During our childhood, we often rush into the idea of adulthood, thinking it means we can do whatever we want. Independence seems like the key to happiness. As we grow up, we observe our parents, caregivers, and educators making decisions independently, shaping our views on human interaction – essentially forming our relationship model. When we reach the age where we’re physically considered adults, we often assume we’re emotionally and mentally ready. Little do we realize at the time that we might have no clue about how to navigate relationships.
As a life and relationship coach, I’ve worked with numerous clients, and one common struggle they all share is understating relationship model they use and forming healthy connections.
Why is it that we’re not taught how to “relationship”? I don’t have a clear answer to that question. Instead, as a coach, I focus on bridging the significant gap in valuable relationship-building skills.
I have two children, ages 14 and 12 as I write this. Watching them grow, I see them facing emotional challenges as they try to find their place among friends, in society, at school, and even within their own minds. They might not be conscious of it, but they’re undeniably striving to be their authentic selves, seeking acceptance. This is what we all desire, whether we’re children or adults – to belong, to be loved, to be accepted. Yet, it’s not always an easy path.
We all carry certain primal wounds from childhood, and emotional conditioning is virtually inevitable. If you’ve tried forming relationships but struggled, it might not entirely be your fault. You did your best with the resources you had. The issue is that most of us either operate with minimal resources or believe we’re doing it right, often blaming relationship challenges on others. We rarely examine the relationship model we’ve internalized from our childhoods.
What’s promoted as “romantic” is a beautiful, extravagant wedding, a dazzling engagement ring as a symbol of love, and relationship status updates on social media. What’s not seen as sexy or romantic is a deep conversation about potential relationship challenges that every couple will face. It might be uncomfortable to imagine that your relationship might encounter difficulties. After all, if you’re in love, nothing else should matter, right?
I got married for the first time at 23, filled with dreams but lacking essential relationship skills. I carried all my unprocessed childhood trauma into my marriage, genuinely believing it had nothing to do with my relationship. I was wrong. My relationship model was distorted, and no matter how hard I tried to shape my relationship to fit it, it simply didn’t.
Whether you’re in a relationship right now or searching for your love interest, you need to dive deep and examine your relationship model. You must evaluate whether it’s helping or hindering your happiness and fulfillment in life. Ask yourself what triggers you, then trace it back to your childhood to understand why. Every trigger points to something within you that needs attention. Are you repeating the same dynamics as your parents had, or are you consciously creating your own? Is your inner child still seeking your parents’ love instead of forming a healthy adult connection? Or are you trying so hard to avoid pain that you’re missing opportunities for connections when someone resembles one of your parental figures?
Each of us has to do this profound work and acquire relationship skills. Love isn’t just about butterflies and sparks; that’s the result of release of chemicals in our bodies. Real love is about the ability to communicate, resolve conflicts, turn toward a partner, and act as a team. Your relationship model consists of beliefs, thought patterns, and habitual actions that need to be explored, adjusted, or entirely transformed. This is how you give yourself a chance at love, creating a solid foundation that can withstand the challenges of a partnership.
The concept of falling in love and being in love is overly romanticized in movies, songs, novels, and on social media. But engaging in challenging conversations during the early stages of a relationship to build real love is far less romantic. Trying to enter a relationship without proper skills is like attempting to fly an airplane with only knowledge of driving a car.
Give yourself a chance at real love! By learning about your current relationship model that is most-likely running on autopilot, and by making needed adjustments to thrive in life and in love!