In a previous article, we talked about who and what we’re attracted to, and how so many people find themselves attracted to those that fulfill a need for them. I encourage you to read the article for background, but to summarize, often we find ourselves attracted to mates that we feel have something we lack. For example, if we lack confidence in ourselves, then we may be attracted to someone that is confident, because we are essentially living out our self-doubts through them.
This can pose several challenges, not the least of which is that we project onto them that doubt, and expect them to perform their behaviors the way we would if we had those same qualities.
Furthermore, in some cases we may find that we are upset with our partner because of different interpretations of those very same qualities. For example, you may find that you were attracted to your husband for his “masculinity” and “powerful stature” but then you become upset with him because his confidence feels like control. In that sense, you were attracted to him for his confidence, and then upset with him for that very same confidence. All of these challenges can affect the health of our relationships.
Learning to Identify These Issues to Solve Them
One of the first steps to overcoming these issues is to learn to identify them in yourself. During couples counseling, we meet both individually and separately to determine what these issues are, why they have occurred, and what we need to do in order to overcome them.
But what we’re ultimately looking at is how to appreciate these features in our partners. By becoming more aware of our own needs and why we selected that person as a partner in the first place, we can start to make headway into figuring out how to APPRECIATE them for those personality traits, rather than RESENT them for it.
Fixing Those Traits in Ourselves Help Us Understand Our Relationships
In addition, one of the most important steps is to start taking a look at yourself. For example, if you picked your partner because they were confident, and you struggle with confidence, then taking action to improve your own confidence can then take that dependency off of your partner. No longer will you need to live that confidence through them, which allows you to start learning about them and appreciating them more, rather than living through them.
These steps will start to help you create a relationship that is based on who the person is, not what your needs are, and ultimately you’ll be able to appreciate the other person for what they bring to the relationship, rather than what you want them to bring to you.