Recently on Facebook (where lately I’m spending way, way too much time) I came across this poster:
The picture of Buddha caught my attention, but what held it was the text, with which I found myself disagreeing.
So I wrote back,
The poster’s author replied,
And I replied to her reply as follows:
I don’t usually argue with Buddhists on Facebook. I did this time because I think what I called the perennial problem is worth paying attention to.
We humans are caught between a rock and a hard place. The rock is our need for each other, and the hard place is the difficulty of getting along.
Relationships are inherently difficult because they demand we do two things simultaneously that just don’t go together: attach to each other, and stay free.
How the hell do I manage that?
That’s the question behind the most common problems clients bring to therapy — anxiety, depression, addiction, loneliness, feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem.
Most of them are struggling, in some way and at some level, with getting their needs met in relationships without getting lost.
And many of them misunderstand the problem.
They think their relationship problems are their fault.
Women are especially prone to taking blame when a relationship fails. “How did I screw that one up?” they often ask me. Men, by contrast, are more often to say something like, “Boy, was that bitch crazy.”
(Yes, I’m overgeneralizing. I know guilty men and blaming women too. But in my experience the reverse is true more often than not.)
So the inherent difficulty of relationship is worth noting if only to reduce the number of times we blame others or ourselves.
The fact is, most relationships fail not because we’re lousy at them, but because relationship itself is hard.
So if you’re struggling with yours, please remember that.
Remember that most of us don’t set out to hurt or frustrate or disappoint each other.
We just do the best we can — often, without terribly healthy models — to solve a problem that’s difficult at best, and sometimes damned near unsolvable.