving may result in finding yourselves back at square one repeating old behaviours that created conflict in the relationship in the first place.
Help is given for on the Living from The Heart through Intensive couple’s therapy, Psychosexual therapy, workshops and retreats, where you can both learn tools and skills to work with conflict, individually and together. You will take home the tools and insights you gain in therapy to help you not only in your Love Relationships or Marriage, but all relationships you have.
Unfortunately, many couples attend relationship therapy too late – one person may have become exasperated and gives up. They do not have any more energy for the relationship after a prolonged period of time when they may not have been listened to, perhaps even suggesting relationship therapy to no avail or not taken seriously.
Another frequent scenario occurs when in the face of losing partner, an epiphany reveals that you might lose the person you love. From a place of fear, you may agree to get help and go to Counselling and are willing to work, only to find that the person is exhausted does not want to try anymore.
Couples have turned their relationships and marriages around after years and years of hopeless, distress with the right help. Do not lose your beloved through pride, or failure to take your partner’s unhappiness seriously, or not wanting to spend money. If you value your home or car you spend money on maintaining and repairing why not your relationship or marriage?
Make a change today and find out how a good couples therapist with the appreciate training and experience can help you both turn things around.
What are the healthy Characteristics of negotiation in Relationships A healthy functional intimate relationship is based on equality and respect, not power and control. Think about how you treat and desire to be treated by someone you care about. The quality of a negotiation depends upon two things; the quality of the basic relationship between the two people and the quality of the communication that takes place. A good relationship with good communication between two people should enable successful negotiation. A poor relationship with poor communication is likely to create unhealthy relationships. Too often people try to use negotiating skills from the office at home these – skills do not translate into relational tools. The health of a relationship impacts the quality of communication between two people. If you do not trust someone, you are in danger of either disregarding what they say or looking for hidden meanings that may or may not actually exist. The health of a relationship impacts heavily upon negotiation and is a major influencing factor on the likelihood of both partners getting what they need to flourish and grow. Trust This means being supportive, wanting the best for your partner, knowing your partner likes you, and being able to rely on your partner, offering encouragement when necessary, and being comfortable with your partner having different friends and interests.
Intimate relationships are complex, they can be identified by a growing degree of attachment or dependence – in other words, how much we ‘need’ the other person. Attachment or dependence can be hard to negotiate because it defines vulnerability. It is usually our own dependence – our own vulnerability – that we find difficult to confront and to accept. Like it or not, however, dependence, vulnerability, and consequently power are influencing factors in all relationships. You might feel that you control the power balance, that you are subject to it or that it is equal. Nevertheless, it exists and it is a major influencing factor.
Types of power
Positional power This type of power comes from one person’s position in relation to another. For instance, one partner may have more financial wealth or may have power because of the position that he or she occupies at work, the other partner may have less power because of the way in which their partner perceives them and the division of finances, decisions making or labour in the home. Positional power is characterised by a need for the relationship to continue. Information power As individuals, the more information that we have, the more we feel able to control what is going on about us. This form of control involves one person having more information than another and using it to control the other person’s uncertainty. People can become dependent upon others because of their need to control their own uncertainty.
Control of rewards Buying a sports car to reward a partner for their compliance is an example of this. Paying for everything in the relationship. This is about having the power to reward for desired performance or behaviour. This type of power creates dependency upon the person giving the reward.
Coercive power This is about having the power to punish for failure to behave in a desired fashion. This type of power is also likely to create dependency. People can depend on not being punished as well as depend on being rewarded.
Alliances and networks This concerns the relationships with Social networks (Facebook Literally) and real ones with Family and friends. This is an extended form of information power together with positional power.
Access to and control of agendas If one person controls what terms of the relationship are negotiated, they can effectively set the ground rules i.e. when one partner wants complete control of their partner’s behaviours and loyalty without any relationship skills or creation of the necessary skills to create a healthy relationship. This avoids intimacy. One person focussed on conditions that are favourable to themselves and for needs and requests from their partners that are unfavourable to be blocked. When the discussion is controlled, the relationship becomes dependent on the other to explain the rules for communication and subsequently negotiation. This is unhealthy in adult relationships and creates a power imbalance.
Power All negotiation is about power. Because there are always power imbalances in a relationship, negotiation goes on all the time. No matter what your overall approach to negotiation, you may need to consider the nature of power. Remember that the power in the relationship will influence how intimacy is negotiated. There are many ways people play out power dynamics in relationships through money, sex, decision making, and giving or withholding affection.
Healthy negotiation in an intimate relationship
Accepting responsibility for yourself, means looking after your needs without holding someone else responsible for your life. If you need help get it. Acknowledge past and previous bad behaviour including verbal, emotional or physical violence. Being able to say sorry and admit when you are wrong goes a long way to creating harmony in a relationship. Be sure to communicate openly and honestly. Keep your agreements. Do not create excuses for you or your partner actions. A healthy Relationship is built on truth rather than game playing and deception.
Good Communication Good Communication is based on clarifying issues, specifying feelings, and working together for mutually satisfying solutions. If one partner does something that hurts the other in any way they can take responsibility, and make needed changes in their demonstration of love for the other partner.Any two people can have different perceptions. Differences are not a problem; it is how two people deal with differences. It is often best to take a conscious approach to making decisions in relationships. There is no right or wrong. Take time to listen and reflect. Navigating your desires and reactions. Stop the internal dialogue with yourself about the other person’s motivations and emotions. Ask questions instead of making assumptions. Work towards finding mutually satisfying resolutions to conflict, this means talking. Take time to work what your desires and needs are. They are just as valid as your partner’s. You do not need to agree or even understand differences in opinion to respect your partner. When differences come up observe the situation from your partner’s point of view. No issue or problem is more important than the relationship. When one person wins an argument there will always be a loser rather than two people winning. Conscious decision making Making money decisions together, making sure both partners benefit from financial arrangements, sharing dating expenses, accepting both partners need to hold a job. Making decisions together, splitting or alternating costs on dates. Being mindful of the other person’s needs as well as your own – doing things for each other, going places you both enjoy, giving as much as you receive. Basic Steps to Maintaining a Good, Healthy Relationship • Be conscious of what both want for yourselves and from the relationship. • Be vocal about what your needs are communicate them assertively. Neither of you are mind readers • Recognise that your partner will not be able to meet all of your needs. These can be met outside of the relationship. • Do expect your partner to change to meet all your expectations. Accept differences that you see between your ideal how you would like things to be & the reality of who they really are. • Expect conflict. It’s healthy and be willing to negotiate & • Observe and have compassions and empathy. See things from their point of view. You don’t have to agree to respect and understand differences. • Healthy relationships take continual work and effort to maintain. Take your relationships’ Temperature • How well do you and your partners listen to each other? When you and your partner talk, do you look each other in the eye and really listen, is one of you pre-empting a response before the other has finished talking? • How willing are you to take responsibility for your role in your relationship? Many people are good at finding fault in others; particularly those with whom they are in relationship. How capable are you of both identifying your relational limitations and working to change them? • Re you willing to make compromises? Generally and in your daily routine are you conscious of your partners’ likes and dislikes, sensitivities and emotional needs? Do you allow your partner to make compromises for you? In order for a relationship to be balanced and healthy, each person needs to assert his or her own needs and be responsive to those of their partner. • Do you both recognise the qualities you enjoy and appreciate about each other? Are you able to express these, or are they left unsaid? Over time, couples have a tendency to take each other for granted, recognition; appreciation and affection need to be regularly exchanged, in ways that work for both partners. • Are you able to express your concerns without fear of how your partner will react? I Are you both able to express concerns gently and respectfully and do you become harsh or ridiculing? How you express the things that bother you matters at least as much as what your concerns were in the first place. These factors share common themes: mutual respect, openness and consideration. Take time to consider that your care, attentiveness & respect in your romantic relationship are the gifts that matter most every day and create a healthy loving relationship.
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Aisha Ali is a much sought after relationship specialist. She is known for her intuitive insight, she is very skilled at getting to the core of issues and helping individuals and couples transform unwanted repeated patterns. Her clients experience support clarity, awareness and a sense of peace, balance and accomplishment.