Dana and I commenced relationship coaching because she was struggling in her love life. She was in her mid 30s and had experienced a series of short-term relationships with men over the last decade, but none of them had developed into anything more substantial. She was feeling anxious and depressed about the possibility of meeting anyone significant.
What’s more, she now felt incredibly cynical about dating new men, and thought that she was putting off new suitors when she did go on new dates because the last four dates had gone nowhere. She wanted to understand what she was doing that was repelling men.
Discovering her blocks to intimacy
In our work together, we realised that Dana had some big blocks about being in an intimate relationship that were rooted in her family of origin. Her mother and father had gone through a devastating divorce when she was 8 years old.
Her mum had turned her against her dad and sought solace in Dana when things were bad in the relationship with her husband. Dana had felt helpless and powerless to change her parent’s marriage and had internalised this distress. She had also developed a strong belief that marriage meant unhappiness and conflict and as a result, had begun to sabotage her own relationships when anyone got close to her.
Her relationship template was distorted so that she expected to fail at her relationships before they even began.
Throughout the course of our work together Dana made a lot of connections with why her relationships were not getting off the ground and how her negative beliefs were undermining her efforts to forma long term relationship. Even though all this awareness was good, it didn’t directly change her current predicament.
She needed to grieve for her hurt little girl
It became apparent that there was a little 8-year old girl part of her that was still carrying the hurt and pain from her parents divorce. We needed to connect with that part of her and allow her to feel the grief and loss that was never expressed at the time.
Through a series of creative exercises and homework, Dana got in touch with her unfinished pain and grief from the past. She was able to express it fully and make sense of how she had been affected by her parents divorce. This was a powerful healing moment in our work together and allowed Dana to then make the shifts she needed in he life.
Dana’s love-life moved from dull to delicious
It was no coincidence that soon after Dana had done work around her hurt and grief that things started to shift for her. Dana was feeling much more optimistic about her future and enthusiastic about meeting new people. Overall, she reported that she felt very positive about herself and she was much more present and engaged in her life.
What’s more, she was back on the dating scene and loving meeting new and interesting people. She told me her whole outlook had changed and that she had shaken her pervasive cynical and pessimistic attitude about relationships and men. In fact, she had 3 very interesting men all wanting to date her at one point and she had to spend some time deciding who she wanted to take things further with- what a dilemma!
When I made a follow-up call with Dana about 3 months after our last session, she reported that things were going very well. She was in a serious relationship with a man from her gym called Sean and she was feeling confident, secure and happy about the direction they were going in. Dana told me the most significant part of our work was when she had recognised she was still carrying the hurt and pain of her 8-year old. Her ability to reconnect with this old pain and move through it had given her the freedom to move out of her despair and start to design her life just as she wanted it. She told me that her life and her relationship were ‘delicious’!
(All depictions of clients are altered to protect client confidentiality, and may include an amalgam of different cases seen in actual clinical practice.)
Clinton Power is a relationship counsellor and Gestalt therapist with over a decade of experience helping individuals and couples move out of relationship pain and create great relationships. Get Clinton’s FREE report: 10 Tips for Moving Out of Relationship Pain, by clicking the button below or book an appointment today.