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Relationships, Romance and Reality:

Rossetti, Dante Gabriel
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Inability to Connect May Be Related to Pain From the Past

By Malcolm Leal, PsyD.

“…I have been in this current relationship for three months but I think it is already running out of steam. I don’t know why I can not connect and all my relationships end after a few months…”


Dating has become sort of a past time for some people.  A sporting event requiring skills and strategy. Of greater concern however, is the fact that many people immerse themselves into a relationship without a plan or even clear expectations. Relationships have become synonym of entertainment and stimulation. Usually lumped in the same category with movies and Nintendo, with no other end or intent.

Some of my colleagues argue that .we are in the presence of a generation of chronically disappointed people. The daycare generation, generation X, or whatever other acronym is used to describe this age group of 20-35 years of age men and women who seem to find no satisfaction in dating no matter with whom. How did they become so numb and disconnected from their own humanity? The jury is still out on that one. The answer may be so complex that we may never know with some degree of certainty.  What is evident is that emotional neglect, abandonment and a consistent lack of nurturing early on in life can influence your ability to care and connect with others. From a developmental standpoint, we must learn valuable lessons about needs, healthy dependency, attachment, and love in order to evolve into emotionally healthy adults.

It is at this early age when we begin to pick up queues about love and relationships. If love was conditional, subject to certain terms, withheld or denied, you may have developed an attitude and a belief system that places very little value in dating and relationships. If your experience with significant people in your life was traumatic and very painful, you may have a tendency to avoid involvement and attachment because of the fear and uncertainty suffered. Driven by these fears, you may be initiating relationships with people who are of no real interest to you. This is done in an attempt to control your own emotional involvement, being able to withdraw if necessary with little to lose. Of course, all these relationships are going to be dull and lacking any real meaning. You may not like them but those are the ones that suit your emotional needs, for now.

Regardless of your history, you must strive to heal and rid yourself of behaviors that may be defensive but unhealthy. It may be productive for you to remain single until you are able to discard those painful messages from your past. You must start by learning to care for your self so you can care for others without fear and with all intent. Some professional intervention is recommended since you have tried on your own and have not been successful so far.

Remember that history is not destiny, and no matter how painful and difficult your life may have been, you are not bound to be a slave of your past. In order to truly love, you must be willing to suffer loss and disappointment. Set goals and communicate expectations, express your needs and envision the kind of relationship you want. After all, dating can be the prelude of the most important decision you will make in your life. Put some thought, and your heart into it.