THE 3 VITAL FUNCTIONS OF A RELATIONSHIP
DR. GILDA CARLE (Ph.D.)
Do you think it’s easier and less stressful to stay single? Actually, it’s not!!
Find out why . . .
Courtesy of Match.com’s Happen Magazine
Togetherness feels great, and it’s comforting to know someone has your back. Research has shown that without a love connection, divorced men over 50 suffer greater health problems and single men aged 30 to 59 die two and a half times sooner than their married counterparts. Single, divorced, and widowed women also suffer higher mortality rates. So, committed love preserves your health — yet, a relationship’s true impact is even more profound than that.
One commitment-phobe’s story
Craig had been commitment-averse throughout his 60 years, but because he had been married (and divorced) twice in his life, one would not have suspected it. Professionally, he was a ferocious trial attorney, but personally, he was a broken boy abandoned long ago by parents who overindulged his disabled sister while he was left to raise himself. He ran far away from his family home as soon as possible. Over the years, Craig similarly ran away from every love he encountered before he could suffer the same feelings of abandonment that originated with his parents. Although he dated stunning women in order to trumpet his alleged greatness, his internal void matched their emptiness. Moreover, he attracted women who were already involved with other men to unconsciously replicate the painful love triangle template (comprised of himself, his parents and his sister) set in his youth that had ended in rejection. So, Craig’s dating history was littered with a string of vacant beauties whose affections belonged to other men. As each superficial romance crashed, the wound of feeling unloved became re-infected in Craig’s heart, supporting the lesson he deduced from his childhood experiences: namely, that he did not deserve to be loved.
To numb his emotional pain, Craig took on less taxing cases at work and glued himself to mindless TV programs, but he avoided seeking professional help. But then, to paraphrase Anaïs Nin, “the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Online, halfway across the country, Craig found his soul mate. Unlike his previous girlfriends, she was a one-man woman (O.M.W.). She was also a spiritual devotee who believed in the human potential to heal and forgive. Craig’s training in procedural law lacked such a compassionate outlook, so he and O.M.W. became mutually intrigued. Like a Pit bull, Craig pursued this woman hard and seduced her with these sultry words: “I have all my priorities straight in life now and have never been more ready as a man, a friend, a lover, and a soul mate for that special woman.”
The set-up for sabotage
During their two months of courting, the couple’s emails were filled with effusive “I love you” statements. O.M.W.’s past experience with dating non-spiritual men made Craig’s openness and vulnerability refreshing for her. He became her heartthrob — and she succumbed. But the man could not hide his demons. Without the upheaval of a relationship triangle affecting this new and different relationship, Craig felt off-guard and his inability to manage his anger issues was now in full view. He felt tested by taking the risk to blossom out of the bud and eventually reverted back to his old, negative behavioral patterns, callously telling O.M.W. he still had feelings for his former (and married) fantasy woman.
Craig’s remark was confusing, cruel, and cutting. Because he had never felt anything so deep for a woman before, he did not know how to embrace what they shared. Ordinarily, O.M.W. would have given up on this yo-yo game, but this time she was immobilized by oxytocin — the bonding hormone flooding her body from the scorching-hot attachment she felt with Craig. Also, she intuited that his trust in her would eventually smooth over his own dented armor.
Craig’s first email set the stage for their romance: “I want you to share your entire essence with me without fear of judgment or drama. If a man cannot handle the truth when he is confronted with it, how can any woman be honest with him, whether it is about scratching the car or some guy coming on to her?” So O.M.W. naturally felt safe to share her fear about a minor medical issue with him. Instead of acting like the caring man he’d professed to be, Craig harshly called her a “hysterical drama queen,” projecting his inner turmoil onto her. Then, he ended their liaison in an email, saying that he’d thought he was ready for love but guessed that he’d been wrong. See ya! After everything they had already shared together, Craig extinguished the spark with his soul mate in a frigid e-note. Not surprisingly, O.M.W. felt set up and duped.
What makes a relationship worth fighting for?
The moral of Craig’s story is that all couples have issues. But when it comes to relationships, these issues serve three vital functions, which I’ve outlined below:
How many of you have been involved with a Craig or an O.M.W.? How many of you have BEEN a Craig or an O.M.W.? I’m anxious to hear how the 3 vital functions of a relationship played into your own growth.
Love, (of course!)
DR. GILDA CARLE (Ph.D.) is an internationally known psychotherapist, relationship educator, and management consultant. She is Match.com’s “ASK DR. GILDA” advice columnist. She is also known as the Country Music Doctor, with her “Country Cures.” She is a motivational speaker, professor of psychology & communications, the author of the well-known “Don’t Bet on the Prince!,” a test question on “Jeopardy,” AND NOW IN ITS SECOND EDITION, 99 Prescriptions for Fidelity, How to Win When Your Mate Cheats, and many more. She was the therapist in HBO's Emmy Award winner, "Telling Nicholas," featured on Oprah, where she guided a family to tell their 7-year-old that his mom died in the World Trade Center bombing. DR. GILDA is the Love Doc advisor for the off-Broadway show, “Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating, & Marriage!” She is currently developing her own TV show. Visit www.DrGilda.com and get her Instant Advice!