The inability to build relationships as a request for psychological work. Part 2

Failures in relationships and, as a result, the inability to create a family are widely spread requests for seeking psychological assistance and a common reason to feel dissatisfaction...

29 December, 2023

Family heritage and fears of relationships

It is easier to arrange a personal life for those who perceive their parents' relationship as a favorable example that is acceptable and desirable for themselves. The attractiveness of the role of one's own gender parent in the family is crucial.

Repeating the achievements of their parents is easier for such children because they have the opportunity to seek advice and rely on opinions they are willing to trust. If a child regards the fate of his parents as unsuccessful for replication, they simultaneously listen to them and doubt: at every turning point, there is a question — maybe it's worth doing it differently? Life satisfaction is seen in doing everything his own way, differently.

Hence, a person finds himself looking for a partner without knowing exactly what he is looking for. There are no internal guidelines — which relationships to leave, which to maintain, and which to avoid from the very beginning. All partners are considered equally promising if there is sympathy and amorousness.

In addition to personal family experience, there are two other important factors that influence the intensity of fears about relationships:

Firstly, the conclusions of observations while being alone and watching other couples. When what is seen or read leads to frightening conclusions and questions: "I know of those who ended up in a very bad situation because of relationships, do I need such a pig in a poke?", "Will I lose what I already have and value so much in a relationship, and the opportunity to realize certain plans?", "Can't they resist this, why do they behave so helplessly (regarding the interaction between spouses, what they allow and do not allow to happen with them)?"

Secondly, the reflections about the impressions of people in relationships that person has heard (when they complain about children, partners, their difficult fate, and so on). Of course, these "reports" are provided indirectly, often without a deliberate intent, but part of their content is remembered, imprinted in the souls of those who are in doubt, fueling their fears or disappointments associated with relationships with the opposite sex.

Low or "collapsed" self-esteem

"Why does this always happen to me?" — this is how the question sounds for a person who has lost self-confidence or has not yet gained it.

One of the most common reactions to "rejection" in relationships (breakup initiated by someone else or unresponsiveness of the opposite sex to their efforts to gain attention) is drawing conclusions about oneself and one's abilities. Usually, these are conclusions that work against a positive self-image (conclusions in favor of their uninterestingness, stupidity, insignificance, unattractiveness, and so on).

In this coordinate system, any breakup and the absence of a fan circle become evidence of one's inadequacy as a woman or as a man.

Imagine someone who is good at swimming. Think about why they are good at swimming? Most likely, it's because they practiced a lot or because, in addition to regular practice, they deliberately learned how to swim. Do you think you will win by "passing by" and having little experience in an open competition against someone who has been passionate about it and has been doing it for a long time? Probably not, you wouldn't seriously expect such a victory and wouldn't be deeply upset by losing to opponents who are clearly better trained. More likely, you would see yourself as someone who was simply not born to be a swimmer, rather than as defective or inadequate. However, when it comes to matters of the opposite sex, many things can be arbitrarily and freely attributed to one's personal account. Who are those people who believe phrases like "it's not about you, it's about me..."?

The main danger, in my opinion, is not even the attribution to oneself, although it erodes self-confidence down to zero or negative values and has various negative consequences. The real danger lies in experiencing the situation in this way, which implies partial or strong disregard for the independence of the motives and aspirations of another person. In order to sincerely believe that a breakup or unreciprocated affection is caused by one's own defects, one must be rather bad at noticing the subtleties of how other peoples’ organization. Returning to the question — "Why does this always happen to me?" All breakups that a person will go through with different people will be significantly different from each other (even if they appear very similar externally) and have different underlying causes (different mechanisms, in other words). If the roots of these experiences remain categorically elusive (breakups seem incredibly similar), then self-esteem and motivation to make new attempts at building relationships suffer together.

Therefore, with this request, I would recommend long-term psychological work, either with me or with someone else, focused on complicating the perception of oneself and the people around them. Short-term work may be dedicated to identifying and correcting "perception errors."

About me

Maria Dolgopolova – a certified clinical and a jungian psychologist (Moscow Association of Analytical Psychology, an IAAP training candidate studying in CGJung Institute in Zurich) with a background in gestalt therapy (Moscow Institute of Gestalt and Psychodrama, Gestalt Associates Training Los Angeles) and in psychoanalysis of object relations.

+7 903 542 9177 (Telegram, WhatsApp)