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23rd Dec


Maintaining the Proper Balance in a Relationship

For as long as I’ve been counseling individuals and couples through relationship issues, I’ve long advocated (as I am sure many others to do) to ensure that each person in a relationship (this is true of both intimate and non-intimate relationships) maintains a proper balance.  A proper balance that I like to call “selfishness and selflessness.”  Too often, when we are involved in a relationship, especially those who have never been in a serious relationship before – intimate, that is – we are often trying too hard.  Trying too hard?  Trying too hard at what?  We are intensely focused on trying to impress the other person in the relationship by being hyper-focused on his/her needs.  We want to show that what others say about us IS REALLY TRUE!  Well, you think, if I focus on myself, then what “they” say about me will turn into a lie.  I will seem insensitive, selfish, maybe even arrogant. So, we go to the extreme and ensure that there is no stone left unturned – that no one has any question about our integrity in a particular set of character traits.  We end up forgetting about our own needs because the world isn’t big enough to fulfill our own needs and the needs of the person of interest.  And so, we are stuck making a choice – it’s either him/her or me.  If I choose me, then the relationship will suffer, perhaps even end as I will no longer be an attractive candidate to the potential suitor.  I will seem different than “my billing.”  Maybe I will seem to be needy.  No one wants a reputation of being needy. Why people allow themselves to get into a situation of an imbalance of selfishness and selflessness, we will get to later on.

So what ultimately happens when there is an imbalance? What am I going to do now?  Additionally, we then also forget about ourselves, which engenders an eventual problem of needs being unaddressed by the other.  And then, we get sad that someone who should care about us, doesn’t.  And we get resentful that the other person is worthy to get someone to care about them, but they are not returning the favor.  And we get jealous – why are they so lucky to get someone to care about them, but not me?  And the list of emotions that one feels can go on, etc.

Why do we do this?  Most likely it stems from a sense of insecurity about ourselves.  Why don’t we actually believe what others say about us? Hopefully, we have trusted ourselves (and others for that matter) before, why can’t we continue to do so in a new dimension of our life?  I certainly wonder and I have no immediate answers.

As an aside, it is often hard to identify that this problem even exists until it’s too late OR you’ve been talking to someone who saw patterns in your relationships and has so kindly identified them for you.

I always thought that this was an original idea, until I read this article, which echoes most of what I wrote about here, but added some empirical research to enhance the idea.  Take a look.  Let me know what you think.  The link is found here.

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