Your relationship personality

Are you a control freak? A commitment addict? Do you mother your lover? Identify your type and learn more about your flaws.

Commitment addict
Why doesn't it work
Clinical and consulting psychologist Lerato Mabenge says the problem with a commitment addict is that their behaviour is suffocating for their partner. "She easily loses herself to the relationship and what she's doing is creating a pattern of dependence that is eventually followed by rejection from her partners," she explains. Mabenge says the need to constantly be in a relationship may stem from fear of abandonment. It may also, she says, be the result of an over-dependent relationship with a parent during childhood, where clear boundaries were not set.

Breaking the cycle
Mabenge says the best way to break out of this pattern of behaviour is to become aware of the void you are trying to fill and find empowering ways to fill it. "It's okay to be single. Take time out of relationships and learn to enjoy being alone. If you go into a relationship, do so free of expectations. Have your own life; it's the only way you'll be happy," she advises.

Mother hen
Why doesn't it work
"Mothering a partner creates a parent-child dynamic that eventually transforms a woman into a perpetrator because she resents all the work she's doing and expects her partner to be forever indebted to her," explains Mabenge. An overly nurturing woman, she says, is likely to attract dysfunctional and chaotic men and enables them to stay dysfunctional so she can keep them dependent on her. "When the man heals she is upset and since he doesn't need her anymore, he breaks up with her."

Breaking the cycle
In order for an intimate relationship to work, says Mabenge, it needs two mature adults, not a parent and a child. So recognise and acknowledge the innate strengths in your partner that can cure him of his weaknesses but only if that is what he wants. Most importantly she says, "let your partner take responsibility for his own life."

Control freak
Why doesn't it work
Psychotherapist Hanlie Raath says controlling behaviour happens when a partner is afraid of vulnerability and wants life to be predictable and certain. "Because of this she is attracted to kind and generous men who'll put her on a pedestal and worship her. She enslaves men, usually through her sexual prowess. When the man is sufficiently exhausted he may leave. Most men stay with this kind of woman because of the sex."

Breaking the cycle
Mabenge says that a control freak needs to get to grips and understand the underlying anxiety that is relieved when you control someone. She also recommends that women like Ndalo try and avoid quiet men who they can boss around because it perpetuates the problem.

Hiding behind a mask
Why doesn't it work
"This type of woman is insecure and lacks her own identity. she disappears into a relationship and men become bored because there is no challenge or experiencing of her true character. The relationship is empty and the attraction fades after some time and the woman will eventually reveal who she really is because she can't live a lie forever," says Raath.

Breaking the cycle
Raath says that fundamental aspects of your personality must be revealed from the beginning of the relationship. "Deeply personal things can be discussed and revealed later when you feel more secure about the other person's feelings. Women need to understand that if a man isn't attracted to the real you it doesn't mean there is something wrong with you or that you are unlovable. It just means he likes something different, not better," she explains.

Relationship personalties
Sometimes when we are in a relationship certain aspects of our personality become amplified or we change ourselves to suit a situation. Psychotherapist Hanlie Raath says that your essence should remain consistent in all contexts when you are psychologically well adjusted. "When we alter ourselves in a marked way in a relationship it's usually an attempt to deal with insecurity and manipulate an outcome that we don't believe would naturally work in our favour," explains Raath.

Changing yourself or adopting a persona, says Raath, is an attempt to get what we think will make us happy. "These characteristics have paid off in the past and so we repeat them. Some people adopt personas unconsciously and they need to be made aware of the destructive elements of these personas."

Psychologist Lerato Mabenge says that because relationships tend to arouse unmet needs, we may behave uncharacteristically or overcompensate by importing certain traits to our existing personality. However, she warns neither situation is sustainable in the long run.

The best way to communicate your needs and desires in a relationship is gradually, through a process of getting to know each other, advises Mabenge. "As the relationship grows discover your partner's needs and negotiate what you can realistically fulfil. Every relationship must be seen as an opportunity to learn about yourself."

What's your relationship personality? Tell us in the comment box below.

- True Love


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