The issue of how we are set up to fail to get our needs met in Romantic Relationships is so complex - multi-leveled, multi-faceted, and multi-dimensional - that instead of writing an individual, fully contained article here I am going to make this Web Page a collage of different facets of this issue - individual vignettes with quotes from my books and articles.
I am thinking of this web page as if it were a crystal with multiple facets. Each facet reflects a little different perspective on the issue of Romantic Relationships. I am going to limit this page to seven of these different but very much interrelated facets.
Our hearts have been broken because we were taught to do the Dance of Love in a dysfunctional way/to the wrong music.
We are set up to fail to get our needs met in Romantic Relationships in the same way that we are set up to fail in life - by being taught false beliefs about who we are and why we are here in human body, false beliefs about the meaning and purpose of this dance of life.
Our mental attitudes and beliefs set up our perspective and expectations which in turn dictate our relationships. With everything. With our self as human beings, with life, with our own emotions, with our bodies, gender, and sexuality - with our concept of God. With the concept of Romantic Relationship and what constitutes success or failure in a Romantic Relationship.
In taking a look at our basic relationship with Romantic Relationships it is important to take note of how far out on the cause and effect spectrum it resides. All of the relationships described in the third sentence in the above paragraph are in the cause realm in relationship to our Romantic Relationships. In other words, not only does our basic relationship with our self, with life, with our concept of a God-Force have a profound affect on our Romantic Relationships - but our relationships with our own emotions, bodies, gender and sexuality are also cause that have effects/consequences/impact on our Romantic Relationships. Any problems/wounds/dysfunction we have in our relationship with our own gender (or sexuality or emotions, etc.) is going to effect our Romantic Relationships.
Now, to make my point here very clearly:
Almost any "problem" encountered in a Romantic Relationship is a symptom / effect of some deeper "problem" within our relationship with our self!
And we live in a culture where we are taught that the "right"/successful Romantic Relationship can make all those other problems go away!
Like, duh, no wonder we have problems with Romantic Relationships.
It starts in early childhood with Fairy Tales where the Prince and the Princess live happily-ever-after. It continues in movies and books where "boy meets girl" "boy loses girl" "boy gets girl back" - the music swells and the happy couple ride off into the sunset. The songs that say "I can't smile without you" "I can't live without you" "You are my everything" describe the type of love we learned about growing up - that is, an addiction with the other person as our drug of choice.
If a successful Romantic Relationship will cure all of our self-esteem, self-image, gender/body/emotional issues then the other person is set up to be our Higher Power. This is a formula, a set up, to cause dysfunctional Romantic Relationships. (I am using dysfunctional here to mean: does not work to help us get our needs met - mental, emotional, physical, and Spiritual needs.)
Any time we set another human being up to be our Higher Power we are going to experience failure in whatever we are trying to accomplish. We will end up feeling victimized by the other person or by our self - and even when we feel victimized by the other person we blame our self for the choices we made. We are set up to fail in Romantic Relationships because of the belief system we were taught in childhood and the messages we got from our society growing up.
"As was stated earlier, Codependence could more accurately be called outer or external dependence. Outside influences (people, places, and things; money, property, and prestige) or external manifestations (looks, talent, intelligence) can not fill the hole within. They can distract us and make us feel better temporarily but they cannot address the core issue - they cannot fulfill us Spiritually. They can give us ego-strength but they cannot give us self-worth.
True self-worth does not come from temporary conditions. True self-worth comes from accessing the eternal Truth within, from remembering the state of Grace that is our True condition."
"As long as we believe that someone else has the power to make us happy then we are setting ourselves up to be victims."
Ultimately we feel lost because we feel disconnected from our Spiritual Source. We have a hole in our soul and we keep trying to fill it with outside things because that is what we were taught defined us. We grew up in emotionally dishonest societies that taught us that if we were good enough, did enough, did it "right," we would get rewarded. That when we met our soul mate and got married we would get to live "happily ever after."
We have all been lost, trying to fill the hole in our soul with whatever we could find that would work in the moment to help us keep from feeling the emotional pain - alcohol or work or family or sex or religion or whatever. For many of us that meant Romantic Relationships. If we just found the right Romantic Relationship, or changed ourselves (or the other person) enough to make the one we were in work - then everything would be OK.
"As long as you believe that the other person is the source of your happiness you will feel compelled to try to control them so that you can stay happy. You can not control them and be happy."
Wedding Prayer/Meditation on Romantic Commitment
"Codependence is about giving power to external or outer forces (including other people) over our self-esteem - over how we feel about our self. That is dysfunctional - it does not work. What we are striving for is to learn to be Interdependent - to make allies, form partnerships - not make someone or something outside of us (i.e. our career, money, etc.), or external to our being, our higher power that determines if we have self-worth.
I have a column about the difference the Codependence vs Interdependence page.
Codependence is also a disease of reversed focus - it is about focusing outside of ourselves for self-definition and self-worth. That sets us up to be a victim. We have worth because we are Spiritual Beings not because of how much money or success we have - or how we look or how smart we are - or who we are in relationship with. When self-worth is determined by looking outside it means we have to look down on someone else to feel good about ourselves - this is the cause of bigotry, racism, class structure, and Jerry Springer.
The goal is to focus on who we really are - get in touch with the Light and Love within us and then radiate that outward. I think that is what Mother Theresa did - I can't know for sure because I never met her and it can be difficult to tell looking from the outside where a person's focus is - Mother Theresa could have been a raging codependent who was doing good on the outside in order to feel good about herself - or she could have been being True to her Self by accessing the Love and Light within and reflecting outward. Either way the effect was that she did some great things - the difference would have been how she felt about herself at the deepest levels of her being - because it does not make any real difference how much validation we get from outside if we are not Loving ourselves. If I did not start working on knowing that I had worth as a Spiritual Being - that there is a Higher Power that Loves me - it would never have made any real difference how many people told me I was wonderful."
Q & A page on Robert's original website
No one has the power to make someone else love him/herself, we only have the power to change our relationship with our self.
We cannot love someone else enough to make them love them self.