Mandy Kloppers

Why relationships are so complicated

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When it comes to relationships, there are so many things that can go wrong. I have often wondered why relationships are so complicated. At a very basic level, two people meet, two people like what they see and two people live happily ever after. The reality is, sadly, very different from this idealistic picture.

Two people meet, they like each other and then they wonder if the other person likes them enough. Are they faithful? Do they like me for me? The initial stages of a relationship are wonderful. You view your love interest through rose-tinted glasses and they can do no wrong. It helps when both people are on best behaviour.

Over time, bad habits emerge (they were always there but hidden) and the rosy picture is tinged with less excitement and a healthy dose of reality.

Why relationships are so complicated

Inequality in the relationship

Inequality comes in many forms – financial inequality and love and affection that is mismatched are just two examples of an imbalance in a relationship. Relationships are so complicated when it comes to finances. Often one person may have more money than the other and if they aren’t generous, it can cause issues. This is especially true in a stable long-term relationship. Some people use money as a way to control their partner.

Sexual attraction and libido differences

Libido’s change over time and are affected by age, illness and stress. A short spell of no sex isn’t usually a problem but long-term differences in libido can cause issues. Some individuals take it as a personal rejection when their partner doesn’t want sex. A lack of sexual interaction in a relationship can be a dealbreaker for some.

Mind games in relationships

Unfortunately, mind games in relationships are common. Relationships are so complicated when individuals don’t communicate directly and begin unhelpful ways of communicating. Passive-aggressive behaviour is unhelpful and causes damage over time. This is when someone doesn’t say what they really want but resist their partners wishes or secretly try to thwart their partner’s efforts. Perhaps they aren’t happy that their boyfriend or girlfriend is succeeding at work. On the surface they will appear supportive but their underlying passive-aggressive behaviour will show their true feelings. They may never want to talk about your work or say that you have become boring. Subtle putdowns are a good example of passive-aggressive behaviour.

Tit-for-tat behaviour is another way that couples sabotage their chances of a longterm happy coupling. If one person forgets to call, the other person  gets annoyed and instead of talking about it, they copy the behaviour. This just causes more issues.

Infidelity and dishonesty

Infidelity always spells trouble for relationships. Even open relationships tend to end up with problems over time. Eventually, one person tends to favour one of their partners and this favoritism causes an imbalance and emotional problems further down the line. Very few relationships can withstand an affair. Once the trust is broken it is very difficult to repair and the relationship will never be the same. It may survive but the ‘baggage’ will always be there.

Abuse and narcissism

Abuse and narcissistic type behaviours are toxic to relationships. There is often an imbalance of power in these types of relationships. One person is more dominant and the other person is either passive or very easy going and prefers an easy life without conflict. This is one of the worst complications you can experience in relationships. Relationships are so complicated when one person is subdued and is always trying to keep the peace. You end up walking on egg shells, never sure what might set your partner off. It’s no way to live. But leaving an abusive relationship isn’t easy. Once you are emotionally hooked you tend to filter out the negative behaviour and keep hoping they will change.

Differing levels of commitment

Stable ambiguity 

Stable ambiguity is the term used to explain a lack of commitment. It’s a stable attitude of ‘sitting on the fence’. The desire for the chase, affection and attention is stable but the commitment to one person is lacking. Online dating encourages this type of behaviour because everyone thinks there might be someone better out there. If your date chews their food strangely, you will immediately be thinking about the long list of other options waiting for you at home on your online dating profile. This idea of availability is incorrect. If you took 100 people and put them in a room, you would find you weren’t attracted to at least 60%. Once you talked to them you would most likely exclude another 20%. This leaves you with 20 possible prospects and after two or three dates that number will decrease again. So, it’s a myth to imagine there are hundreds of suitable people out there and that it’s only a matter or two or three dates to get there. Of course, some people are lucky but for most people, it’s a challenge to find the right person.

Different background and values

Coming from different backgrounds and having different values pose a huge problem for the compatibility of two people. If your values are poles apart, you will find it difficult to stay together. It’s not impossible but you will have your work cut out for you. This is especially true if your values are at odds with each other. For example, if one of you loves adventure and the other likes a quiet life at home. Cultural differences stop relationships in their tracks. Something to consider before getting too involved and/or attached.

Intellectual compatibility

It’s more of a challenge when you aren’t matched in the cerebral arena. If you only enjoy football, you might not be best matched to a neuroscientist. Each to their own but it’s prudent to think about your intellectual compatibility. It’s yet another reason why relationships are so complicated.

I don’t mean to seem negative. Relationships can be wonderful but they are still generally complicated. Two people from different upbringings and backgrounds come together with their own needs and wants. They have a lot to navigate in order to make a smooth transition to relationship longevity.

Communication is important in relationships

If you don’t communicate, problems will accumulate. Communicate often and talk about issues that crop up. Don’t bottle it up and end up resentful. That is when criticism, disrespect, resentment, stonewalling and intolerance emerge.

Relationships take work. Take stock of the state of your relationship regularly. If you feel you are growing apart, spend more time together. Put the effort in and the rewards will be plentiful.

Mandy X

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