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?

When Your Feelings Change Are You No Longer in Love?

Change

We expect our feelings never to change.  We are constantly presented with the image of true love as an unchanging state of bliss where the initial feelings of passion, togetherness, and tender caring are the only feelings we should have if we are in love.  Love becomes only the “lovey” feelings.  After all, it shouldn’t be too much to ask for no disappointment from broken promises nor ambivalence about our commitment.  Should it?  If it is real love, we expect we will always be “in love”.

Yet, the reality is that to be in love is to feel overwhelmed by a rush of conflicting feelings.  At the very moment we meet, and throughout the relationship, we feel both secure and scared, both needed and vulnerable, both valued and misunderstood.

Nevertheless, we resist recognizing all the feelings connected with loving.  We hide some of our feelings from ourselves as well as from our partner.  When we are feeling the excited high from passionate love, we don’t want to think about our equally compelling feeling of being out of control.  It is too scary to consider that falling in love also means falling into a state of vulnerability.  Therefore, we stroll together along new paths, not noticing the hidden holes we might fall into.

Moreover, we use one phrase, “I love you”, to describe all the feelings we are experiencing.  We connect these magical words with only feeling secure, needed and valued.  So, when the scared, vulnerable, and misunderstood feelings emerge we conclude we are no longer in love.  No longer do we say or hear those tender words.  We end the relationship and we end up being losers in love.

It is only belatedly that we discover that love is not what we were told it would be, nor just the feelings we had at the beginning of the relationship.  We begin to realize that the way to love is along a very rocky road and that our feelings when we are on this road will constantly change.