A client recently came to my office, confused about his relationship. His concern was that his current girlfriend is constantly getting upset. Their couples counselor suggested that the girlfriend was chasing my client, while my client was running away. The more she would get angry and express her fears and anxiety, the more he’d back off, which in turn would feed his girlfriend’s anxiety. Needless to say, it was a vicious cycle that the two were trying, somewhat unsuccessfully, to break free from.
My client, however, said one thing that struck me. He pointed out that he was the chaser in his last relationship. He was anxious and needy, the one who always felt neglected. He surmised that the position he’s in now is much better.
I pointed out that these positions sometimes change in long-term relationships. Sometimes the tables turn, I said. He was surprised by this, but it’s important to know that these imbalances should be temporary and not the norm.
Many of us have been in these types of relationships, or in these situations within our relationships. Sometimes something doesn’t click. One person is more interested in the other person, or so it seems. One person is more eager, more vested, more committed, more available, etc. You get the picture. And then the tables turn. The roles switch. Some relationships are consistently in this state of imbalance.
Not all relationships are like this, of course. Many are on equal ground and footing, and yes, those relationships seem as though they don’t take as much work, nor require as much energy.
Relationships are an art, not a science. Sometimes two people fall right into step with each other, but as luck would have it, being human and constantly changing and growing, sometimes we don’t grow or change at the same pace. Sometimes one grows quickly and the other needs to catch up. When our partner starts to change and grow, we may become threatened, worried, displaced, anxious, and so on, and this in and of itself can create imbalance in the relationship, causing us to become more panicky and needy, and perpetuating the cycle. So, it is quite common at times in your relationship to feel as though one partner loves the other more. A little flip-flopping is normal, but a constant in one direction or the other is an imbalance—not just in the relationship, but in the individuals’ responses of what is happening in the relationship.
If you find that you are constantly chasing someone, or feeling anxious, jealous, neglected, or insecure, then these steps are for you:
- Remember to love your partner as though he or she is your best friend. What does this mean? It’s not about what your partner can give you, but how you can be a better friend to your partner. Does your partner have a passion, a friend, a job, etc., that is pulling him or her away from you? If so, be happy for your partner. Wish him or her happiness or success in whatever it is they are doing, and in life.
- Remember that everyone has a different path in life. You and your partner came together because there was an attraction, perhaps a common interest, or common goals. But this does not mean you and your partner must eat, breathe, sleep, and live exactly the same. In fact, that would be quite boring. Allow for your partner’s differences to shine. Those differences are what make him or her unique. Celebrate each other’s differences.
- Take a closer look at yourself. You need to nourish yourself before your partner can nourish you. Your partner should be seen as one who accentuates your life, the icing on the cake to the greatness you endeavor. If you are getting anxious, insecure, or jealous, what is it that you are looking for that you cannot give yourself?
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