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A Messy Relationship OR No Relationship: What's Better?

Messy Relationship OR No Relationship

Anyone who has heard the quote, "No man is an island," instinctively agrees to the fact that healthy relationships with others are the cornerstone of a fulfilled existence. Therefore, even if it has a good share of issues, a relationship is always better than no relationships. However, this approach is only applicable to messy relationships with emotional equity and arguments, conflicts, and expectations. In this article, we have taken a stepwise approach discussing relationship expectation issues and conflicts. Ultimately, timely corrective action is the key to saving messy relationships and stopping them from becoming toxic!

Perfectionism and its damage to Relationships

There are three kinds of perfectionism that negatively influence relationships.

The first kind of perfectionism is the "other-oriented perfectionism effect," making people angry and dominating towards their partners as the latter fail to live up to their high expectations. Then there is the "self-oriented perfectionism," which makes people judge themselves negatively when they do not meet the exceedingly high standards they have set for themselves. The third form of perfectionism is "society-driven perfectionism," which makes people strive continuously to live up to society's high standards.

Society driven perfectionism often leads to the Social Disconnection model that's a relationship destructor. People experiencing SDM experience a vivid sense of isolation and alienation, and they become oversensitive to perceived hostility and criticism. All three perfectionism types lead to relationship trouble, as 90% of conflicts arise from expectations. Expectation management is the key to achieving healthy and functional relationships as it is a proven fact that no relationship is perfect. If you find that you are struggling with deeply rooted conflicts and severe expectation management issues that are harming your relationship, you can approach us for professional help.

Resolving Conflicts the Healthy Way

Every relationship has its share of conflicts, and those that don't can't be termed "healthy." A zero-conflict situation suggests a lack of emotional investment and is usually a red flag for the relationship. However, when conflicts tend to dominate the relationship and occupy the major share of relationship conversations, it becomes a red flag. Top psychologists concur that it is not the things you fight about but the way you fight about them that makes all the difference. 

Researchers have identified four negative fighting strategies that couples should avoid at all costs. These are criticism, stonewalling/ withdrawal, contempt, and defensiveness. These negative strategies destroy the shared set of goals that couples are expected to have and move the focus from "Us" to "I." There is a scope of good conflict in every relationship, which leads to a better, non-messy, stronger relationship.

If partners can identify these conflicts and work on them as a couple, then the relationship will become truly fulfilling. However, sometimes conflict arises from deep-rooted behavioral patterns that are impossible to identify (let alone address) on an individual level. This is where our trained team of psychologists at our San Diego Clinic can help. We specialize in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that has been established as the best method of resolving negative behavior patterns sustainably. We also offer one-on-one counseling sessions, couples counseling sessions with experienced relationship counselors, and virtual counseling sessions.

Dealing with Non-Redeemable Relationships

Ultimately, accepting a partner who is not perfect may be the key to a fulfilling, non-messy relationship. Finding a healthy equation with your partner is a long term quest that requires dedication and patience. Partners need to be OK with the reality that every relationship has its share of storms and rains. However, there are situations when two people have reached the end of their relationship lifecycle, and there are hostilities and conflicts in their relationship that cannot be resolved even after professional interventions.

These are cases when one or both the partners experience anxiety, mistrust, and irreversible hostility towards each other, and these are relationships that are termed "toxic." Partners continuing in the relationship slowly move towards depression or pathological aggression and ultimately end up with severe emotional damage to their sense of individuality and self-esteem. In such cases, a peaceful cycle of disengagement followed by self-reflection can be suggested by psychologists. Usually, self-reflection followed by active participation in Cognitive-behavioral Therapy sessions are enough to smoothen down relationship issues. When the couple goes through the painful trauma of separation, psychological support is needed to emerge from the cycle of grief-closure-healing healthily.

Author
Dr. Neda Khodaparast Neda Khodaparast, PsyD, QME, is the founder and CEO of The Green Room Psychological Services Inc. in San Diego, California. Dr. Khodaparast earned her doctorate from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology in Boston. She has over 15 years in clinical practice providing individual and couple therapy, as well as conducting forensic evaluations for personal injuries, civil cases, immigration evaluations, and pre surgical clearance psychological evaluations. She has also been conducting medical-legal worker’s compensation evaluations as a Qualified Medical Evaluator (QME) Since 2014. Dr. Khodaparast specializes in utilizing psychodynamic orientation and focuses on treating trauma and PTSD including childhood sexual and physical abuse, sexual assualt’s survivors, war truama, as well as eating disorders, and adoption related issues. She appreciates the complexity of human’s psyche and understands the process and the importance of “meeting the patients where they at.”

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