The inability to build relationships as a request for psychological work. Part 3

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...

28 December, 2023

Loss of respect and trust in the opposite gender

Externally, this manifests itself as believing sincerely that men or women (the opposite sex) in "our country," "in our time," or "everyone" are no good at anything. And you find yourself in a search or anticipation of a great exception to this rule.

Technically, this means that you have projected something negative onto the opposite sex — now it is inherent in "them," regardless of circumstances, as if it is not characteristic of you (or your biological gender). Usually, "projection return" can be a rapid process. However, in the realm of romantic relationships, “rapidly” is often not possible because projections are formed in significant traumatic experiences, and they can only be dispelled after that experience is thoroughly reevaluated and loses its power.

Loss of trust and respect usually has a negative impact on the effectiveness of building relationships with the opposite sex or leads to a change in the genre of the relationship in favor of calculation and exploitation.

“I often feel like a victim”

In times of peace, in countries with relatively low levels of crime and a high-value ideology of human life, pure violence occurs much less frequently than violence "with assistance from" the victim. Therefore, it is extremely useful to examine your contribution to the problem and not allow the horrors of your life to develop. No facilitator, no more violence.

This point is relevant for those who have ever felt that their partner seems to be mocking them—doing something unpleasant intentionally, personally, out of spite: using, disregarding, neglecting, misleading, mistreating, not living up to what was claimed. And then experienced righteous anger and deep helplessness in connection with this.

Regarding the beginning of building relationships and setbacks along the way: the phrase "I got dumped/was abandoned" reflects someone's attitude about being dependent on the actions of someone in power. Equals "break up"— voluntarily or forcibly, because of the initiative the one or the other.

Psychotherapy is a kind of prevention of a victim mentality. You can also work on this topic more briefly in a short-term setting.

“I have nothing to offer”

In this case, there is a persistent impression that something needs to be done before entering into a relationship — such as gaining confidence, getting rid of fears, or resolving certain issues. If there are tasks and questions you feel you need to address before getting into a relationship, it's a matter of priorities. As for fears and confidence, if they relate to relationships, they cannot be resolved in isolation from life itself and relationships. Confidence is a reward we gain after achieving a significant victory that matters to us. Therefore, for the first victory in a new field, you often have to go without calm confidence and, furthermore, with fears.

Some people come to a psychologist with the hope that they will eliminate their fears and gain confidence, as if all the positive outcomes have already occurred. In essence, there is an unintentional attempt to make a specialist believe in a reversed cause-and-effect relationship. Even in short-term therapy for phobias, if people are afraid of insects, they are given a series of tasks of varying difficulty related to insects. Tools and ways to cope with emotions during the task are provided. However, people's fear or discomfort is not taken away; instead, they are given skills to coexist with these emotions. Fear disappears as a result of completing a series of tasks — a success, a victory in everyday life (courage is given at the very end as a trophy, a bonus for the future, not as a talisman in the very beginning of the path).

“Relationships are meant to provide me with pleasure”

In this case, you genuinely believe that relationships should bring you pleasure or fulfill some other important function in your life, and you do not see any value in them beyond that purpose. Therefore, you have a set of requirements for a partner, the compliance of which you rigidly control.

This may lead to either an inability to maintain relationships (frequent conflicts with mutual grievances) or low satisfaction with the everyday aspects of relationships (they quickly become boring, lose their emotional intensity, and become a second "job").

“Each of my relationships tragically ended after 3, 5 years, etc.”

This is a bad sign if you believe that certain long-term relationships ended "suddenly," "unexpectedly," and for no apparent reason (the relationship could have proceeded). Conversely, it's a dangerous oversimplification if you believe that there is or should be a simple, short answer to why a partner might want to end a long-standing relationship. After all, long-term relationships imply that they are positive in some way, even if not in every aspect.

It's a bad sign because, in both cases, you have ignored and continue to ignore certain significant aspects of the other person's motivation or character, as well as not fully understanding yourself as a potential bearer of the same qualities and aspirations. This doesn't mean that people should always be predictable in everything. However, when the situation has already occurred and the initial emotional shock has passed, if you cannot, to some extent, live through the situation "through the eyes of the other person," it means a partner has hit a "blind spot" in your understanding of other people and yourself.

Psychotherapy is a fertile ground for working with such "blind spots." However, short-term formats may not be very effective because they involve nuances of self-perception and perception of others, rather than gross errors.

“As a matter of fact I'm already in a relationship”

Throughout life, one can find himself in relationships that are often referred to in everyday life as unreciprocated or unshared love. This occurs when one person's hopes for a relationship do not align with the intentions of the other party. In many cases, somebody can find it convenient to refer to such a connection as a full-fledged relationship (even if one of the "participants" who does not have romantic feelings or intentions may limit personal meetings to an extreme rarity). This is because the person who is in love must do internal work to exit such a relationship, as if this is genuine relationships that require a “real” breakup initiated within one's own consciousness. In other words, to exit such relationships, one must possess the skill of "breaking up first" with someone to whom he has a strong, deep attachment, and be steadfast in his choice.

It may turn out that in objective reality, you only see your loved one once a year or meet more frequently but interact on "friendship" terms, yet in your inner reality, you are "occupied" for all other potential relationships and remain more “faithful” than even the most respectable family person.

Sometimes, it's challenging to distinguish this point from having a low motivation to build relationships aimed at creating a family and partnership. Because "unreciprocated relationships" are entirely safe (they do not promise "extra" closeness to both parties), paradoxically predictable and manageable, do not impose responsibility, and may appear as an exciting passion that perfectly complements the unspoken intention to continue leading an independent life.

“I haven't decided…”

If you have plans for the next three to five years, and you are not embarrassed to share them, there is a good chance to find companions or partners required for joint tasks. When you communicate your intentions to people around you with words and gestures — "I want to start a family, who is occupied with the same?" — you receive responses from the world, which include people with similar aspirations, as well as those who are following different paths.

If you have not determined your direction for some reason, you will meet, most likely, “fellow travelers” who have also not decided. For certain age groups, uncertainty about aspirations is natural and inevitable, but when it acquires age-independent stability, it becomes a personal characteristic that leaves an imprint on various aspects of life.

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)