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Virtually all of us have learned many ways of trying to have control over getting love and avoiding pain. We learned these protective behaviors when we were children, and as adults we unconsciously continue these learned controlling behaviors, such as anger, criticism, withdrawal, resistance, or compliance. For most people, these protective, controlling behaviors have become automatic and habitual. As soon as any fear is triggered, we automatically protect against the fear by arguing, blaming, attacking, judging, shutting down, resisting, or giving in. In relationships, the fears of rejection and engulfment – of losing the other or losing ourselves – generally underlie our protective behavior.

In a relationship, if one or both partners are closed, protected, controlling, then they cannot emotionally connect with each other. No matter how much time they spend together the connection will not be there when one or both are not open to change. Ironically, our intent to control brings about the very things we are trying to avoid with our controlling behavior.

We do not have control over another’s intent to be open and loving, but we do have control over our own intent to be open to learning about what it means to be loving ourselves and others. However, it takes both people being dedicated to learnirng their partners needs to emotionally bond.

The big challenge in relationships is to stay open to learning about loving each other. We tend to automatically and unconsciously revert back to our protective and controlling behavior, but being open to learning needs to be a conscious choice. When relationship partners are both able to reliably choose to be open to learning about loving themselves and each other, they create a sweet and safe environment for their love to flourish.

Are you ready to take the right steps to overcome your relationship challenges?