To Change My Relationship With My Unhappy Parents
6 Ways Your Relationship With Your Parents Changes From Your 20s To Your 30s
I've always had an incredibly close, wildly emotional, deeply-loaded relationship with my parents.
Real talk: I wasn't the easiest kid in the world to raise.
As a teenager, I was a complicated closeted lesbian who secretly abused hard drugs and alcohol. I smoked cigarettes out the window of my bedroom, and would hotbox my closet.
I got terrible, terrible grades. I didn't play sports or participate in any after-school activities.
I just wanted to be an actress, which is every parent's nightmare career for a child.
Why? Oh, I don't know… maybe because Hollywood beauty standards will give any nice girl an eating disorder, and because the business is full of blood-sucking energy vampires?
In my 20s, I cleaned up my act a bit. But I was still no walk in the fucking park, baby.I came the closet… which my parents were totally OK with, but lez be real: Realizing your red-lipstick-wearing daughter is a surefire dyke is a harrowing, confusing experience, even for the most liberal of parents.
Realizing your red-lipstick-wearing daughter is a surefire dyke is a harrowing, confusing experience.
I was constantly blowing money, and all too often needed their assistance to get deep financial holes.
I had extreme career highs and extreme career lows. I almost overdosed on Xanax in my childhood bedroom when I was 21 years old.
Yeah, that was a total blast for all of us: I'm sure they fully enjoyed having to throw their daughter in a freezing cold shower.
I lived in their beautiful house with my goddamn girlfriend, for Christ's sake! They had two lesbian lovers shacking up for free in their Florida home, devouring their fridge full of nice “Whole Foods” type food.
My parents have been amazing, supportive, wonderful, mystical creatures of stability through it all. They deserve a medal for what I've put them through.
For real, mom: One day, I'll be mega rich and buy you a $20,000 orange Hermes Birkin bag to make up for all the trauma.
The trouble is, most narcissistic 20-somethings, I didn't think I was a difficult kid at all.What can I say? I was a super entitled Millennial, and I thought I was some sort of GIFT to my parents. Now, I see it's the other way around.
My parents are a prize that I've won; I'm not their pretty show pony.
Now that I'm 30, there has been a dramatic shift in my dynamic with both my parents. It's happened to most of my friends as well.
As we become real, independent, thriving adults, our relationship with our parents drastically changes.
As we become real, independent, thriving adults, our relationship with our parents drastically changes.
And darling, you're not a real adult in your 20s: You're just not.
Even if you're making crazy money, your 20s are a strange adult adolescence: You're not a teenager anymore, but you're also not quite an adult yet.
Being a grown-up is so shiny and new, you're still figuring out how to navigate the dark and stormy waters of adulthood. Just those awkward, haphazard tween years, it's a great period of discomfort.
As you get into your 30s and settle into your grown-upness, things really shift.
1. In your 20s, your parents are superheroes. In your 30s, they're human beings
I'll never forget the day I looked at my mother – who has been my ICON my entire life – as a woman, as opposed to a superhero goddess who had the answers to everything.
We were discussing sex, of all things.
I don't know how it happened: I think I was asking her if she thought I should have sex with this girl I d right away or not. (We're close.)
Somewhere in the musings, my mother revealed how often her and my father have sex. (I know this is weird to some of you, but I'm giving it to you real, babes.)I dramatically threw my hands over my ears and yelped, “MOM, I DON'T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR SEX LIFE! EWWWWWW.”
My mother looked hurt. I had never in my life seen my powerhouse of a mother – the notorious former supermodel Lynn Barrie – look remotely vulnerable. Now, she looked a lost puppy. I was starting to feel feelings.
Mother darling took a sip of her tea and said, “You know, Zara, I'm a woman too.”
Suddenly, a lightbulb went off in my self-involved, late 20s brain:
Holy shit! My mother is a woman: a complex, multifaceted woman, who is capable of having her feelings hurt.She has a SEX drive all women, and she can be vulnerable me.
I wanted to hug her and tell her I was so sorry for undermining her as a woman.
From that moment on, even though I still idolize and respect the hell my parents, I looked at my parents as human beings, as opposed to superheroes.
I saw my dad through a whole new lens, too. He was no longer the master authority on everything, or an invincible man who could rescue me from all harm.
All of a sudden, I saw the great pressure my dad has been faced with the past four decades, for being the father of four complicated, creative children. The great weight of the pressure he was under felt palpable to me.
And just that, my parents became human.
And when your parents are human, you treat them differently: You treat them with a greater sensitivity because you know that un superheroes, human beings can get hurt.
And unless you're a sociopath, nothing is worse than hurting a human… especially a human you love with all your heart.
In my 20s, my parents were still my authority figures because I was not only dependent on them financially, but emotionally too.
Whenever you're dependent on another person for your survival, the person becomes an authority figure. And you're fueled with the desire to please your authority figures at whatever cost: It's that hardass teacher in high school you wanted to prove your worth to.
I constantly wanted to impress both my parents and get that “A+” perfect child grade. I even tried to get into the cosmetics industry my dad because I wanted to make him proud… his guidance had served me in some way.
GiphyWhen I reached 30, I became a totally independent entity. I finally got that complicated Saturn return shit and was confident in my career as a writer.
This newfound confidence and financial stability created a massive shift in my relationship with them.
I still ask them for advice and guidance all the time, but I no longer do things exclusively because they tell me to do them.
They're these really cool, wise mentors who can give me their two cents… and I'm beyond grateful for their two cents! But at the end of the day, I do what I feel is right.
Before, they were the CEOs of my life. Now, I'M the CEO, and they're my business advisors or something.
3. In your 20s, your parents give you advice. In your 30s, you end up giving them advice
In my 20s, I was constantly hounding my mother for life advice.
MOM, do I break up with HER?MOM, what do I wear to the first date?MOM, what do I DO WITH MY LIFE?
I would wail at her so much. I was constantly calling my poor mother, demanding she provide me with an EXACT blueprint for my life.
And my mother, who happens to be extraordinarily talented at the art of giving advice, was happy to tell me what to do.
When I hit 30, I began to think, “Shit! My poor mother is always giving everyone else advice, but no one ever listens to her.”
I started to ask her questions:
Mom, are you really authentically happy?Mom, are you sure you want to wear THAT outfit to the event?
And suddenly, I began guiding my mother.I would encourage her to cut toxic people her life. I would tell her how to manage her needy friends, and even tell her what designer bag to wear with what dress.
It's actually a really new, amazing layer we've added to our already amazing relationship. It's more of a give and take, as opposed to an “I'm going to suck you dry because I'm 23 and selfish AF.”
4. In your 20s, you get drunk and party with your friends. In your 30s, your parents are your favorite people to party with
In my 20s, I loved to hang out with my parents… but I wanted to ~party~ with my friends. I would sit at dinner with them, furiously texting my friends under the table to scheme about what shitty club we should go to later.
In my 30s, I much prefer to party with my parents over my friends. I love to get a little tossed with my parents.
We gossip about our other relatives, I ask them deep questions about their relationship and I blab to them about feminism and other political ideas I'm passionate about.
In my 30s, I much prefer to party with my parents over my friends.
When you're in your 20s, partying is all about going and being seen by the masses. It's about the fishnets, the lipstick and the faux fur vest. It's about the promoters, the cocktails, the drugs and the hookups.
Once I hit 30, I realized how tiresome all of that bullshit was. If I'm going to waste my precious caloric intake (I know, I'm one “those” girls) on booze, I want to be buzzed around people I adore.
And nothing is more fun than drinking (nice) champagne with my parents at a civilized restaurant, talking REAL life shit… not vapid club bullshit.
5. In your 20s, your parents worry about you constantly. In your 30s, you worry about THEM constantly
In my 20s, my parents were forever worried about me.
“You didn't text me when you got home,” my mother would scream into my voicemail, teeming with fear that I'd gotten in the car with a drunk driver (which for the record, I only did once).
Oh, how things have changed. Now that I see my parents as mere mortals, I worry about them constantly.
“Do you think dad is truly happy?” I'll ponder to my brother over the phone.
“I haven't heard from mom in 12 hours, is everything OK?” I'll furiously text my sister, my head spinning with the dark thoughts about what could possibly have happened to her.
I guess I just realize they aren't going to be around forever. And my greatest fear in the world is losing them.
6. In your 20s, you're irritated with their nagging. In your 30s, you wish they had nagged you more
“Why can't I just have, , a NORMAL conversation with you guys, without you nagging me about HEALTH INSURANCE? I'm just trying to live my life!” I would weep over the phone to my parents when they would nag me about doing adult things.
This is the greatest change I've experienced. I appreciate all the nagging they did in my 20s, but I ALSO realize it wasn't nagging at all. They're just two fantastic creatures encouraging their child to get it together so she can live her best adult life.
I appreciate all the nagging they did in my 20s, but I ALSO realize it wasn't nagging at all.
Sometimes, I even wish they had nagged me more. Maybe if they had, I wouldn't be such a reckless spender.
But in the end, I'm just full of so much sweeping gratitude for all the nagging, lecturing and advice they gave me. I realize not everyone has parents who care enough about them to nag them.A lot of adults – my closest friends even – have had to navigate adulthood all alone. But I didn't.
I've had this safety blanket of love keeping me safe and warm my entire life. I had selfless parents who cared enough about me to give me a hard time because they believed in all I could accomplish.
And you know what? Now that I have shit (sort of) together, I deeply miss the incessant nagging.
If you really think about it, nagging is the ultimate way to express your love for another person.
If you aren't nagged, you're not loved. My parents taught me that beautiful life lesson, and it's served me in all of my relationships.
How I Found Peace in My Relationship with My Parents, Part 1: A Child’s Wish
This is part 1 of my 4-part series on how to improve your relationship with your parents.
(Jul 12, ’11) – Some of you may have noticed that I’ve never written about my parents or my relationship with them. It’s not by intention; just that there’s never been a reason to write about it. That is, until recently, as I start gaining resolution in new areas of my life. Today’s post marks the first post where I share in detail about this as-of-yet unknown side of my life.
I foresee this to be the first in many posts to come where I share more of the inner sides of my life.
With PE, I want to create a common, safe space where every single one of us is free to openly discuss about our vulnerabilities, our deepest desires, our fears, and our passions, without judgment or discernment by anyone. I want all of us not to be afraid to say what we’re feeling on the inside.
Where others may see the sharing of one’s emotions and desires as being weak and vulnerable, I see this as a strength, because it is from our emotions that we draw our greatest power in life. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.To show our emotions, to be vulnerable, to open ourselves fully, without holding back, is the most beautiful thing we can ever do. I think it is by bearing yourself that you progress in your growth and become a stronger person.
The more you open yourself up, the more you’ll grow.
I look forward to connecting with more of you in this journey of life ahead. Here’s to an extremely exciting journey ahead.
9 signs that your partner has an unhealthy relationship with their parents — and how it could affect yours
Relationships that you and your partner have with the other people in your life can also impact the relationship between the two of you. Relationships with family and long-time friends can be particularly influential because you often are already in established routines and your relationship has a specific dynamic. It can be difficult to change those things when you meet someone new.
If your partner has an unhealthy relationship with their parent, it could actually be hurting the one between the two of you. The signs can be subtle, but if you see them, having an honest conversation with your partner or including a therapist in the conversation as well is important.
They don't institute or enforce any boundaries
Boundaries in any relationship are exceedingly important and that includes a relationship with parents.
“Boundaries are such an important part of any alliance a couple makes with one another as this is entirely related to trust and feelings of partnership,” Allen Wagner, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, told INSIDER. “Partners often feel hurt and minimized by this experience.”
If your partner's not setting up boundaries with their parents, that can make you feel you're only second-best.
Your partner believes something about themselves that a parent told them, even though it's not entirely true
“If your partner has internalized what their parent has said about them or lives in accordance with how their parent has defined them even though that definition may not be completely accurate, they may have a limited self-concept of their own and look to you and your relationship to further define who they are,” Julie Williamson, LPC, NCC, RPT, a therapist at Abundant Life Counseling St. Louis, told INSIDER. “This could create codependency in the relationship.”
If your partner and their parent are in a codependent relationship, you can end up feeling left out and that makes you feel sort of boxed out in your relationship. Talking to your partner is very important.
“If your partner is internalizing their parent's negative and/or inaccurate assessment of them, you can validate and encourage the aspects of their own self-concept and individuality that shine through,” Williamson added. “Ultimately, if your partner is codependent, they will need to seek their own individual support for that, but you can set boundaries in order to prevent enabling their codependent behavior.”
You run the risk of getting in between the arguments of your partner and their parents. Netflix
Your partner and their parent argue all the time
If your partner and their parent argue all that time, that can place you squarely in the middle. Either you agree with your partner or you agree with your partner's parent, either way you lose.
“If someone has an unhealthy with their parent it is not your role to mediate. Be careful not to play both sides,” Nedra Glover Tawwab, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker, told INSIDER. “Talk to your spouse about trying a different approach with their parent instead of responding in their typical way.
Be creative about discussing how you'd your partner to respond to common issues with their parent. It's always a good idea to practice what they might say or do if … before being in the presence of their parent.
Be sure to process issues they have with their partner and explore better ways to handle the issue if it happens in the future.”
They talk about things with their parent before they speak with you
When your partner speaks to their parent about things before chatting about them with you, that's a sign that their relationship may be lacking boundaries. This can make you feel you're either not trusted or aren't seen as important as their parent is and that can really hurt.
“Help them see and acknowledge that this is going on, and talk about what healthy boundaries would look with their family,” Heidi McBain, MA, LMFT, LPC, RPT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, told INSIDER. “Then, start helping your partner set and maintain healthy boundaries with their parents, especially if and when they get pushback regarding this change in the relationship.”
It can make you feel less important if your partner tells things to their parents before you. CW via Netflix
Their parent gets to make all their big decisions
“When a person is talking to their parent multiple time daily, and use them as the primary strategic partner in decisions made in their personal life or professional life, this can hurt trust within the partnership immensely,” Wagner said.
If you're feeling your partner isn't running their own life because their parent is, it might be worth bringing that up with your partner, particularly if they seem to be unhappy with how things are going.
“Premarital counseling is a way to address this issue collaboratively at the outset, but if that did not happen, there are ways couples can be more organized in making their decisions collaboratively, so that the parent is no longer the chef in the kitchen, but rather a customer, ordering from a set menu,” Wagner explained. “Couples need to be able to express their hurt in this situation without anger that will bring up defensive postures in the person who might feel compelled to protect their parent.”
They take care of a parent who doesn't need it
Though, of course, sometimes grown children choose to take care of a parent in the event of an illness or injury, but if they unnecessarily take care of a parent who is perfectly capable for caring for themselves, that's not a good sign. Similarly, if your partner was forced to care for a parent from the time they were a child, that too can result in an unhealthy relationship.
“If you or your partner were placed in this role in your families of origin, you may still be playing this role, caring for an adult family member and/or parent when it was never your job in the first place,” Williamson said.
“This could impact your current relationship with your partner by creating feelings of guilt if you choose to spend time with your partner over your parent, seek to develop new rituals or traditions with your partner separate from your family, etc.”
If need be, a therapist can help them determine how to navigate this relationship and give them the tools they need to set some additional boundaries or extricate themselves from something that isn't exactly healthy.
Interactions shouldn't ruin your day. Netflix
Your partner's mood changes in accordance with interactions with their parent
A particularly difficult or exciting interaction with anyone can sometimes have an effect on your mood, but if your partner's mood tends to change every single time they interact with their parent, that can make things difficult for both you and them. If you're worried about how their relationship with their parent is affecting them, it's best to talk to them about it.
“It is helpful to be candid with your partner about how their interactions with their parent impact you,” Tawwab said. “Be clear about your feelings. For example, 'when you get upset at your mom in front of me I feel helpless and unclear about my role.'”
They crave praise from their parent for every achievement
Everyone hopes for a little recognition and affirmation when they achieve something especially great, but if your partner is constantly looking for praise from their parent for every single achievement, that's a potential sign that the relationship between the two of them isn't entirely healthy.
“Therapy can be a safe place to talk about your relationship patterns, and the patterns from their parents that are playing out in your relationship,” McBain said. “A therapist can help you both see what healthy relationship boundaries look , so you can work towards this goal together as a couple.”
Holidays are an emotional minefield
When your partner and their parent have an unhealthy relationship, holidays and special occasions can be complicated.
Tawwab said that in some cases, an unhealthy parent-child relationship can make these kinds of celebrations difficult and exhausting, rather than fun and celebratory.
And so even if you're not sure that the relationship between your partner and their parent have many other indicators that their relationship isn't all that healthy, this can be a giveaway.
If your partner and their parent do, in fact, have an unhealthy relationship, the first thing that you ly want to do is speak with your partner (without blaming or shaming) about these sorts of things that are affecting your own relationship.
Encouraging them to seek individual therapy, therapy with their parent, or couples therapy for the two of you can all potentially be helpful as well. Ultimately, your partner's relationship with their parent isn't something that you should feel the need to be at the center of, but if it's ruining your relationship, you may need to take action.
For more great stories, head to INSIDER's homepage.
Causes Of Unhappy Families , Sample of Essays
Storming the living room crying, Josh shouts out, “I hate you guy’s” He’s yelling this out to his family. As many of you are wondering why someone would be yelling such hurtful words to his very own family? Not only does this kid say this but many other children out there do the same because they are unhappy.
How many people out there feel their family is unhappy? People wonder why their family is very unhappy occasionally. Many families have opportunities to have a strong happy family and many others do not.
They are a few causes in unhappy families, but can also be fixed if families are willing to make the sacrifices into becoming a better healthy family. Sometimes these things just happen naturally but nothing can stop a family into becoming a happy one. There are many forces that create unhappy uncommunicative families.
Some of those forces to cause a family to be unhappy are financial problems, stress problems, and drinking problems.
The first cause in creating unhappy uncommunicative families is financial problems. Financial problems not only bring stress to the family but also bring lack of bonding. Many families go out once in a while but when having financial problems it’s hard to do so.
For example, going out for a nice family dinner every Sunday night can bring families closer together and can be a great way to communicate, but it’s hard to even do that when there is no money for it.Another example of why financial problems makes families unhappy is because families to go out once in a while to have fun, especially if there are very young ones in the family.
Kids love to go out and have fun, but not being able to take your kid out to have fun is unhappy to the kid and hurting for the parent. Couples argue frequently over financial problems.
The wife wonders were all the paycheck went, and always says the money was not spent wisely, when it’s time to pay the house bills. That there also causes stress to the relationship between those two partners. Kid’s seeing their parents struggle with financial problems is unhealthy. Kids are too young to be aware or seeing that but a lot of families to argue in front of children.
The Essay on Young People Family Person Problems
… self-esteem or rejection Unexpected events such as pregnancy or financial problems Predispositions, stressors and behaviors weave together to form a composite … / physical disabilities Absent or divorced parents; inadequate bonding in adoptive families Family conflict; poor parent / child relationships Personality traits, especially when they …
Drinking is a second cause of unhappiness in families. Men are mostly the ones that have drinking problems in families. Drinking has so much effect in families in many ways. It brings argument, violence, and money problems and possibly abuse so all of that brings unhappiness to the family.
Not only does their partner suffer but also the children suffer as well. People that drink to stay out late at night to drink instead of staying in with the family. That’s where the arguments between couples come in. The wife or husband doesn’t appreciate that their partner is out late drinking.
Wife or husband will wait up all night just waiting for him or her to arrive home and then possibly start the argument which is not a great idea if that person is drunk. That’ll make the drunken person react in many ways. It’s not good for the children to see the parents argue frequently over their drunken parent. Drinking also falls into financial problems.
An alcoholic can buy alcohol almost every day, that’s where most of the money will go into. Money is spent on something people don’t need over something they need the money for, bills. That only causes more conflict with the spouse and children. Children do not alcoholics as their parent or parents.
It is also bad because children want to follow in their parents footsteps and an alcoholic parent is not a good role model.
The Research paper on Relationship Between Parents and Children in Chinese Family
… and son. Conflicting parents-children relationship in Chinese family causes more serious problems on adolescents, alcohol drinking, drug use, and … to get a harmonious relationship.
The same interests can make parents-children relationship close, almost friendship. Take E. B. … , some adolescent who cannot suffer from the painful stress and high requirement prefer to commit suicide.
The final cause of unhappiness in families in today’s world is stress. Families are all caught up in their own worlds. Some are working, some go to school or some are doing both. So that causes stress toward the family because their all stressed out about school and or work.
Families have different school/work schedules so that makes it hard for them to see or even communicate to one another. Some families even have to have their own board of communication, to write to one another or to remind one another about different stuff. That’s a good idea, but not so good because that’s sad that that’s the way the family communicates.Family stress can stop the family to sit together for a simply daily dinner. So that causes lack of communication. Being able to sit as a family is a great way to communicate, tell everyone what’s going on in their lives, what’s bothering them and doing this can even release some stress.
Being able to talk about things to one another can really release stress in the family and can link one another closer together as a happy healthy family.
In conclusion, no matter what there will always be unhappy families out in this world for these reasons or various other reasons. Many families break up and many others find a way to fix their problems and try to make the best of it. At the end of the day families will always love one another even though they are unhappy and broken.
The most important thing to do is try to fix the relationship and have a closer happier family. Make a better effort in even just sitting as a family at the end of the day to just sit and communicate and tell one another what is going on in their lives , so they don’t feel strangers to one another.
Even if it’s just for a little amount of time, it still helps the family’s relationship, and makes them feel less strangers. If alcohol is the main reason in the cause of unhappy families, there is help out there; many people that want their family to be happy will leave the abuse of alcohol.
And by talking to one another about their problems with anything or anyone can release some stress towards the family relationship and become a much happier family.
The Essay on Family Values 4
… ’s ABCX model, identifies contributors to family stress, buffers against stress, and agents that cause family crisis (Grunert, 2013). In the … anxiety of the child and the family member combine.
In the perioperative setting family stress adaptation theory is conducive to … is taking longer than it usually predicted. Families adapt to stress in different ways, or possess different coping mechanisms …
Are You Trapped & Unhappy in Your Relationship?
Do you feel trapped in a relationship you can’t leave?
Of course, feeling trapped is a state of mind. No one needs consent to leave a relationship. Millions of people remain in unhappy relationships that range from empty to abusive for many reasons; however, the feeling of suffocation or of having no choices stems from fear that’s often unconscious.
People give many explanations for staying in bad relationships, ranging from caring for young children to caring for a sick mate. One man was too afraid and guilt-ridden to leave his ill wife (11 years his senior).
His ambivalence made him so distressed, he died before she did! Money binds couples, too, especially in a bad economy.
Yet, more affluent couples may cling to a comfortable lifestyle, while their marriage dissolves into a business arrangement.
Homemakers fear being self-supporting or single moms, and breadwinners dread paying support and seeing their assets divided. Often spouses fear feeling shamed for leaving a “failed” marriage.Some even worry their spouse may harm him- or herself. Battered women may stay fear of retaliation.
Most people tell themselves “The grass isn’t any greener,” believe they’re too old to find love again and imagine nightmarish online dating scenarios. Also, some cultures still stigmatize divorce.
Despite the abundance of reasons, many of which are realistic, there are deeper, unconscious ones that keep people trapped – usually fears of separation and loneliness. In longer relationships, spouses often don’t develop individual activities or support networks. In the past, an extended family served that function.
Whereas women tend to have girlfriends in whom they confide and are usually closer with their parents, traditionally, men focus on work, but disregard their emotional needs and rely exclusively on their wife for support.
Yet, both men and women often neglect developing individual interests. Some codependent women give up their friends, hobbies, and activities and adopt those of their male companions.
The combined effect of this adds to fears of loneliness and isolation people envisage from being on their own.
For spouses married a number of years, their identity may be as a “husband” or “wife” – a “provider” or “homemaker.” The loneliness experienced upon divorce is tinged with feeling lost. It’s an identity crisis. This also may be significant for a noncustodial parent, for whom parenting is a major source of self-esteem.
Some people have never lived alone. They left home or their college roommate for a marriage or romantic partner. The relationship helped them leave home – physically. Yet, they’ve never completed the developmental milestone of “leaving home” psychologically, meaning becoming an autonomous adult. They are as tied to their mate as they once were to their parents.Going through divorce or separation brings with it all of the unfinished work of becoming an independent “adult.” Fears about leaving their spouse and children may be reiterations of the fears and guilt that they would have had upon separating from their parents, which were avoided by quickly getting into a relationship or marriage.
Guilt about leaving a spouse may be due to the fact that their parents didn’t appropriately encourage emotional separation. Although the negative impact of divorce upon children is real, parents’ worries may also be projections of fears for themselves. This is compounded if they suffered from their parents’ divorce.
Lack of Autonomy
Autonomy implies being an emotionally secure, separate, and independent person. The lack of autonomy not only makes separation difficult, it naturally also makes people more dependent upon their partner. The consequence is that people feel trapped or “on the fence” and wracked with ambivalence.
On one hand, they crave freedom and independence; on the other hand, they want the security of a relationship – even a bad one. Autonomy doesn’t mean you don’t need others. In fact, it allows you to experience healthy dependence on others without the fear of suffocation.
Examples of psychological autonomy include:
- You don’t feel lost and empty when you’re alone.
- You don’t feel responsible for others’ feelings and actions.
- You don’t take things personally.
- You can make decisions on your own.
- You have your own opinions and values and aren’t easily suggestible.
- You can initiate and do things on your own.
- You can say “no” and ask for space.
- You have your own friends.
Often, it’s this lack of autonomy that makes people unhappy in relationships or unable to commit. Because they can’t leave, they fear getting close. They’re afraid of even more dependence – of losing themselves completely. They may people-please or sacrifice their needs, interests, and friends, and then build resentments toward their partner.
A Way Your Unhappiness
The way out may not require leaving the relationship. Freedom is an inside job. Develop a support system and become more independent and assertive. Take responsibility for your happiness by developing your passions instead of focusing on the relationship. Find out more about becoming assertive in my e-book, How to Speak Your Mind — Become Assertive and Set Limits.
Are You Trapped & Unhappy in Your Relationship?