We all have our relationship blind spots. And many times our blind spots are the result of past hurts or experiences in our life. The great news is that we are not imprisoned by our past. We can make changes, and the first step in that direction is identifying our issues. As I’ve written previously, I believe there are four major blind spots. And wrote about the first one here. Let’s get to the second common relationship blind spot which is: only seeing what you want to see.
Let me illustrate this blind spot with an example from a client I worked with. Let’s call her Elle. Elle’s father left when she was 5 years old and she never heard from him again.
Her mother didn’t date much, worked a lot, and never remarried. Her mother did the best she could, but this client grew up without a father figure in her life. Elle never really experienced the unconditional love from her father or even a healthy and close relationship with any man. This developed into an intense and devastating need for attention and affection from men.
When she received a little attention from a man, she had a vacuum of need and she couldn’t get enough. This is what ultimately brought her to counseling. She was aggressively pursuing men that were terrible to her. Her unresolved issues from the past were haunting her and created an extreme dependence on men in her life.
Because she had such a deep need for attention from men she would over-idealize almost any man who was even somewhat decent to her. She believed that these men were good, that they would take care of her. But typically they treated her terribly. Her extreme need morphed into a major relationship blind spot. And she saw what she wanted to see because of her desire to have a meaningful, lasting, loving connection.
Only seeing what you want to see is best described as an over-idealization of your partner(s). Just like in Elle’s case, this typically develops because some emotional issue from your past hasn’t been dealt with. Because of past unresolved issues, it is common to look to others in your present and future relationships to meet that need. Ultimately, this creates an intense dependence on others as well as a distorted opinion of them. This puts you at risk for over-idealizing a partner and staying in a relationship that is ultimately unhealthy.
If any of this sounds familiar to you, please remember what I said in the beginning of this post: You do not have to be imprisoned by your past.
However, you do have some work to do.
First, you will need to take a deep look at your early experiences and identify your pattern of relating to others. Specifically, identify how the extreme need developed in your life and how you seek to meet it through your present day relationships.
Then, you will need to create a plan for behaving differently in your relationships. It helps to write out your current ways of behaving and then determine what “different” looks like. Write that down too. And commit to doing things differently.
Finally, you will need to gain new information. Sometimes this comes directly from the source (for Elle, this was her father) or maybe through meeting with a professional or reading a book. But new information is critical to making a meaningful change.
And I know from Elle’s example, and many others, that change is possible.
We identified and connected Elle’s past hurts to how they have impacted her. She wrote a letter to her father, explaining the hurt and pain he caused. We worked through this letter together to help her find a place of healing.
And when we discussed new ways of behaving in her relationships, she took those on and practiced implementing new patterns. We worked together to create a plan for changing her relationship behaviors in her current and future relationships.
By the end of our time together, Elle was taking better care of herself in her relationships. She was using better judgment and not settling for someone just because he gave her attention. I guess you could say her blinders were removed.
Getting past your blind spots don’t always require a professional; but commitment to new behaviors and empowering yourself with new information can go a long way.
One resource that I can offer is our online course called Head Meets Heart. This course does not replace therapy, but the live version taught over a million singles worldwide how to keep your head and heart working together in your relationships. You can check the course out here.
As a special gift to I Believe in Love readers, get 50% off the course with coupon code IBELIEVEINLOVE.