One of the primary challenges people face in modern day relationships is our expectation from partners. Esther Perel in her book ‘Mating in captivity’ says, “Today we expect one person to give us what once an entire village used to provide.”
If we used to expect our relationship to provide security, now we also expect it to provide freedom and adventure. If a relationship was about unity and closeness, now it is also about individuation and maintaining a healthy distance.
The underlying challenge is that most of us have painful experiences either with getting close or getting separate. Most of which might have happened during the earlier stages of our life which we may not be aware of today. If we expect our partners to fulfil those needs which were not met in our childhood, it will complicate the relationship and make it difficult to nurture a fulfilling intimate relationship.
In the book ‘Centering and the art of Intimacy’ Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks states that the following issues seem to emerge from ‘nowhere’ as people got closer in relationships.
A deep fear of being abandoned
The fear of being overwhelmed, engulfed
Rage about childhood violations
A desire to be taken care of completely by the other person
Hypersensitivity to criticism
Though we may not be able to avoid some of these challenges, it is how we deal with them that makes or breaks a relationship. It is important that we learn to take care of ourselves, our emotional needs. While our partners could support us, it is not their job to complete us or parent us.
Each time we confront a challenge, before blaming our partner and grabbing the role of a victim, if we could own the challenge and use it as a gateway to self-discovery. If we could risk saying things we were scared to say and feel feelings we were scared to feel, we will enter a new world of intimacy.