Why Your Relationships Don't Last
Part One: How to stop sabotaging once the honeymoon stage wears off.
Posted Jun 26, 2019
I know this title is super harsh, but this is an important read. If something below ignites a flame of anger inside you, use that to further navigate through the root of that emotional stimulation. Often, when we are secure about something, we don't get angry or defensive. If you experience any of these emotional reactions, be kind to yourself.
If anyone reading this has been in a relationship for over six months (give or take however long may need to pass before you feel the weight of normalcy), you’ve experienced this: The novelty wears off, the rose-colored glasses are shattered, and you’re sharing your life with another flawed, fallible, perfectly imperfect human being.
Congratulations! Welcome to your real relationship.
Human beings are wired for connection. So wired, in fact, that at times we try to force relationships with people with whom we don’t have a sustainable connection. We push ourselves together like mismatched puzzle pieces and get frustrated at the other person when the corners don’t quite fit. We get angry at ourselves for consistently picking the “wrong person.”
In all of our relationships, despite all the problems we may point out in our partners, the only common denominator is us. We are the only person we continuously bring along into each new relationship.
Relationships are hard. We know this. But the core issues that reside in each of us, ranging from fear of abandonment to overly attached and controlling patterns, will remain active factors in our relationships until we have the courage and the resources to deal with and work through them.
This post focuses on the transition from “the honeymoon stage” to the more “real” part of a relationship—the feelings of monotony and boredom, the urge to self-sabotage or create chaos, the thoughts of seeking excitement and novelty elsewhere, the questioning of you or your partner's choices, the tendency to get frustrated at their habits, behaviors, and thought processes, and so on.
Most humans have a difficult time with this transition. While I don't always believe that with age comes wisdom, the reality is that the more relationships we've walked through, hopefully, the less surprising this stark transition will be. The reasons behind these transitional difficulties, however, are many and varied.
Let’s go through some of my case conceptualizations. Keep in mind that all of these observations are based on my own personal or professional experiences, and by no means are a comprehensive summary of individuals in relationships. Chances are high that you'll relate to at least one of these cases listed below, though.
1. The Excitement Seeker
First, we have the excitement seeker. The person who loves to fall in love, gets a rush from the endorphins, the oxytocin, and the attention, and feels depleted and sometimes empty when the excitement wears off. This person is prone to be in a multitude of relationships over a short period of time. In some cases, these relationships will overlap.
This person tends to have emotional or physical affairs, gleaning worth and security by falling hopelessly for someone who is out of their reach. When the relationship gets “boring,” or the initial infatuation and lust begin to fizzle, this person gets antsy. He or she may actively self-sabotage the relationship or concoct reasons for its demise. This person may never be satisfied in a relationship and will consistently be looking for the next best thing. The problem is seldom the partner, but rather lies within the individual who has an insatiable appetite for newness.
This person may have had a lifetime of inconsistency and adrenaline spikes. We can often find that this individual was a child of divorce, living in different houses throughout their childhoods, or someone who has experienced a significant amount of chaos throughout their life. At a certain point, chaos, excitement, and adrenaline become normal for the brain. They become the baseline, and anything other than that can be identified as boring.
There is a reason why, in recovery from substances, codependency, and sex, “boredom” is one of the most common triggers. In my opinion, boredom is simply the inability to sit with the self. A stable life feels like a boring, monotonous one, thus we seek chaos and excitement. Unfortunately for this type of person, we cannot think our way out of these deeply rooted patterns of behavior.
Formal therapy or some kind of process of introspection and self-improvement. I'd prefer the former, as we often can't think our way out of our own dysfunction. Much of our behavior has become muscle memory. Just like a therapist cannot "therapize" themselves, or a doctor cannot perform surgery on themselves, an individual with relationship dysfunction and patterns of self-sabotage cannot think their way out of it.
We will continue to construct the same patterns in our relationships if we don’t take some time off and do the difficult work. So yes, I'm encouraging you to stop dating. Stop seeking. Your appetite for excitement and novelty is insatiable at this point in time. It doesn’t matter if you find your “perfect person”; you will continuously self-destruct with your own lack of impulse control and tendency towards novelty and excitement. This isn’t because you’re a bad person. It’s quite literally programmed into your brain chemistry. Forgive yourself, take some action, and get healthy. You may think, “Therapy? That’s a little much.” And I mean this as sincerely as possible: Let me know when you change the patterns in your relationship on your own. Seriously. I want to know.
Next: Part 2 — "I'm Bad at Commitment"