Relationships: Creation, Management, & Maintenance

As naturally social creatures, relationships tend to take center stage in our lives. They are strong contributors to our sense of happiness and well-being. Nevertheless, relationships are hard. Even the healthiest of relationships takes time, attention, dedication, and effort. There are many different ways that we each struggle in relationships, and relationship difficulties may morph and change over time, depending on life circumstances, personalities, and individual needs.

Starting relationships is harder for some than others. Some feel that their biggest hurdle to relationships is meeting, finding, and/or starting a relationship. This may be because they never quite learned or grasped the social skills that are required for finding and meeting people to start relationships with. Or, they may feel they have no trouble meeting or finding people they want to be in relationships with, but for some reason it just never seems to work long enough to turn into a relationship. Others may find themselves living a life filled with a series of short-lived relationships, but feel they are really want a long-term relationship.

For some, starting relationships is easier but managing them is harder. There are many different reasons why we have difficulties managing relationships. Perhaps you have no problem during the honeymoon phase of a relationship and get along great when things are good, but when difficulties arise you feel at a loss or tend to handle the situations poorly. Maybe your relationship has experienced a trauma, such as cheating or abuse, and you’re not sure if/how to move forward. Or, you could be one of many who feel that they keep picking the wrong people or experiencing the same patterns or chaos in their relationships.

Once we are in a relationship, part of the challenge is maintaining that relationship over time. This can be particularly difficult, given that life is filled with unexpected events and individual feelings, needs, and wants can change over time. It is not uncommon for long-term partners to describe waking up one day and realizing their feelings have changed or that they feel like roommates living in the same home. Or, you or your partner may experience a major change and it’s unclear how it may impact the relationship. Figuring out personal wants and needs and learning how to communicate about them is vital to maintaining relationships.

Most of us do not like the idea of ending a relationship. We don’t like the idea of ending a relationship with someone or it someone breaking up with us. And for some of us, the idea ending a relationship may be what needs to happen in the name of health, happiness, or even safety… is terrifying. The fear of being alone, fear of hurting someone’s feelings, difficulty with making decisions, or difficulty standing up for oneself are just some of the reasons people have trouble ending relationships. With the guidance and support of counseling, we can make better choices for ourselves in our relationships.