Relationships can often be a roller coaster. No matter if you are in the honeymoon phase of a new relationship or have been married for years, all partnerships will go through good times and rough patches. Especially if you are dating or in a new relationship, it might be hard to understand the underlying reasons for the ups and downs or moments of connection alongside days of friction. Not only are you trying to understand new relationship dynamics, you’re also trying to learn about the triggers, reactions, and personality of another person during these early stages of a relationship.
This isn’t an easy feat and it’s often met with confusion, misunderstandings, and a lack of clarity about the direction of the relationship. If you are seeking a deeper understanding of your relationship, consider examining whether your relationship is 1) good for you and whether your partner is 2) good to you.
In this post, we’ll dive into how you might regain clarity when feeling uncertain and confused in a foggy relationship by diving into these two perspectives.
The role of your attachment system
If you identify as having an anxious attachment style, you likely grew up with a model of relationships that left you feeling anxious when there was distance or uncertainty about when and how a parent would respond. Now, as an adult, you feel that way with friends and partners as well. You might over analyze your relationship and create stories around why certain situations occur. For instance, if your partner is acting distant or less engaged than you would like, you might tell yourself a story that it’s due to something you said the night before or it’s due to a certain aspect of your personality. This is most likely not the case at all but the result of your tendency to be more hyper-vigilant to information and then spiral up stories when things aren’t unfolding with certainty.
It’s more common for those with anxious attachment systems, when feeling activated by uncertainty and perceived distance, to spin out stories, become emotional, and have a hard time tuning into what is really important. Therefore, the anxiously attached tend to be more inherently overwhelmed in or consumed by a relationship. To others who have a secure or avoidant attachment style, they may appear desperate for connection or obsessed with gaining clarity in the early stages when confusion is common.
If this resonates with how you feel, practicing secure attachment behaviors is an important step to getting a handle on your feelings and emotions. This, in turn, will lead to more clarity about the relationship and a healthier perspective as well.
Filter out what’s important - Good to you and Good for you
If you find yourself trying to gain clarity in your relationship, consider filtering out important information through lists, journaling, reflecting, and other behaviors. For example, start by listing relationship behaviors that are good for you. That might include things like: consistent communication, similar values, knowing where we stand, honesty or whatever is important to you in a partnership. Then, list what is looks like for a partner to be good to you based on the list you just created. This list might include, responding to my messages within an hour when feasible, valuing my feelings, showing up for plans made, making plans with me in advance, being willing to talk about where we stand as a couple.
When you can get granular about the things that make you feel secure, you can get clarity around whether the relationship is truly meeting your needs or not. And, with time, you can get clear about your dating goals overall. Instead of allowing the emotions of it all to swirl around you and create confusion, this approach will provide you with the understanding that you need to approach your partner about your needs and the changes you desire, resulting in a more fulfilling relationship.
So often, relationship success is about understanding one’s own needs and how to request that those needs be met. It’s about standing firm in one’s values despite changing emotions and circumstances. It’s about bearing witness to the situation around you without being consumed by the feelings that the situation creates.
At Center for Shared Insight in Denver, Colorado, we work with individuals seeking more fulfilling relationships, whether they are dating, married, newly divorced, in a committed partnership, or even working to deepen their relationship with siblings, friends, and parents. We help you uncover dating patterns that might be contributing to challenges and work with you to change your thoughts and behaviors. Our work begins with a free consultation in our Denver office so we can better understand your unique situation and how our therapists can help.