- I try to date, but relationships never seem to go past a certain point.
- I have a close relationship with my partner, but interest in sex died out after a while.
- I keep getting into the same kind of dysfunctional relationship over and over again.
- I want to have more friends, but no one is interested in me.
- I feel like I keep pushing people away and I don’t know why.
- It’s easy to have sex with others, but I can’t settle down into a committed relationship even though I really want to.
- I always end up feeling controlled by others.
- I seem to keep being attracted to people who aren’t available.
- I get so anxious around others that it’s hard to meet people.
- Everyone I get involved with looks to me to take care of them.
We all have challenges at times in relationships. Whether it’s a problem with a spouse, a friend, or a co-worker, we all have occasions in which we have difficulties in our interactions with others. You may find yourself being short-tempered with your child after a long, stressful day at work, or you might get into a heated argument with your boyfriend when he forgets yet again to take out the garbage. What’s more, your feelings might be easily hurt when your friends don’t invite you to go to a party with them or you believe others are judging or criticizing you.
These kinds of relationship difficulties tend to be temporary and less problematic and usually do not require relationship counseling. However, if you find yourself repeating unhealthy patterns in your relationships, if you keep getting immobilized with fear of closeness or fear of getting hurt, or if sex and love have a hard time going together, then relationship counseling could be helpful.
Do I have relationship issues or is everyone around me just screwed up?
A good rule of thumb to use when trying to figure out where problems lay in relationship difficulties is to look for patterns. For example, if you find yourself feeling criticized and put down in your interactions with your friend John, but you tend not to with your other friends, then chances are John may indeed be critical and condescending. However, if you tend to feel criticized or put down by a lot of people in your world, then it’s likely that you have relationship issues that need addressing with relationship counseling.
We are all shaped by our early experiences, particularly in our relationship with our parents. In good ways and bad, we tend to repeat various ways of relating that we learned when we were young. When these ways of relating interfere with the kind of relationship we really want, and we keep repeating negative patterns over and over, then relationship counseling is necessary to help learn better ways of relating.
I’ve been so hurt in the past that I don’t dare risk getting hurt again.
It’s very common for those of us who have experienced deep hurt or loss to not want to risk getting hurt again. This can result in being socially isolated, keeping relationships more superficial, or getting sexually involved with others without any emotional involvement.
The pain and betrayal of past sexual, physical, or emotional abuse can result in real problems trusting others or yourself. Abuse can make it too scary (or too explosive) to deal with normal conflicts or disagreements that come up in any relationship.
The experience of a painful breakup or the deep loss of close loved ones can also lead you to avoid getting close to others. Unresolved grief can get in the way of being willing to take risks again. Without realizing it, you can find yourself keeping others at a distance in order to not get hurt. You’re keeping yourself safe, but you’re also denying yourself love. When you find yourself repeating these kinds of patterns that prevent you from having the fulfilling relationships you want, relationship counseling may be needed to help you establish and maintain more satisfying ways of relating.
What is Relationship Counseling?
Relationship counseling encompasses many things. It involves helping to articulate, explore, and understand what the particular difficulties are in a safe and supportive space. It includes bringing our attention to any patterns that contribute to your unhappiness in relationships. It may involve helping you articulate unexpressed feelings or thoughts regarding previous relationships, which can interfere with your ability to move forward with your current relationship.
Another aspect of my approach to therapy has to do with our relationship. Across the board, we all tend to relate with the various people in our lives in consistent ways. We may play the role of the helper, the peacekeeper, the one in charge, the one who finds fault, and so forth. There’s usually a similarity between how we relate to people in general and how we relate to our therapist. In our sessions together, I can bring our attention to how those typical ways of relating may be coming up in our relationship. This can provide us a very useful opportunity to become more aware of how you relate, while providing a safe space to practice better, healthy and more effective ways of relating to others. We are not just talking about what happened at home or in your childhood, but are also uncovering powerful insights that can help you in the here and now. This approach can have a profound effect on unhealthy patterns of relating that perhaps seem impossible to change.
It’s Possible to Have a Healthy, Rewarding Relationship
If you feel that counseling might be of help to you, meeting together for an initial consultation would be a good next step. At this meeting you and I can become better acquainted: I get to know what is going on in your life and the issues you are struggling with and you get to know how I think and work. This allows us an opportunity to see if I can be of help to you. We can then put together a plan about how to move forward. If you’d like to set up an appointment, you can call me at (415) 255-6213 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.