Often, people find themselves in unhealthy patterns in their intimate relationships. On the one hand, these patterns can be challenging and debilitating to the relationship. And on the other hand, they are the very opportunity to help a relationship grow and become more loving.
Unhealthy Patterns in Relationships
Becoming aware of certain patterns is the first step in healing them. There are a variety of unhealthy patterns, but here are a few common ones:
Codependency – this exists in relationships when there is excessive emotional or psychological reliance on each other. Often, in codependent relationships, one or both people struggle with powerlessness, low self-esteem, and enabling. Those in codependent relationships might have a difficult time expressing their needs, knowing what their needs are, or taking responsibility for their own needs. Codependency might also include feeling unworthy, assuming the responsibility for the feelings of others, and may include a level of addiction.
Enmeshment – Enmeshed couples are overly involved with one another, such that there is little room for one person to experience life on their own terms. Being enmeshed with another might overlap with codependency in some situations, but not always. Enmeshed relationships often have boundaries that are too close and have the following characteristics. One or both people might:
Distant – Distant couples might have plenty of physical proximity but lack any emotional connection. In this relationships, couples are detached from one another. One or both people in the relationship might:
Fortunately, as mentioned above, you can work to change relationships by becoming more aware of the patterns between you and your partner, and then you can adjust what’s not working.
Healthy Relationships are Fluid
You might imagine a healthy relationship like a beautiful, full lake. Water pools into the lake from two separate sources. Those sources are the two people in the relationship. In other words, each of those two people live independent lives and take responsibility for the ups and downs in their own life. The lake is where two people connect emotionally, intellectually, physically, and perhaps spiritually. In this relationship, there are clear and healthy boundaries that are fluid and change depending upon the situation. A healthy relationship might experience boundaries that are:
The trouble is if you’ve been in the same relationship for many years, you may have a hard time recognizing what is unhealthy between you. Or you might know exactly what’s wrong, but not sure how to change it. In other situations, you might be able and willing to change, but perhaps your partner is not. Here’s where couples counseling can help.
Therapy is meant to be an experience that illicits courage, insight, and inspiration to change. And it’s no different in couples counseling. If both partners are willing and able to see a couples therapist, change is possible. In fact, in some cases, even if one person is willing to engage in therapy, that too can help make a difference in a relationship. Here’s how couples therapy can help:
Many couples try to work on their relationships but do not find lasting success. If you’re ready to invite a professional to assist you and your partner in healing your relationship, contact Ventura Community Counseling today.