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by Adele Besner, PsyD

Have you ever wondered what mental health has to do with relationships?  People in their interactions with others often talk about their partner and what they have done wrong, what drives them bananas about their partners, or just why something isn’t working in their personal relationships. We all have a tendency to point the finger at the other person when questioned about why the relationship might not be working.  And while the adage says “it takes two”, the truth is, oftentimes there are more than two people present than just the couple.  Let me explain.


When relationships are formed with new partners, it is inevitable that the person does not come to the other with a blank slate.  There are previous partners, prior experiences and interactions, not to mention the history that is carried from families of origin and early childhood experiences.  And while physical chemistry plays an important role, we tend to be drawn to people who are somewhat familiar in their demeanor, mannerisms and overall presentation. 


 The beginning of a new romance is typically the fun and exciting part; but, what happens after the initial attraction diminishes and a sense of discomfort arises?  And why when the chemistry was so strong, does the feeling of overall well-being not continue?  Don’t most of us want to ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after?  It is not unusual for old relationships, previous experiences and preconceived belief systems to invade the current relationships we are in.  These previous experiences can sometimes wreak havoc with the way we interact and respond and some of the decisions that we make while with our new partner.

If you are beginning to have conflict in your relationship or are questioning the things that may or not be happening in the relationship you are in, you may want to consider asking the following questions:

  • Are you stuck in a pattern of choosing similar people each time in spite of looking for the opposite of your previous relationship?

  • If you missed the initial warning signs (and sometimes they are hard to see) when do you decide that you are in the wrong relationship and need to get out?

  • What attracted you to the person you are involved with?

  • Did the physical attraction change or the dynamics of the interactions change?

  • What are your expectations?  Have they been met and/or have they changed?

  • What are you prepared to give to the relationship and what are you hoping to receive in return?:

  •  Are you disappointed; and, how do you express that disappointment to your partner?

  • Can you identify the difference between being suffocated, and controlled?

  • Are you involved with someone who is physically present but emotionally unavailable?

  • Are you reluctant to leave your current relationship out of fear of missing the person you are with from fear of being alone and without a significant other?

Are you having difficulty answering these questions or responding affirmatively to many of the questions asked? Seeking professional advice can help you process your answers and guide you onto the path that you believe is the best for you to follow.  Having an objective opinion, gaining insight into your behaviors and looking at things rationally can benefit you greatly.  Ask a psychologist, we are here to help.

2+2 = 4 May Not Always be the Best Way to Solve the Problem: Service
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