When we look at this question, I would imagine that we think we know a lot about the subject. After some consideration, however, I believe we would find out that we know less than what we think we do. This is because have been sold a myth by the cinema and television industries about love, and how it should be. We chase an ideal, and always end up with a disappointing human.

We see relationship struggles on the increase, and we no longer know how to relate to each other. Divorce is on the increase almost everywhere, and this is compounded by the rapidly growing dating industry. Each dating website or company offers to match you with your perfect mate, and promises that life will be happy ever after. All of this, with very little effort on your part- turn up, look beautiful and voila! The false dream that we chase, coupled with the proliferation of match making avenues, demonstrates to us how badly we actually relate to each other.

The Relationship Myth

Think of your favorite story from childhood or your favorite film. Typically in these fictional renditions of relationships and love you will find the myth about how easy it is to be found, and loved by a charming prince. These portrayals are extremely stereotypical and there is never discussion of problems, character flaws, hardships or obstacles to be overcome. It is assumed that their strong relationship will suffice.

Children's stories focus in on beautiful princesses and girls that win the heart of their admirer. The couple fall madly in love at first glance and their hearts immediate connect with no question that they will be together forever. The suitor is everything the girl could want and she compliments him completely.

Boys are told that they are supposed to be strong, brave and handsome and then they can find their perfect princess and rescue her forever. Their relationship will be one where the man is the head of the household with a loving partner that acknowledges him in every way, fulfilling every one of his needs without question.

While most men and women are aware that a prince or princess is not likely to be their mate, they are still seeking the essence of the myth. They want a lover, partner and a spouse that is a complete fantasy.

Divorce, disagreements and differences are not part of this perfect picture. However, they are all a part of real life. The reality is that all couples will have challenges to face, complications in their relationship and conflict on many levels. Since many people cannot accept anything other than the fantasy these challenges and hardships in the relationship become unbearable. The lack of discussion about how tough relationships can be and what we expect going into a relationship contributes to this lack of understanding about how to address problems when they arise.

One of the major issues that all individuals seeking a mate, partner or spouse face is an unconscious desire to work through our relationship issues of the past. This is all done subconsciously, but it is crucial in understanding why we choose the people we want to be in a relationship with.

If you think back on your first significant relationship, which is the one with your parents or parental figure, you may be able to notice a theme or trend in your current adult relationships. Perhaps a man may find he is attracted to overbearing, demanding, helpless or controlling women. In thinking back to his mother he may see that her behaviours were needy, clingy, authoritative or controlling. This seems to make little sense at first since these are the very characteristics that you hoped to never see in your partner. Yet, somehow, your unconscious mind seeks out that exact replica in the partners you choose as an adult.

Women that have repetitive relationships with alcoholics, abusive or absent men may be mirroring their father's behaviour. This is not a conscious choice; rather it is our subconscious minds trying to heal issues that we carry from the primary relationship. Unless we are able to look at the patterns in the relationship and understand the need for change we are likely to repeat them over and over again.

What Part Do Hormones Play?

Our hormones play a trick on us in the initial phases of the relationship. The old saying that love is blind has a scientific basis.

When we first meet a person that we are attracted to, we physically produce chemicals and hormones that make us feel good about the relationship. These same hormones also allow us to see what we want to see in the person, and everyone is on their very best behaviour to impress their prospective new partner. These hormones last approximately six to nine months. Originally, this is the amount of time it should take to become pregnant, and then when the birth happens, our bodies produce another set of hormones to bond the family unit together around caring for the child.

Most relationships no longer occur in this restricted period of time, allowing us to actually get a close look at who we are partnered with. You may begin to see their faults after the initial hormone cocktail has worn off, causing the breakdown of the relationship and feelings of disappointment, anger and even hurt. You may also continue to mask your true feelings and keep up a false pretence. This may be a way to extend the relationship by playing the role society says that we should, although this can lead to deep feelings on loneliness.

Looking closely at why we choose the partners we choose is the first step in developing a comprehensive understanding of love and relationships. Remember that you may be looking for a partner to fill a void in your life or an area that you feel unfulfilled in. Do you look for a partner that makes you feel good about yourself while being unable to accept your own gifts and talents? Do you perhaps seek a partner that makes you feel complete but feel that your life is fragmented in other areas?

Look Within Before Looking Around

Becoming aware of which areas of your life are not as you wish them to be is the first step having a decent relationship with yourself. This is a complex process and one that takes honesty and courage as you spend time looking within. Once you identify the areas of need in your life you can work at accepting and loving yourself.

This allows the relationships you have with others to change as you no longer need to fill the void. When you have worked on yourself, you will find that you will be able to attract people that do not need you to complete them. You can find a person that is also independent and respects and loves themselves. This will give you both the opportunity to see each other honestly, without any false expectations, and work with what is in front of you.

Instead of trying to change them to meet your needs, they are allowed to be themselves. There is acceptance that all your habits, characteristics and little eccentricities are valued, respected and taken for what they are. You will both continue to grow individually, but you will also grow together as a couple in honesty, love and openness with each other.

It is obvious that this is the ideal not the norme. However, if we tried to work to this standard, we would be much happier as a species. This journey really does need to start with your own first steps in learning about where you need to grow and develop. Honestly assessing your inner thoughts and beliefs about yourself, others, relationships and interactions takes time and effort, but the results are truly life changing.

Instead of blaming others, society, pressures or the environment around us, we are beginning to understand that our own perspectives and misunderstandings about relationships are causing the problems. Looking for ways to love and accept ourselves will only increase our ability to do that with and for others, fostering true relationships that will weather the storms of life and stay strong, vibrant and loving.

Written by Caroline Nettle.

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Author's Bio: 

Caroline Nettle is passionate about healing, recovery, and assisting others to grow. Her website Spiritual Growth Tools is the culmination of many years of seeking answers about her own health and well-being, and studying the human condition. She writes articles, is a healer and gives talks about subjects relating to spiritual growth and personal development.
She is an avid reader and researcher and on her international travels, she came across many weird and wonderful ways to make the human experience more enjoyable. Some of them seemed a little comical, and some of them downright strange, but some of them had a profound effect on her health and well-being, and they inspired her to want to create Spiritual Growth Tools, so that she could share what she learned.
Spiritual Growth Tools is an online resources dedicated to spiritual growth and personal development. It aims to provide resources and information to assist others on their journey to inner peace, vitality, and a happier, healthier lifestyle!
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