Why do some people prefer their pets over people? If you think about it, pets are safer, less demanding, don’t argue, and provide comfort and love. When you’ve been hurt, rejected, disappointed, or abused by people your tendency is to mistrust and stay disconnected. Some have mastered the skill of relating to others superficially and avoid deeper attachment and connections. They approach relationships with their protective armor and maintain a solid and impenetrable wall. Others may struggle with social anxiety and find relationships to be incredibly stressful. Avoiding relationships may also be related to not wanting to give up any control or not wanting to have any demands placed on you.
The reality is that all relationships can be difficult, stressful, conflictual, and at times scary. We run the risk of experiencing hurt feelings, anger, rejection, and disappointment which is true even for healthy relationships. Being able to have deep and intimate relationships requires one to be vulnerable, transparent, and emotionally expressive. Letting others in and being open enables greater connection. All relationships have conflict, but how you handle it determines the outcome. Our relationships require consistent maintenance and nurture in order to thrive and survive. When we put our relationship on “auto pilot” or allow it to get only the scraps eventually it will die. In order for our relationships to flourish we need to accept that we’ll experience good and bad feelings throughout the lifetime of the connection. The key to successful relationships is learning to talk through negative emotions respectfully while staying attached.
While relationships tend to be messy, complicated, and sometimes difficult, they are also the greatest source of happiness and joy. Our ability to work through the tough times, take responsibility for our actions, apologize, forgive and let go can create a stronger connection. When we accept our differences, communicate constructively, and learn to compromise we build trust and security. Lastly, when we manage or, when possible, resolve conflict without sweeping it under the rug or lashing out we grow in our level of intimacy. Life begins and ends with relationships; how are you doing with yours?