People that are intimate relationships often struggle with different kinds of issues. They can feel confused and upset and they wonder how they can love someone that they barely feel like they know. They don’t understand why intimacy is such a big deal and why it is so hard. From the beginning they were intimate but now it seems like it is a constant struggle.
There is no easy reason and no easy answer and depending on the situation, you might have to look at your whole relationship again.
Family Toxicity and Dysfunction
It is hard to talk about this sometimes, but families have a lot to do with how we build the relationships around us. If you have a family that is toxic and dysfunctional then chances are this is who you become.
What Does it Mean to Be Dysfunctional?
There are some things that you might have experienced in your family:
- They don’t tell each other they love them.
- They never see their parents show intimacy such as hugging or kissing.
- Important moments like birthdays are ignored.
- Children in the family are told to be quiet and not to say what they feel.
If you have seen any of these things as normal when you were grown up, then chances are you have lived in a dysfunctional home. It might not be until you go to school that you realize that your family isn’t quiet normal. This might be when you sleepover somewhere in a family that has a loving home or if you go to a gathering outside of your home. It is in these times that you begin to see how different your family is from other family dynamics.
Maybe at a sleepover you saw your friend celebrated or you saw the parents hug and kiss each other often. This can be different from what you saw in your own home, and it might make you wonder why your family isn’t happy like other families.
Healthy Families and Dysfunctional Families
Healthy families have parental figures that are there to help their child. They ask questions and they allow their children to ask questions. They want their child to be happy and to know things and so they encourage them to be thoughtful and to say their true feelings. They empathize when their child is sad or feeling down.
These families will put their children at top and the child will feel loved, believed in, appreciated, heard, and cared for. They know that being a parent is hard and so they want their child to grow up to be self-sufficient and strong. They will guide their child to become better no matter what they are going through.
They want their children to be strong and to be healthy and so they will validate their feelings and respect what they say. They support them and understand them, and they allow their child to confide in them with their needs.
Dysfunctional families are different. They don’t encourage there to be expression and they don’t want their child to have conversations that are meaningful with them. They reject emotional support and intimacy, and they don’t show affection to each other or to their children. If the child does something wrong, they are a disappointment.
The father might be someone that won’t spend time with you, and he expects you to understand that because he is out working to bring money to the family. He wants you to be thankful for everything that he does for you and if you say otherwise then you are the problem.
These kinds of families will get angry if there is a sensitive person and they accuse them of being overly emotional and react with anger. They take this person, and they tell them that they are just ungrateful and unsatisfied and that they cause all the problems in the family.
If you are the sensitive one, they will make you feel that you are the problem, and they will resent you for trying to make them talk to you or to make you force them to care. They are toxic and they don’t want you to talk about it. This may make you feel unsafe and make you feel that you don’t fit into your family.
Knowing a Family Dysfunction
Most people don’t like to admit that they are in a dysfunctional family. They avoid lessons and build up defense mechanisms so that they can don’t have to deal with the trauma that they experienced as a child. They grow up and they feel that they were never loved and then they have a hard time forming relationships with other people.
The people that have a hard time being complimented and those that are often feeling humiliated probably came from these kinds of families. You might feel that it is easier to complement others than to receive them or you might feel that being celebrated makes you cringe.
These people have an inner child that is constantly telling them that they aren’t special or important and that they think they are better than others. This stops them from being able to be loved by others. Since the family made them feel that they were hated and that they were unreasonable and overly sensitive, it might cause them to resent those that are self-confident and strong.
People that aren’t living their real life are often tortured by thinking things like:
- If you knew who I was you wouldn’t like me.
- I’m not really who you think I am.
They will avoid being close to others because they don’t want to have emotional intimacy and expose their sensitivity because they are afraid that people will put them down for this. They want to be around others that won’t ask questions because they have a wall up to protect themselves from more rejection that they might get.
But, as these people become adults, they realize that they have nothing to keep them safe and that finding healthy love is something that might be able to happen if they are able to receive it. Everyone has the chance to hurt others and you can choose to have emotional distance so that you never get hurt or you can open up.
Children that were in homes where they weren’t allowed to say how they feel often make their own decisions and are shamed if they share what they are thinking. These are children that grow up to be adults that want to control everything. They want to control how people look at them, they want to control how they look, they want to control their relationships, they want to control what makes them have feelings and they want to make sure that they are not put in a position where they will be insecure or vulnerable.
These are people that are often emotionally unavailable because they don’t want to feel the loss of someone that they love if that person decides to turn on them later. They want love and they want to enjoy others, but they don’t like the risks.
Some people will take the risks in order to feel that they belong or to have love, but others will avoid these risks no matter what. They will live in survival mode and not in love and even the threat of loving someone makes them worried and scared. They will never give up their control even if it means that they lose the person that they love.
Breaking Generational Cycles
It might be hard to know and understand toxic traits that you were taught in your family but recognizing these things is the first step in changing. You have to be able to understand what your defense mechanisms are and what you have done in regards to this growing up.
You have to relearn how to live your life in ways that builds you up and doesn’t cause you to have fear. You have to get rid of the fear and stop being defensive over everything. This will take therapy and other kinds of help to help you get past this. You need to be around people that are good for you and those that want to see you succeed and to be happy.
Understanding love and learning to love yourself can be hard but this will cause you to have changes in who you are and in your relationships. It will also change how you see the world. You need to understand that not everyone in your life is your enemy and not everyone will take your vulnerabilities and turn them against you. These are people that can give you compassion and love and help you to express your emotions and to know you are loved.
Here are some things that can happen once you start getting to this place:
- You can accept a compliment that someone gives you.
- You know that you deserve to be complimented and you are happy with this.
- You can understand who you really are.
- You accept that you are worthy of love.
- You let your experiences increase the quality of your life.
You also have to learn to get rid of the cycle of dysfunction in your life. If you are a parent, a friend, a relative, a spouse or whoever you are, you can build your family around a loving home that is kind, supportive, celebratory, and happy. Don’t ever give up on this.