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Integrative Health, Psychology and Relationship Support

Relationships 101

Posted by: Dr. Tina Morse PsyD, MFT

Topic: Emotions, Passion & Purpose, Life Tips, Mind, Relationships

Relationships 101

As a therapist, I can’t tell you how often I encounter friends and family members who make concerted efforts to destroy the significant relationships of the people they love. Most notably, as they progress towards getting married, or having children. Often, well intended loved ones feel intimidated by new relationships and impending life events. They sense a change in the dynamics of their already established history with you and perceive a sense of loss.

While it’s normal for an individual to witness fleeting insecurities and to discuss that, some can’t help but focus on how their relationship with you used to look. These individuals take pride in their attempt to control what’s now going on at home. The pattern is particularly interesting and extreme in adult-children who have moved out, live across the country, visit occasionally, or when it happens to be your mother. Friends and family may engage in ‘negative talk’ while putting your significant-other relationship (and partner) under their microscope. One of the worst cases I encountered involved children who were not allowed to speak with, nor show affection to their grandfather’s new wife throughout their partnership. You don’t have to be a therapist to know that aligning with that behavior reflects poorly on everyone involved, not to mention how damaging that is to the emotional development of innocent children. Roots of bad behavior are often linked to jealousy and personal finances. Emotionally abusive behavior is often used in an attempt to protect potential personal and financial benefits; while other times it is going on with seemingly no awareness, but significant frustration.

Establishing boundaries with close friends and family members is essential to the survival of a significant-partner-relationship. A good role model reflects the ability to respect personal and relational boundaries. They not only encourage, but insist that adult children grow-up. Enlightened adults focus on friends and family who are inclusive and supportive of their partnership, while continually defining behaviors and topics they consider off limits and unacceptable with others. Setting limits can be challenging. It’s my hope that you do it with care, and that you spend quality time with those that you love. Let them know that their relationship with you may in fact be changing, as you re-assure them that your love and care for them will never be diminished. Encourage friends to form new relationships and to deepen those that are already established.

While I may sympathize with my clients as they reminisce about the one that got away, I’m really here to support you to be mindful and come to terms with this pattern. Bad behavior doesn’t have to damage good relationships. Mature adults look to their own heart, personal beliefs and experience for guidance. It’s not necessary to provide answers to judgmental assumptions, and could well take a lifetime to prove that often undefinable love that you feel with another. No one will ever know the depth of relationship that you experience as your relationship belongs to you. It changes, grows and develops over time and it’s something sacred between you as a couple. Healthy, supportive boundaries help sustain love and your most significant relationships in the years to come.


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