By Mia Summers
Author of Conversation Chemistry
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3 Tips For Painful Relationship Experiences
Love really hurts sometimes.
In fact, I’m willing to bet that there’s not a single woman out there who hasn’t been hurt by love.
So how do we deal with it? How do we deal with all those times we’ve been hurt by love?
Do we forget about it? Do we go to therapy for it? Or do we continue to bring our pain into each and every new relationship?
We start out getting hurt by love at a very young age.
When, as teenagers, we start having feelings for boys and hiding our crushes with blushing smiles, we’re acutely sensitive as to whether the boys we like feel the same way back.
Teenagers can be cruel. The most popular boy in school may not know that we exist, but that’s better than confessing our feelings and hearing him laugh in our face.
As we grow older, we find out that our adult lovers may be more tactful, but their rejection doesn’t hurt any less.
In my work with Meet Your Sweet, I often hear stories about partners who are trapped in a cycle of hurting one another, building walls of silence and indifference to defend themselves against the person who’s supposed to be their ally in love.
None of us like to think about the painful consequences of loving someone. But when we have feelings for someone, their critical opinion can wound us like no one else’s.
Healthy relationships require us to understand our own reaction to such criticism. We MUST learn to develop a healthy response to wounding words.
Otherwise, those rejections will carry over to future relationships and negatively impact our interactions with a loving man who doesn’t understand why his casual remarks trigger such anger.
A novel by romance writer Nora Roberts (“Suzanna’s Surrender”) illustrates this point perfectly.
The main character is a single mother who’s been recently divorced from an ambitious corporate lawyer. During their marriage, he constantly told her that she disappointed him and couldn’t measure up to the other society wives.
She accepted the humiliation because of her love for him. It took years – and his infidelity – before she could recognize what their marriage was doing to the children and her self-esteem, and escape.
We’d all like to believe that we could leave a bad relationship or marriage behind if it happened to us, and never think about it again. We’d like to think that we will know enough not to make the same mistake again.
But often that’s just wishful thinking.
We all develop habitual patterns of reacting to abuse or rejection, and these instincts often continue to kick in, whether or not they’re merited.
In Roberts’ novel, the main character learns to grow out of her past through the healing love of a man who shows her just how much he needs, wants, and admires her. But not all of us are that lucky.
We don’t leave the past behind every time we enter a new relationship. Every new relationship is affected by the ghosts of past relationships – yours AND his.
Sadly, what sticks with us most about past relationships are often the parts we disliked or that hurt us the most.
For example, I still remember the man who told me that everything about me was perfect … except for my personality. I remember the boyfriend who told me that “obviously” I didn’t look like a model.
Both were men I cared for deeply, and those critical comments stuck with me longer than all the loving compliments they’d given me.
If I review my relationship history, those painful incidents are anomalies. Almost all my lovers have been loving, complimentary, and appreciative. But I cannot remember any compliments as clearly as I remember those two criticisms.
I’m not unique. Studies have shown that negative experiences are better remembered than positive experiences.
When an experience carries a strong emotional charge, we remember it more vividly. When someone says something that hurts us in a powerful way, it sticks in our memory in a way all the “I love you”s in the world cannot.
So what do we do about it?
TIP #1: SAY SOMETHING.
First of all, don’t accept hurtful criticism or abuse in silence.
If you can tell your partner that you felt hurt by his comment in a calm, non-accusatory way, then there is the chance that the emotional impact of the situation can be defused.
A situation that started out with angry words might evolve into an honest discussion.
The key is to express how you feel with “I” statements rather than hurling “YOU” statements in self-defense. For example, say, “I felt hurt by your comment,” rather than “YOU hurt me when YOU said that.”
TIP #2: TAKE A MOMENT TO THINK
Next, if your feelings seem all out of proportion to the situation, ask yourself whether you’re responding to the particular person you’re with right now, or whether a past experience is haunting you still.
Often, simply BECOMING AWARE that we’re sensitive about an issue because a previous partner used to criticize us is enough take away its charge.
TIP #3: IT’S JUST ONE MAN’S OPINION
Finally, learn to take criticism with a grain of salt. If a man tells you something that hurts your feelings, remember that it’s just his opinion. You don’t have to believe him or take the comment on board unless you want to.
I’ve seen many women who base their entire self-image on what people say about them. If a man says they’re beautiful, they feel beautiful. If a man says they’re ugly, they feel ugly.
One of the most important things you can do for yourself is learning to value and accept yourself just as you are. If YOU feel good about yourself, nothing anyone says can ever truly affect you.
It is OKAY if you don’t look like a model or aren’t perfectly compatible with someone else’s idea of the perfect woman. You’re YOU. And that’s all you need to be for the right man.
If you’re looking for more advice about how to heal from a bad experience, talk to men who catch your eye, or simply want the confidence to be able to approach a man and engage him in confident conversation, you really should check out:
You see, chemistry can be learned and you can make that man you meet sweet YOU off your feet, tell others how amazing you are, open upto you like he has never done with any other woman…
and love you forever.
(And he won’t even know how you made ithappen!)
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