Ask Andrew – Why can’t I make a lasting relationship?
I’d like to ask you about the section on legacy from your parents in chapter 2 of The Single Trap. My background didn’t seem to be covered and would be great to hear your thoughts on possible things I have inherited from my upbringing.
I am an only child, bought up just my Mum. She’s had 2 boyfriends that I remember, one live-in during my twenties, who she’s just split up with.
I had enforced visits to my father and his family up until the age of about 18, I now only have contact via Christmas cards. My Mum doesn’t get on with any of her family so I don’t have any contact with them.
However I have loving godparents and my Mum has been fantastic and we are still very close.
I am now 31, I have had a few short but intense relationships, which have all been ended by them.
My Mum had a very brief marriage before she met my father and had me when she was 38 (they didn’t stay together). How can I avoid the same pitfalls?
I was struck by three things in your letter which I think you should explore further.
1. I had enforced visits to my father and his family up until the age of about 18, I now only have contact via Christmas cards.
2. Mum doesn’t get on with any of her family so I don’t have any contact with them.
3. I have had a few short but intense relationships, which have all been ended by them.
I wonder about the legacy of such a relationship with your father and why you can not have an adult relationship with him? If I was your therapist, I would looking at you making some kind of peace with him. Have a look at ‘Help your partner say yes’ and the section about TA and how to have an adult to adult relationship.
Think about the impact of your mum being such a powerful figure in your life, with the exception of your god parents, literary your only significant other. In this scenario, it would be incredibly difficult to disagree – for fear of being cast out in the darkness (like her family were). So she might have been a wonderful mother but nobody is beyond criticism – otherwise we have a very black and white view of the world. Perhaps you need to have a more adult relationship with her too?
Finally, that brings me to NEVER having ended a relationship. Why do you think that might have been? Really think about it because it will probably hold the key to unravelling your situation. Did you find it hard to criticise your partners? Did you feel any problems were down to you? Did you drift away and force them to end it? I can only guess but you will know the answer.