When the Unpleasant Feelings Emerge

love and hate

In a truly intimate relationship, the rejections, irritations, and disappointments are as much a part of loving as are the securities, pleasures, and dreams.  No marriage is made in heaven and no relationship is built on only the heavenly feelings.  But no one ever forewarns us about the trials and tribulations.     Instead we believe that if it’s really love it will be sunny days forever, with no dark clouds to muddy up the horizon.  After all, we were always told that love is never having to say you’re sorry.

So, with our trusty aphorisms tucked deep within our hearts, we rush off to find the perfect love or, at least, a lover who will never hurt us.  And we begin spending a lot of time and energy just trying to avoid any unpleasantness in our newly-found relationship.

What never bothered our partner before, nor bothered us about our partner can become exasperating.  We notice he isn’t paying attention when we are talking (has he ever?).  Or she has left the door open to welcome the flies again (such a generous spirit).  Each morning he leaves her lists of things to do (does he think he is her boss?).  She tells him he is headed for diabetes if he doesn’t lose some of that weight (as if she has any control over this).  These little quirks and sins against the relationship gradually slip out, with the cumulative effect being disillusionment, resentment, and hurt.  What was comingled starts becoming unmingled.

Often, when this inevitable unpleasantness creeps into the relationship, we don’t know how to deal with it.  We leave our lover (either emotionally or physically), hoping to find a new love, one which will finally measure up to our ideal. Anyone who has ever been left by a lover knows that love hurts but, by then, it’s too late.

But, it doesn’t have to be the end of the relationship, nor does it have to be a relationship of shared misery. You could use your unpleasant feelings to begin a conversation with your partner.  This conversation can help each of you understand the other’s point of view, and even draw you closer together.  Or you could realize that you can get past the irritation into a more accepting attitude towards your partner and yourself.  Yes, sometimes your partner is selfish and sometimes you can be selfish.  So, it is important to let your partner know how his or her behavior affects you.  But it is up to your partner to change this behavior, not up to you to constantly complain about it. So why not just accept your flawed partner instead of trying to change him or her?

Is It Men or Women Who Fall the Hardest After a Break-up?

a-romantic-enters-the-world_art

Ever since the early 1970s, psychologists have found that men tend to fall in love more quickly and they hold on to a waning affair more so than do women.1   But what happens when there is a break-up?

It was a man, Lord Byron, who wrote, “Man’s love is of man’s life a thing apart, ’tis woman’s whole existence.”  Still today, most men and women would agree with this statement. Men seem to be able to do without a loving relationship better than women, who seem to derive their life out of their loving relationships.

Yet psychologists have shown that it is men who cannot live without love. After the break-up of a relationship men feel lonelier, obsessed with what went wrong, and depressed than do women. 2

Whether the relationship lasted only a few years of dating or a long time with marriage, many of the responses seem to be the same.3   Women initially are in emotional pain but they recover more quickly.  Men never fully recover—they simply move on to try a do-over.

Differences between women and men in response to a break-up are related to at least three important factors: (a) who initiates the break-up, (b) the amount of obsessing and insecurity, (c) the degree of social support.4   In longer-term relationships, it is the woman who initiates the break-up 69% of the time.5  Women tend to be more aware than men when a relationship is not satisfying and thus take action, especially if there is the possibility of another relationship that looks like it might be more satisfying.6   Men tend to not be in touch with or express their feeling as much as women.  The feelings men sometimes acknowledge are anger or confusion rather than sadness about the loss.7   Then they either try to ignore the situation or replace the loss but sometimes they find the loss is irreplaceable.  Both genders obsess about what they could have done differently to save the relationship, but men tend to continue obsessing longer than women.8   Maybe this is because the man feels it was his fault that he got dumped.  Yes, both genders need to know the part they played in the relationship not succeeding so that they don’t make the same mistakes the next time around.  But, at some point, one has to stop obsessing and move on.

Moving on, then, is easier when one has a good system of social support, which women tend to have more often than do men.  Men seem to not talk to their friends about their difficulties as much as do women.  Keeping all of one’s thoughts and feelings to oneself then can delay the ability to move on.

References

1.Kanin, E.J., Davidson, D.K.D., Scheck, S.R. (1970). A research note on male-female differentials in the experience of heterosexual love. The Journal of Sex Research, 6,64-72

Hill, C. T., Rubin, Z., Peplau, A. (1976). From breakups before marriage:  The end of   103 affairs. Journal of Social Issues, 32, 1, 147-168.

Rosenfeld, M.J., Thomas, R.J. & Falcon, M. (2015). How couples meet and stay   together. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Libraries.

2. Hill, C. T., Rubin, Z., Peplau, A. (1976). From breakups before marriage: The end of  103 affairs. Journal of Social Issues, 32, 1, 147-168.

Morris, C.E., Reiber, C., Roman, E. (2015). Quantitative sex differences in response to the dissolution of a romantic relationship. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, 9,4, 270- 283.

3.Morris, C.E., Reiber, C., Roman, E. (2015). Quantitative sex differences in response to the dissolution of a romantic relationship. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, 9,4, 270-283.

Rosenfeld, M.J., Thomas, R.J. & Falcon, M. (2015). How couples meet and stay together. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Libraries.

4.Sweeney, M.M. (2002). Remarriage and the nature of divorce: Does it matter which spouse chose to leave? Journal of Family Issues, 23,3, 410-440.

Morris, C.E., Reiber, C., Roman, E. (2015). Quantitative sex differences in response to the dissolution of a romantic relationship. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, 9,4, 270-283.

Rosenfeld, M.J., Thomas, R.J. & Falcon, M. (2015). How couples meet and stay together. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Libraries.

5. Rosenfeld, M.J., Thomas, R.J. & Falcon, M. (2015). How couples meet and stay together.    Stanford, CA: Stanford University Libraries.

6.Sweeney, M.M. (2002). Remarriage and the nature of divorce: Does it matter which spouse chose to leave? Journal of Family Issues, 23,3, 410-440.

7.Morris, C.E., Reiber, C., Roman, E. (2015). Quantitative sex differences in response to the dissolution of a romantic relationship. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, 9,4, 270-283.