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“I don’t even know who I am/ what I want anymore”

In intimate relationships there is usually an underlying silent demand. This is the need to be understood without words. This is where you desire that your partner, family, friends, will appreciate you and anticipate you better that you can yourself. When this need is not met, there is a feeling that you have been let […]

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In intimate relationships there is usually an underlying silent demand. This is the need to be understood without words. This is where you desire that your partner, family, friends, will appreciate you and anticipate you better that you can yourself. When this need is not met, there is a feeling that you have been let down, that they don’t truly love you.

In past relationships, I have observed in myself a sort of emptiness inside that I could not put to words. I wanted to feel whole and complete with this other person, but I could not deny that feeling of  ‘aloneness’. Completeness and wholeness were not permanent and this left me feeling shortchanged and disappointed. Any perceived rejection or disagreements and the wound of loneliness would be open again. When I was single and I experienced loneliness, I assumed that another person would be the solution. They would make me whole and I would no longer feel so alone. 

Then I would meet a special someone, fall in love, and forget my loneliness. The initial buzz would wear off, the thrill of the newness would fade and once again I would find myself back where I started, feeling empty and not sure why. There was a kind of disappointment that my lover did not know what I needed to stop me from feeling empty. Deep down I knew that I wanted something more, but what was that ‘something more’? Why did they not responded to it naturally? Why didn’t I know how to ask for this ‘something’ that I needed? Just what was it that I wanted?

These questions are probably one of the reasons my relationships did not last after the initial high wore off. I would compare it to drinking to forget, only to wake up the next morning to find your troubles still waiting, plus now you have a hangover and a few more problems even. 

For some, their individual needs for attention as children were not met satisfactorily by caregivers. This could have result in an adult who has low expectations of others to understand them emotionally. We all have legitimate non-physical needs: to be seen, to be heard and to be loved. Most will have a deep seated fear of exposing their vulnerability by asking for what they need. The possibility of being judged, rejected or ignored are too painful to risk. They fear relieving memories of the past where they were left unsatisfied and rejected by their caregivers. Without the help they need to solve these dynamics that lie inside them, the past can continue to adversely affect the present.

Being in a relationship does not save you from yourself. If you do not like yourself then the distraction of love will not silence those voices and feelings. If you feel empty, then a relationship will not miraculously fill that void inside. Most people experience a temporary loss of themselves when they are in relationships because they are trying so hard to run from themselves and their perceived inadequacies. They might feel frighteningly out of touch with themselves, spending all their time on ‘us’. Personal goals, hobbies and friends might be dropped along the way. In the end, ‘us’ becomes all you are, and you become entangled with each other.

Fear and anguish over ending the relationship is normal part of the human experience. However, if you are not a separate person from the ‘we’ that was the relationship, then there is a bigger invisible fear, of losing yourself and your identity. You swam so far in the sea of ‘us’ that you no longer remember where the shore of ‘you’ is. 

The most satisfying relationships are those where both parties come in as individual and separate people. Both parties will have  knowledge that they are connected, but they are not the ‘same’. They are able to differentiate between past and present and they are aware that their thoughts are not facts. They are able to stand firm in their individuality, while also expressing concern for their partners without being overly muddled in their partners affairs. 

The good news is it is possible to stand alone without feeling lonely. There is a richer experience in intimacy when the “we” does not replace “I”. Clear differentiation will give you ‘yourself’ back.

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