As if navigating the modern dating world wasn’t hard enough, add the baggage of being a child of divorce.
My parents had a very complicated divorce when I was 12 years old. It was a very impressionable and vulnerable age where I was just starting to piece together my ideas about relationships. Long story short, my dad cheated on my mom with a woman he worked with.
He chose her over my beautiful and caring mother who had been a devoted wife to him for almost 16 years. (For a 12-year-old, this decision is incredibly confusing.) To make matters worse, we soon found out that the two-year-old’s son belonged to my father.
It all suddenly made sense. He had grown cold towards us the moment he started a family with someone new. My world was shattered as our once perfect family of three was completely destroyed.
This is where my idea of âârelationships changed. I experienced the ultimate form of rejection and deception that shattered my confidence in all people, even myself. I believed that everyone who loved me would eventually give up on me because I wasn’t good enough and that there would be something better for them than me.
I started weekly therapy sessions when I was 14 and continued until I was 17. I felt like we were going around in circles to sort out my abandonment and trust issues, but as I got older I started to see value in what my psychologist was saying, especially when I started my first serious relationship at 18.
The first year with him was a joy. I never thought love could be so happy. We were (and still are!) Each other’s best friends. But after a year, I started to panic. Things were getting serious and I gave him more and more power to hurt me if he decided he was boring with me.
I ran to my psychologist and asked him why I wanted to run away when he was the nicest guy on the planet. Was I crazy? I started arguing for no reason that he didn’t like me, and I maintained this destructive behavior for months.
It wasn’t until I started to unwrap my feelings that I realized I had some serious unresolved trust issues. My psychologist told me that I have a very negative love storyline, and just like a sad movie, my love life would end in tragedy if I continued.
Do you like the script? What is this psychological babble? I let out a silly little snort when I first heard the term, but now it makes a lot of sense.
Your love script is the little voice in your head telling you what love should look like, look like and act like. You play out scenarios in your head like a movie, and when reality swerves you react – often not in a positive way. In short: my love story was really distorted.
Because I had suffered such injury and rejection, I wanted my relationship to play out like a Hollywood movie where we were always happy, never at odds and he was doing the dishes without asking. I saw his deviations from this unrealistic script as breaking up agreements and my instinct was to run away. Rationally, however, I knew it was silly.
He made me so happy but I kept pulling him apart. But as soon as I realized Why I was doing what I was doing, I made a concerted effort to make positive mental and behavioral changes.
Here are some things that helped me change my love script:
- Seek professional help if you are having difficulty. The perspective of an outside person can help you understand why your behavior is unreasonable.
- Understand that the perfect relationship does not exist. This is not the cinema. You will have disagreements and you will have to manage conflicts through compromise and reasonable discussion.
- Read articles on the psychology behind your actions. Sheryl paul has incredible views and advice; start there.
- Nobody is perfect. So don’t expect your partner to be perfect. Everyone has faults. Think of them as quirks and learn to love them (or at least live with them).
- Chat with that little voice in your head that makes you doubt yourself and your connection. If you’ve been through rejection issues in the past, that little voice of doubt is likely to appear. Tell him to go away.
- Have your own interests and hobbies. It is not healthy to depend on someone for your happiness, so keep your life interesting by participating in activities that you enjoy.
- Understand that love changes over time. That kind of obsessive and vigorous love at first will wear off, but over time you will end up with an even deeper kind of love. Don’t confuse this with discontent. Love becomes a matter of choice for your partner on a daily basis despite its flaws.
- If your partner is violent, your feelings have nothing to do with a romantic scenario. Abuse in any form should not be tolerated.
Since changing my mind and doing a lot of professional work on myself, I am the happiest in my life. My boyfriend and I have a very close and strong bond, and I cannot imagine my life without him.
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Michaela West is a life coach and communications specialist from Durban, South Africa who is passionate about helping women become the beautiful people they were meant to be by connecting with women around the world at through his writings. Follow her on Twitter.