Affective relationships give us a sense of purpose and provide added meanings to our lives, actions, and choices, as they create powerful motivations to set and pursue goals which aim is that of maintaining them. They affect us deeply, offering us opportunities to feel and express emotions that come from our universal need to be in intimate relationships where we love and are loved.
Sharing our experiences and emotions enriches us and helps us manage our uncomfortable emotions, better adapting to life’s challenges and partaking of the joys of life in deeper and fuller ways.
But what is this feeling we call love? Love is not a single feeling, but a complex of many emotions – tenderness, attraction, resentment, frustration, longing, respect, anger, admiration, disappointment, and so on – that are felt at different times with different intensity.
When we are in a good place with our partner, we mostly feel the wish to be together, as the sexual attraction and the feelings of comfort and security are the ones we are most aware of. After we had an argument, on the other hand, we may be hurt and frustrated, upset and disappointed and may fear things will never again be the same as before. We may be angry and focus on our partner’s negative traits. This anger, in turn, keeps us apart. When we feel emotionally distant from one another, we may feel numb and out of touch with our emotions. We may not be interested in exploring what is going on, as some of our feelings are turned off. Or, we may experience deep longing and sadness. When we feel rejected, as when our love is unrequited, we panic and feel deeply hurt. We are in agony, and cannot soothe ourselves or see anything positive in any other area of our lives.
As we go through different life experiences, we are affected and changed by them, each generating different feelings and reactions in us. To go through these changes is part and parcel of being alive, as every experience brings with it different feelings and throws a different light on how we experience life and who we are. So, no wonder why people in intimate love relationships are at times confused and dismayed by the many emotional changes they and their partners undergo during the course of their relationship, and afraid for their future together!
Maintaining a loved relationship is a balancing act, at times challenging, at times frustrating, but always worthwhile. At times, to stay connected with a loved one seems like an impossible task, particularly when we are struggling with some personal emotional issues that reduce our abilities to stay connected and increase our anxieties and fears.
Daniela Roher, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist in private practice with offices in Carefree, AZ and in Scottsdale, AZ. Daniela has worked in this field helping individuals and couples better understand their emotions and teaching them how to manage and regulate them, without letting them get overwhelming or frightening. She has been in this profession for over thirty years, both in Europe and the U.S. Aside from her reputation as a clinician, Daniela has developed a national reputation with her blog.