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What Goes Wrong In Some Relationships?

If you've read my 'story' about compatibility, that's the big answer. But people often are confused about why a relationship often starts out great and then just sort of falls apart, inexplicably. So, here's what I've learned...

When we first meet, our relationship is superficial. We talk about the weather, the books we've read, the movies, food and music we like... all relatively 'safe' topics. As we find things in common we begin to feel a bit closer. Not what anyone would consider a deep relationship but we're enjoying each others company and there is hope.

As we get closer, and move to the second level of deepening, we might begin to discuss religion, politics, morality, ethics, etc. Here, we may hit a 'snag'. I'm liberal and you're conservative. You're Jewish and I'm Christian...

Now, here's the thing about snags: Some we get through and some we can't. For instance, my wife was Catholic and I was raised Catholic and became Unitarian at age 18. It was no big deal. We had a Catholic wedding but personalized it Unitarian-style. Win-win. For some people, dating someone of a different religion would be a deal breaker. That's neither right nor wrong. It's just important to understand.

All 'snags' that surface as a relationship deepens can either be worked through, suffered, compromised, or they become deal breakers.

When we find a deal breaker, the relationships stops deepening. Period. It has gone as far as it's going to go. Either we end the relationship or it remains a friendship at whatever level the deepening process stopped.

The boyfriend you're so excited about admits that he just got out of jail for child molesting. Most women would consider that a deal breaker.  ;-)

Which brings us to the next level of deepening in the relationship: Revealing yourself. We share stories of our childhoods, our past relationships (romantic, family, friends, etc), our past mistakes and regrets. Here is a virtual minefield of possible snags. Sex falls into this level of intimacy also. Some snags you'll get through easily but any one of them might be a deal breaker.

The best thing about the relationship "deepening" is that we feel more deeply accepted and loved as our relationship deepens.

If we have come this far and still have a relationship, great! The next minefield is the biggest. Emotional compatibility.

The first time we really argue about something, what will it look like? Will it be a mature discussion? Will one of us lose our temper? Will there be blaming? Name-calling? Cursing? Will it become physical? Abusive? When you see me after a bad day and need to talk or be held, do I care? Am I interested in listening? "Sorry. I'm heading out with the guys. Why don't you call your mother or one of your girlfriends?"

Sometimes, one partner becomes so close, emotionally, that the other partner abruptly backs away because he or she is not capable of, or interested in that degree of emotional intimacy.

Emotional compatibility is more important than most people understand. Here is where couples most often get it wrong. "Our love with get us through anything!", "I'll domesticate him.", "I'll make her jealous!", "Things will change once we're married." or "Things will change once we have a baby."

We're so ignorant about emotions and personalities that we don't understand that some partners are compatible with us emotionally and some never will be. And this is the deepening phase that will continue the longest time. If you've learned to work through snags pretty well, or have learned to compromise* then you might make it through this phase and wind up with a healthy, loving relationship and a partner for life.

That's the simple answer. Want the more complex answer? (Here comes a snag...)

People change.

The partner who once couldn't keep their hands off of you becomes disinterested in intimacy. Your once fun-loving spouse becomes a couch potato. These are snags, too. We either work through them, suffer them, find a compromise, or they become deal breakers and we reconsider the relationship.

(*Remember that compromise results in a win-win situation. It is NOT the same as giving up pieces of yourself or what you want or need.)

musicbook musicbook 61-65, M 1 Response Jun 18, 2012

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Ah yes.. people change indeed.