Why do people (men and women both) in relationships typically want what they don’t have, and when they have it they do not want it anymore? Is it the hunt? Is it the thrill of the kill? Is it the chase? Or, is that just a person who does not know what they really want? I know that some people have commitment issues and are runners when they get into relationships, but people fight so hard for something and then at the turn of a switch are willing to throw it all away. This makes no sense to me.
You’re right that it doesn’t make much sense when this happens. While there are probably as many reasons as there are situations, I’ve seen a few patterns over the years that might explain why people sabotage what they say they want. Even though there might be explanations, it still doesn’t make it any easier to suddenly lose a relationship.
First, I’ve observed that most of the relationship stories told in movies, songs, and books, overly focus on starting the relationship, but fail to model how to keep a relationship going. In other words, they show the easy part.
New relationships are full of excitement, novelty, and uncertainty. These qualities produce infatuation and passion, which are essential for the formation of a bond, but terrible substitutes for the long-term qualities of commitment, sacrifice, compassion, and understanding. Once the newness of the relationship wears off, many people seek out the next relationship thinking that intensity is the same as intimacy.
I realize that stories about long-term commitment and sacrifice don’t make very good Hollywood blockbusters. However, I think that only showing panicked lovers chasing departing taxis in the rain doesn’t give us a good sense of what real love and commitment looks like.
Some people have commitment issues because of previous relationship losses, such as betrayal, abuse, and other traumas. These are serious and real issues that prevent injured people from forming and maintaining new bonds. I once heard someone say that we can’t start a new relationship until we finish the old one. If you or someone you love has been deeply injured in a previous relationship, seek the help you need to heal those wounds so you don’t drag those fears into the next relationship.
Other reasons for inability to commit include addiction, selfishness, laziness, emotional dishonesty, and other relationship killers. As painful as it seems, if you’re dating someone and they suddenly disappear on you without explanation, see if you can re-engage them to talk about what happened. If they avoid the discussion, let them go. Commitment and fidelity is a two-way street and isn’t about one person doing all of the work. Healthy relationships are comprised of two people who are actively working to care for the comfort and well-being of the other person.
Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.
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