Dr All of us want a good relationship whether it is a family relationship, friendship, husband and wife relationship, love relationship, sibling relationship, live-in relationship or a long distance relationship. But the fact is that we struggle in our relationships- we cannot be in them and yet we cannot be without them. Relationship problems usually come up not because people are bad but due to a lack of understanding about their own self and others.

In any relationship, both persons based on their subconscious needs and life experiences carry a fantasy of an ‘ideal other’ and when the real person whom they are relating to does not match this fantasy (which is often the case), problems begin. There is a pressure on the partner to change and come close to this fantasy. Because people wish to be accepted and loved for what they are a demand to change shakes their self. Individuals cope with these traumatic demands in two ways- either by rebelling against or complying with them. In the process one or both partners feel resentful and dismayed and the relationship becomes a burden.

Small everyday fights over being late, not buying a present, keeping the towel on the bed, watching TV, talking over the phone, spending time with friends happen not because people are irrational but because they are hurt. These minor instances stir up intense feelings of being abandoned which people carry from their past relationships into the current one. Due to these emotions, needs and past experiences people are highly focused on themselves and unable to see the other’s point of view.

Psychotherapy can help people in becoming more aware about their needs, feelings and fantasies. This enables them to handle these in more adaptive ways, seeing the other person in a clearer light and improving the relationship.

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