Stefanie Stahl in Conversation: Bestselling Writer Explains Why Some People Can’t Find a Partner
There are people who remain single for years even though they long for a relationship. Psychologist and bestselling author Stephanie Stahl see them in common. Problems often stem from childhood experiences.
Why do some people not find a partner even though they want a relationship? Is it a personal matter or personal? Are the demands too high? Or did some simply reconcile with being alone?
The reasons for being forced single are varied and individual. However, long-term singles often have things in common. Renowned psychologist and best-selling author Stephanie Stahl (“The Child In You Must Find A Home”) interviews the fears experienced by many people who cannot build a lasting relationship.
Internet Focus: Ms. Stahl, Why Some People Can’t Find a Partner?
Stephanie Stahl: Many people who are looking for a partner have an inner contradiction. On the one hand, they crave closeness and exclusive partnership. At the same time, they consciously – or often unconsciously – fear it.
What are the concerns up front?
Looting: The typical primal fear is loss. If you get involved in a relationship, it may also happen that the relationship fails or you are left behind. Especially people who do not have a good sense of self-esteem, who have a feeling that they are not enough, and who also expect loss because they think: “If you get to know me correctly, if you notice how I really am, then you will definitely find that I am no longer good.”
About Stephanie Stahl
Stephanie Stahl is a psychologist and expert in attachment psychology. She runs a psychotherapy clinic in Trier. She is best known for her bestseller The Child You Must Find a Home.
How does this fear affect relationships?
Looting: There are two paths to such relationship anxiety. Either directly, those affected are so afraid of being harmed and feel this fear so vividly that they would rather not enter into a relationship.
Or, and this often happens, they are people who learned early on as children that to be lovable they have to conform to their parents’ expectations. Hence experiences from childhood mean that those affected do not even outwardly feel their fear of loss, but only feel this pressure to adapt. These are people who quickly find relationships limiting.
What are the consequences of such an anxious relationship?
Looting: Either way you can fall in love. Then, after a short or longer phase, something I call double amplification occurs. This means that you are asking yourself: Is this really the right person? The nose is so long, and that stupid Swabian accent is annoying, he or she makes very loud chewing sounds, or whatever. In other words, you are magnifying your partner’s weaknesses, so to speak. Then the feelings subside and then withdraw from the relationship.
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“Everyone Can Have Relationships” – Written by Stephanie Stahl
“A happy love relationship is not a matter of luck, it is a matter of personal decision,” Stephanie Stahl says. Most of us have the ability to be happy with a partner.
What options are available to counter this?
Looting: Actually just realization. To really think about it: What made me? How is my self esteem? What is my deepest faith – what do I deserve? And what do I have to do to be loved? There lies the keys and answers to solving problems.
If I feel deeply that I am not enough and have to make an effort and meet the expectations of a partner to be loved – this is an internal attitude, an imprint that again and again leads to problems in relationships. Because those affected then feel that they are losing their freedom. They think I can’t always bend over to my partner and I don’t want to, either. They also often become stubborn. The key lies in self-reflection and then in changing your self-esteem and therefore also your attitude towards relationships.
Can you solve these problems on your own or do you need remedial help?
Looting: This depends on how deep the problem is. I always like to talk about naturally agitated people, by which I mean the average nervous person – they can get very far with books. Then there are people who have much bigger issues and footprints, which is fine for them if they have someone on their side.
You can also achieve a lot by becoming confident if you have one thing in common. I always try to pass this on to my readers, that there is a common thread and the steps they need to take to get there.
What are the typical problems in childhood that lead to relationship problems in adulthood?
Looting: There are two things parents need to be able to do: First, be present, meaning they are really there for their kids and don’t always delegate them away. The second is parental empathy and attachment. Children need to feel loved, and they often need – not always, and parents don’t need to be perfect – but children need to feel understood.
If the child does not feel particularly loved and understood, he bends in such a way that the relationship with his parents will somehow work, because the child is dependent on the love of his parents. This is a breeding ground for all kinds of problems later in life.
If you had a difficult childhood in this regard, how do you solve the problems?
Looting: Children who have to bend over backwards must always banish part of their feelings, deny them, and are not allowed to feel them. For example, some are not allowed to feel healthy anger or have to shake off the pain of loss and and and and. This has a very strong impact on emotional life in adulthood. So the solution always includes getting your feelings right.
Are there other factors influencing relationship behaviour, such as personality?
Looting: We are always a combination of our genes and our environmental conditioning. We bring our personality traits with us into the world and there are children who are more sensitive and anxious from birth, and are relatively unlikely to have problems later in life. And there are children who are born more powerful, some of them have a very harmonious character by genes, others are more rebellious and combative – all this always affects the relations of such people.
Some people are alone for decades and can’t find a partner. What would you advise someone in such a situation?
Looting: Such people must do something for their self-confidence and understand that ancient beliefs are very arbitrary and say nothing about one’s worth, but about how one was created and formed in the past. Then they have to look at their resources and discover: Where are my strengths? What am I good at? You have to do a lot to build yourself up and then date, date, and date again. Because the probability of finding a partner simply increases the more contacts I have.
In the beginning there is always the mental health of the individual: Where do I face problems? What should I possibly be doing to myself to be able to relate? Then it is a question of possibility. I always say: sign up for a dating site until you find the right person. Many throw in the towel too soon.
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