Licensed Professional Counselor
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Helping people to heal and grow in their lives.

Are You Experiencing Relationship Problems?

Intimate relationships can be a real gift, bringing joy, connection, and love into your life. But when important relationships are not going well, life can feel lonely, depressing, and unsatisfying. Whether your relationships turn out to be frustrating or fulfilling has a lot to do with the patterns and behaviors that you bring to these relationships. Some of the common patterns and behaviors that may be at the root of your relationship problems include:

  • Continually feeling misunderstood or underappreciated by your partner
  • Easily getting hurt or angered by your partner
  • Isolating or withdrawing when upset
  • Believing that you are responsible for your partner’s happiness
  • Experiencing anxiety or panic at the thought of being away from your partner
  • Feeling inhibited or unsafe with intimacy or sexuality
  • Getting jealous easily
  • Feeling like you've been hurt too many times or too deeply to ever love again
  • Being hostile or argumentative (lacking healthy communication skills)
  • Putting up with a disrespectful partner because you don't believe that you deserve anything better

If you've struggled with relationship problems, it can be tempting to blame your partner or jump from one relationship to another. But as long as you continue your old relationship patterns and behaviors, you are likely to see the same results.

Counseling for relationship problems can help!

Individual relationship counseling is an effective way to address personal relationship challenges. Examples include overcoming commitment and abandonment fears; healing from a painful breakup; overcoming hesitancy around entering a new relationship; addressing loneliness and difficulty with intimacy; healing relationships with family members; developing healthy relationship skills; and situations where your partner is unable or unwilling to attend couples counseling with you.

By getting to the source of your problem, you can address the painful relationship patterns that set you up for disharmony. Painful and difficult experiences that take place in important childhood relationships are often at the root of current relationship struggles. If you've experienced any of the below issues, you've experienced the type of emotional trauma that can significantly impact your intimate relationships:

  • Abuse (physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual)
  • Death of a loved one (e.g., a parent, sibling, partner, friend)
  • Being constantly put down, humiliated, or embarrassed by an important person
  • Being heavily criticized by a parent, sibling, or someone close to you
  • Having your boundaries violated by an authority figure
  • Growing up in a home with an alcoholic or addict

Traumas from childhood relationships have a significant impact because they create sensitivities that get triggered in your current relationships. For example, criticism or emotional unavailability by a partner can unknowingly bring up the old pain of having a highly critical or emotionally distant parent. The problem is that all the pain and suffering from the past is experienced in the present, creating problems in your current relationship

Trauma can be challenging to overcome because of the way it gets "frozen" in your nervous system. The experiences that were emotionally overwhelming to you as a child often leave a traumatic "imprint" on you, which is what accounts for your current sensitivities.

Another factor that contributes to relationship struggles is known as an "attachment wound." Attachment wounds are a certain type of trauma that occur when parents (or caregivers) fail to adequately meet your childhood needs, such as safety, protection, love, affection, positive attention, nurture, validation, and understanding. Examples of attachment wounds include:

  • Being ignored, abandoned, or rejected by a parent (or important caregiver)
  • Having a self-absorbed, unsupportive, or emotionally unavailable parent
  • Having an enmeshing or overly controlling parent
  • A pattern of invalidation or lack of support by a parent
  • Experiencing a lack of love, interest, or praise
  • Experiencing a lack of nurture, warmth, affection, empathy, or acceptance
  • Having a parent who was emotionally misattuned and/or wasn't good at listening

When important childhood needs are not met, it's common that a person will carry these emotional deficits into adulthood and unknowingly attempt to get these needs met by their significant other (as well as in other important relationships). This can manifest in your relationship as clinginess, neediness or jealousy; anger due to perceived rejection; withdrawing due to fear of abandonment; chronically feeling unsupported or underappreciated; enmeshment; or constantly feeling let down or disappointed by your partner.

Not all relationship needs are due to attachment wounds, however. Humans are hardwired to form relationships - we do have healthy relationship needs for love, intimacy, affection, support, companionship, respect, appreciation, etc. But if attachment needs have gone unmet, you'll typically find that you have a more intense reaction than you'd prefer when your needs are not met well by your partner or that no matter what your partner does for you, you never feel satisfied or fulfilled. When attachment needs have been solidly met, you're likely to find that you enjoy giving and receiving with your partner; you still feel secure even when your partner is unavailable to engage with you; and that you generally feel fulfilled in your relationship.

Fortunately, the emotional traumas and attachment wounds that hold you back from experiencing fulfilling intimate relationships can be addressed. I utilize specific counseling techniques with the goal of helping you to release the traumas and resolve the attachment wounds that have been the source of your recurring relationship problems. Imagine what it would be like to:

  • Experience more meaningful and enjoyable relationships
  • Enjoy intimacy
  • Feel trusting and safe with your partner
  • Communicate more effectively
  • Feel comfortable setting healthy boundaries
  • Be more assertive with your relationship needs
  • Let go of worries of abandonment and rejection
  • Be less critical and angry

Relationship problems can be very confusing and overwhelming, but they typically have a specific source. By addressing the cause of your current relationship struggles, maladaptive relationship patterns and behaviors can be transformed into new, healthier skills. Counseling for relationship problems can be an effective way to help you find the satisfaction and fulfillment that you desire from your relationships.

For Counseling in Portland, feel free to call me today at (503) 887-3309, email me, or use my Contact Form to book a counseling session or to set up a FREE consultation.

Office located in NW Portland, Oregon. Serving the Portland metro area, including Beaverton, Hillsboro, Lake Oswego, Tigard, West Linn, Milwaukie, Oregon City, Tualatin, Gresham, and Vancouver, WA.