If you are experiencing problems in your relationship take time to consider if you or your partner developed coping styles in the past that are impacting on the relationship now.
There are three common coping styles that regularly impact on relationships.
These are Surrender, Escape, and Counterattack.
There are different underlying reasons for developing the three styles however it is common to adopt one or a combination of them to try to cope with feelings of defectiveness, deprivation, exclusion or abuse. If we feel defective for example then this feeling may be expressed in many ways and could be based on old beliefs like ‘I’m not enough, I am worthless, I’m no good socially’, I’m bad,’
If we Surrender to inner beliefs like these then we will distort our view of situations to confirm the belief. When we surrender, we will continually misinterpret and misconstrue people and events that maintain our frame of reference.
Problem is surrender means we will still carry on the old destructive patterns from our childhood and early adult life. As an Adult it means we will behave in ways that ensure we will end up being criticized and demeaned or at least feel like we are. This may mean we may have chosen a partner who is willing to criticise us, or we misinterpret or exaggerate what they say or not listen to a partner that is supportive.
People who use Escape often don’t want to think or talk about things believing that will only make them feel bad or make the problem worse. To escape we avoid thinking about painful feelings from our past. Escapers tend to try and dampen down feelings and they can employ many varied tactics to do this. It might be drugs, drinking gambling porn overeating compulsively cleaning workaholic. There are many activities people use to avoid feelings. In our relationships we may wish to avoid intimacy not let anyone get too close or even have chosen a partner who is not good with intimacy. With Escape we walk around numb-unable to experience real pleasure or pain.
People who use counterattack like to feel one up. They like to be flattered rather than be challenged. They can treat partners dismissively and want to be recognised as the most important one. This style attempts to feel the opposite of how the person felt as a child and is ready to fight off attacks of anyone they consider will criticise and abuse them. Counterattacking people compensate for their feelings by acting as though they are special, superior, perfect, infallible.
Counterattacking prevents the development of real intimacy. We lose the ability to trust, become vulnerable, and connect at a deeper level. We can end up thinking that we prefer to lose a relationship and someone we love rather than risk becoming vulnerable. This style often hides that we are very fragile and can be easily deflated.
The above styles can be triggered whenever feelings of defectiveness deprivation exclusion or abuse return. The coping styles can be a major cause of relationship difficulty. Therapy can help you discover your coping style/s and find healing for past hurts and new way of being in your relationship.