A Healthy Relationship Requires Give and Take

healthy relationships
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Does this woman’s lament sound familiar? She’s been waiting for so long for love to finally enter into her life and now that it has arrived, she’s depressed.

Her boyfriend is terrific; he’s open, caring, and indeed, everything that she’s truly wanted in a man. Now that she doesn’t feel blissful, she starting to worry that there might be something wrong with her.

Perhaps it had something to do with a conflict of desires. She began feeling depressed after she had spent a wonderful weekend with her boyfriend.

After an early dinner, he wanted to watch a movie, but she wanted to catch up with her workouts at the gym. He seemed disappointed, so she consented to watching the movie with him.

That’s when she started to feel depressed, but surely it wasn’t simply because she couldn’t go to the gym. In fact, she enjoyed watching the movie with her boyfriend because she enjoyed his company (although a part of her wanted to keep up with her workouts). She had a conflict of desires.

Unfortunately, she made her boyfriend’s feelings and desires more important than her own due to a fear of causing upset feelings. Perhaps if she had really wanted to watch the movie more than going to the gym, she wouldn’t have felt depressed afterwards.

She was worried that he would be angry at her and withdraw from her if she didn’t give in to his desires. In short, she was willing to lose herself rather than to lose him.

Unfortunately, the therapist she was seeing made matters worse by telling her that, by accommodating her partner’s desires, she was in fact, attempting to “control” his feelings and behavior! The therapist told her that by accommodating her partner’s feelings, she was catering to the “child” within him, rather than catering to the needs of her own inner child!

The fact is that, in any healthy relationship, we must learn to accommodate our partners desires, as well as to accomodate our own. This is not always easy!

In fact, it can be a delicate balancing act. How do you know when your partner is making reasonable or unreasonable demands?

There must be a give-and-take in all relationships. Sometimes, you must go out of your way to accommodate your partner’s reasonable requests, while at other times you must put your own needs and considerations first. If you bend too far in the direction of your partner’s wishes, resentment can result, but if you focus too much on your own needs, you may experience a feeling of guilt.

This is why there must be a balance in all things. Sometimes, it is necessary to sacrifice your own desires to accommodate your partners reasonable requests (with emphasis being placed on the word “reasonable”) and sometimes you must put yourself first and foremost.

Of course, it is possible for one partner to attempt to control another excessively through expressions of hurt and disappointment. Such relationships may become dysfunctional. Even in healthy relationships, however, sometimes you will have to let go of responsibility for your partner’s feelings and take responsibility of your own.


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