Three Steps to Balancing Your Relationship

Couple walking down wood pathA 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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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  • Cheves

    Cheves

    September 6th, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    While reading this I was struck so much by the comment that the one client makes about having been the one who chased in his last relationship so now in this one he steps back and likes to be pursued. he feels more comfortable that way. I think that I do the exact same thing in the relationship that I am in now because I too have always been the chaser but that leaves you so much more vulnerable to being hurt. I have decided that this time around I would like to be the one to be pursued, because that kind of feels nice for a change. It is hard because it kind of goes against my natural inclinations but I am so tired of getting hurt and I think that this allows me to keep a little more distance and space and will keep some of that at bay. Fingers crossed.

  • Edwin B

    Edwin B

    September 6th, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    I was with this girl for over five years and our relationship was constantly under threat, either from me or from her. Maybe I was too young then but it was a case of constant alternating. Sometimes I was the chaser and sometimes it was her. We never really were matured back then I think. But it was not a smooth ride at all and I wish her the best, no hard feelings, because even though so much happened we always respected each other and that’s just so important.

  • RebeccA

    RebeccA

    September 6th, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    I think that many times we treat our partner as less than a friend, someone beneath us, because we have this false sense that they will never leave us. But just like with any other relationship you have to treat these people that are in your life with the same kindness and love that you would anyone. Please don’t presume that just because they have not gotten so frustrated with you and left yet that it won’t ever happen becase ut can and it will if you do not do the things that you have to to nourish and hrow the relationship. No one deserves to be treated unkindly by someone who supposedly loves them, so if this is you and you want to keep your relationship alive then you need to take a very close look at how you are managing life with your partner and determine of you would accept the same things if this was being done to you.

  • Pate r

    Pate r

    September 7th, 2012 at 4:04 AM

    Step 3 is the key to success!
    We get into these relationships and most of the time we spend so much time taking care of our partner that we forget that we need to take care of ourselves!

    I know that there are those people who will presume that I am being selfish by encouraging that you take care of yourself first. But the last time I chaecked, I am no good to anyone else if I am not first and foremost good to myself. This is a truth that many of us often forget, and by the time that we realize what the real problem is, much of the damage has been done and it can be difficult to right the ship.

  • Home Run

    Home Run

    September 7th, 2012 at 5:15 AM

    A relationship that is not balanced is always in danger. No partner should have too much of a control over the other and while perfect balance is not always possible, they should strike a chord at some place. It cannot always be biased in any one partner’s favor. Having been in several failed relationships I can say this from my experience!

  • Alison masters

    Alison masters

    September 7th, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    In my experience I have found that the more you become comfortable with someone then the greater the chances are that you will begin to treat them badly. Why do we do this to the person who loves us the most and the best? Can anyone answer that for me?

  • alexis

    alexis

    September 8th, 2012 at 10:51 AM

    If there is truly an imbalnce like this in a relationship, then how can the relationship continue and be a success?

    I would never want to be with someone whom I thought that I cared about more than he cared about me; likewise, I wouldn’t want to hurt someone knowing that they thought more of me than I did of him.

    This is all about being a good person, period. It really is not rocket science to make a great partnership, but it is all about knowing yourself and your own needs well enough to find that right person to create that with.

  • LaurenMcD

    LaurenMcD

    September 10th, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    I wish that for once my husband would put my needs before his. All of the time it feels like he has this tee time or this appointment or that, with never giving any consideration to what my plans may have been for us. I feel it is so unfair for him to treat me this way but at the same time I always have this nagging little feeling that maybe it’s me being the one who is unfair by expecting him to spend all this time with us when the work week is through?

  • Leila

    Leila

    September 12th, 2012 at 4:01 PM

    Hi, i have reactive depression but my boyfriend just does not want to hear that. He things if he pays for everything he gives more to relationship than I do. When I tell him that I do not like the way he treats me (it could be lie, come home late with no explanation or not coming home for a night at all) his “excuse” is money. But I do allot for him too, for instance it is normal for me to take his shoes off when he comes home or he can wake me up in the middle of the night just to ask what time is it or to ask me to scratch his back.
    I am not complaining, I do it because I love him it is not a problem for me to do those things, but he started to take it for granted. He can easily say to me that what ever I do is not enough and I have to try to please him more and a bit more and just once more and so on, never enough.
    I tried and tried but it became very irritating with time as he stared to get angry if I do not take his shoes off for instance and he says I do not take care of him because I do not take the shoes off.
    It became a huge problem for us ( not shoes , it was just an example) we fight all the time, his comments about me not caring make me very angry.
    I thing we both put equal into relationship he with money and I do with caring about him, but he can just say that because he has money he can buy such care anywhere and even better one.
    Such comments make me feel bad and whenever I try o talk to him and say how I feel he just laughs at me, says that I have to much free time so I think about such stupid things.
    Is my feeling really stupid?
    I love him, trying to do everything as he wants but the more I try the more it is not good enough for him and he does not want to tell me what he wants to get of the end of my trying. He never says exactly what he expects to get by the end or what I will get by the end, it is always “you have to try a bit more”.
    It is very frustrating, can i do more than screeching his back of the middle of the night?
    Am I over reacting?
    Please reply

  • Velvet

    Velvet

    January 7th, 2016 at 8:45 PM

    Thanks for this. It validates my current situation. My relationship is not a marriage. I am just getting to know this person who I care much more for than I am cared for – its highly imbalanced. I am constantly anxious and suffocated. I have been pondering over how I can fill the gap in my life that I am desperate to want from this person (take a closer look at yourself suggestion). Doesn’t the need for romantic love always need to be filled by another. How can u give yourself something like that?

  • JOHN A

    JOHN A

    October 7th, 2017 at 2:53 AM

    When some one truly loves you , they will never leave you in a state of in balance. They only do this as a power game or they truly dont love and even loath you. Usually when you dump them, then they magically love you again, cause it is a game and they hate losing. If you are in a relation ship where they tell you that you are needy bail on these narcissus heartless ——— . IN the long run you are much better off without these type of self loving pieces of trash

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