We all have history. For many, history forms our present views of relationships. From our past, we determine what we liked in relationships and what we didn’t like. This becomes, in part, the basis for forming new relationships when we have had the experience of ending one. One might think that, from whatever we may have learned, our history helps us in insuring the next will be better, more fulfilling, and longer lasting. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Despite all our learning and reflection, we are creatures of habit. We tend to seek out what seemed comfortable in the past and cast our “wisdom” aside in order to obtain a mate.

Much of our searching stems purely from loneliness…that feeling of being less than complete within ourselves… and our searching for that component which we believe creates a sense of oneness and belonging within. Too often, we settle for someone who merely appears to us and who responds to our loneliness. Too often, that person remarkably resembles one we left in search of better. So why does this happen with such frequency? It is, in part, because we remember the physical qualities of the past which remain a primary attractant in our present. Too, we sometimes feel that while we may deserve better than what we had, better might not ever respond to us in the way we hope…and so…we settle.

There is something else that is so subtle to us… but not so subtle to our friends and co-workers with whom we have endlessly shared our histories. That “something” is that we have not taken time to truly assess who we are, how we have acted in the past, and how we need to change in order to create the relationship we believe we genuinely want. We “forget” our own flaws in the process of assessing our former partner’s flaws.

Not to be overlooked in all of this is the social circle we live within and the character makeup of those within that circle. How often, after a breakup, has a friend offered to hook us up with someone they say is the opposite of our former mate? In my experience with clients, this occurs quite often… and often it turns out that this new interest is, in fact, the opposite. We find that we have nothing in common and there is virtually little that interests us about this person. Should they show interest in us, however, odds are pretty good that we will “settle”…and soon find ourselves facing yet another breakup. In time, it dawns on us that we have no genuine connection and that we merely filled a hole with some flattery and perhaps some initially exciting sexual stimulation.

There are myriad other scenarios which can and do occur in contradiction to what we have “learned” in our histories. So how, you might ask, do we lonely humans use our history to create that perfect relationship? Quite simply, we don’t… at least not in the way we typically think. We start our new quest by recognizing that no relationship begins as perfect. Our desire for a “soul mate”… that one person among all the billions on earth... that is designed to complete us is a fantasy. Prince Charming is a myth. It is a dangerous fallacy that actually prevents us from growing and becoming whole within ourselves.

Recognizing this and, most important, acting from this recognition, points us directly toward the person with whom we can have our most important relationship… ourselves.

Think about how many times we angered because a mate did not dress, walk, talk, act the way we expected… and demanded. Think also how much we wanted them to stop doing things they liked simply because we did not share their interest, enthusiasm, or joy. How many times did we expect them to take interest in, show enthusiasm for, and truly enjoy whatever we did… and whenever and wherever we did? OK… now think about how many things we liked that we gave up in pleasing our mate and vice versa. Did we ever change a hairstyle, attire, or even drop certain friends? Did we eat sushi even though it made us cringe? Think about when our mate wanted to change a job. Did we berate or offer doubt as to abilities? Did we support the desire or dream? Did we pull away from our mate? Push our mate away? Sulk? Give an ultimatum to forget the dream or forget us? Turn the tables and did our mate do likewise to us? Did either offer compromise or extra effort in whatever way possible to free up time for the dream? Did we ever actually discuss the dream or did we just demand it be accepted outright?

Yes… we are talking history here. We certainly are… but now we are talking about our history and the history of our former partner… as individuals complementing each other… or not. We are talking about history in reflection of our flaws and our need to grow… and maybe even our former mate’s flaws and need to grow. We are talking about how we can change and how that change can prevent us from finding the next mistake, from settling, and how that change can help us find an unperfected mate and make our relationship work.

If we look at our histories with wide eyes… look at the whole picture of our past relationship(s) as opposed to what we personally liked and disliked… look at how our actions or inaction shaped the relationship… and likewise with regard to our partner(s)… we can learn much regarding the areas of life to which we can apply new thinking and acting. We can use our histories to find a mate… one we can share with, accept, accommodate, and complement our differences, give space in which to explore and grow, support and be supported by. It never starts out as perfection… only illusions make it seem as such in the beginning. It starts out as an attraction like all relationships begin but opens up into a world of possibility. It supports being who we are and living from that place rather than from those old, historical places where we felt we had to be otherwise to have a relationship and grew to resent giving up parts of ourselves.

In the future, we can like our opera and not be hurt or upset that it curls our mate’s toes. We can enjoy the football game and the beer and cheetos and whooping and hollering and not be concerned that our mates will “get even” with a formal dinner with the in-laws. We can eliminate feeling neglected or neglecting. We can feel complete no matter what we are doing. We can feel supported and supporting, appreciated and appreciating… and we can feel loved and loving. We can be two wholes living vibrantly together.

As two whole beings, we can communicate our wants, needs, desires, interests, and dreams without fear, rejection, guilt, or shame. This is as close to perfection as any two people can come as far as a relationship is concerned. Pipe dream? Hardly. The key is communication and a willingness to look at ourselves as actors having free reign to change the script our narrow views of history have written for us.

This effort at reflection and growth does not come easy. We are trained from birth to conform to our environment. For many of us, that environment in which we grew and established our histories was, and may still be, dysfunctional. Many of us have a history of conforming to dysfunctional life and relationships.

Relationship counseling is not just for couples. It is for anyone single or in a relationship to use as a means for ending adherence to dysfunctional models and becoming healthy, whole, and complete… enough to find a mate and survive, grow, and thrive… or to save, recreate, reshape, and reformat a present relationship so that it may survive, grow, and thrive. If we begin before we enter into the search for a mate or we partake to make our present relationship better, we may prevent the next war of the roses.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Paul is the owner of M. Dennis Paul, LLC, Professional Conflict Management Services and is the Founder of the Quan Yin Counseling Ministry. With over 20 years experience in counseling individuals and couples in the areas of relationships, sexual dysfunctions, and addictions and offering Conflict Management for Parent/Child, Families, Couples, and Business, Dr. Paul is considered by peers to be an expert in Thought Addiction. He is now offering training courses for Relationship Surrogate/Coaches and Thanatological Surrogate/Coaches. He continues to offer Thought Addiction recovery programs and maintains client hours by appointment only. His information can be found by visiting www.quanyincounselingministry.webs.com and www.compassionatecounselingonline.com

He can be contacted through those sites as well as mdp54@gsinet.net and 1-617-682-8299