Dealing with Mixed Feelings in a Relationship
Is it normal to have mixed feelings in a relationship? There are people whom we really love - friends and relatives with whom we constantly communicate and experience strong affection. There are people whom we openly despise - those whom we simply cannot stand. There is a category of people that is in between. They can be called "bosom enemies," although the "enemy" in this phrase may seem too strong a description. Sociologists have a more appropriate term for such connections: "ambivalent relationships."
What do mixed feelings mean in a relationship?
In any relationship, there are both positive and negative sides. In a good, supportive relationship, the positives far outweigh the negatives. In a bad, disgusting relationship, the negative far outweighs the positive. In an ambivalent relationship, neither positive nor negative prevails. Your feelings for this person are clearly mixed. Sometimes this person encourages and sometimes criticizes. Sometimes it's fun to be with him, and sometimes it's boring. Sometimes they help you, and sometimes they don't. Sometimes you really like them and cherish them, and sometimes they get you to death.
What do mixed emotions mean in a relationship? We may have ambivalent relationships with work colleagues, friends, family, and even spouses. And while we don't tend to think about our ambivalent relationships as often as those on the more polar ends of the attachment spectrum, they actually make up about half of our social connections.
Why feelings change in relationships?
Supportive relationships have been shown to reduce stress, increase resilience, and improve physical and mental health. Aversive relationships increase stress, reduce resilience, and damage physical and mental health.
You might think that having unsure feelings about a relationship won't have much of an impact on your life. But in fact, numerous studies have shown that their influence is significant and equally negative and that ambivalent relationships are not only less effective in helping people cope with stress but can themselves be a source of stress.
When communicating with a person with whom you have relationship confusion, blood pressure rises more than when communicating with a person with whom you have a supportive relationship. Even the simple expectation of communicating with an ambivalent person causes a strong increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Researchers suggest that this heightened stress response is due to the unpredictability of ambivalent relationships: Will you enjoy being with this person, or will you fight? Will you have fun or just feel annoyed? Will they support you or criticize you?
How to deal with mixed feelings in a relationship?
If such relationships are potentially harmful, why do people support them? People give different answers, citing reasons such as external obstacles, such as attachment or a sense of duty; most often, they said that they held on to ambivalent relationships because of the positive aspects that they perceived in these relationships.
You may be maintaining your mixed-feelings relationship for the same reason. But once you know what the research says about these connections, you may want to reevaluate that assessment by considering whether certain relationships are truly a blessing in your life and, if they are not, how to mitigate their potentially negative effects.
What to do when you're not sure about a relationship?
When it comes to how to do this, actions take three main forms: eliminating the relationship, rethinking the relationship, or recalibrating the balance of positive and negative elements in the relationship. Which of these three paths you should take depends on which category the particular relationship falls into.
The first category of ambivalent relationships includes people who are generally indifferent to you. You don't have common origins like a long history or family ties. These people annoy and upset you, and although there are some good things in this relationship, the thought of losing that good one makes you just shrug your shoulders. The people with whom fate accidentally brought you - roommates, work colleagues, comrades in various organizations in which you are a member - are likely to fall into this category. Removing such people from your social circle is your best strategy, and you need to act without guilt, as this will benefit your life with minimal loss. Consider working more out of the office, consider telecommuting options, ask to be assigned to another position in the church organization, and find a new roommate when the lease expires. Of course, you can't always get out of these situations easily, but it's more possible than you think. And if you can't get away from the ambivalent person completely, you can at least look for ways to increase the distance between you.
The next category, when your unsure in a relationship, includes people with whom you have a past - family members or friends with whom you have been friends for many years - and who, in your opinion, have some positive aspect that you would like to keep. However, when you really think about it, you realize that your backstory with this person is positive, and the relationship itself does not bring anything good to your life. There are no easy answers here. If there is one universal piece of advice, it is that each person can probably increase the distance a little. You can contact a little less. You can say "no" a little more often. If you find it difficult to do this without guilt, keep these things in mind:
Just because you share a past with someone doesn't necessarily mean you should share a future.
While you feel that you may "owe" people, the amount of that debt and the timing of its "payment" timing is inherently subjective and unclear.
Commitment language is often used in the absence of investment, i.e., someone makes no effort to be the kind of person you willingly want to be in a relationship with, and so they resort to debt appeal to keep you tethered and create a relationship with mixed feelings.
The third category of ambivalent relationships includes people with whom we really feel a sincere connection and who offer a real, perhaps even irreplaceable, aspect of positivity, even if they sometimes drive us crazy. These people might be worth holding on to, but not in the context of your current default relationship.
This is where you can work to alleviate some of the frustrations and stress such relationships can cause by changing your expectations of them.
Often we want every friend to be our ideal — someone with whom we communicate at almost all levels. Such friends are certainly one of life's greatest treasures but are more of a rarity than the norm. Most people have places where they agree and topics where they disagree. The trick is not to expect people to suit you in all situations but to enjoy the relationship with them for their special "flavor." You won't call a carpenter to clean your sink, and you shouldn't call your cheerful but not too sympathetic friend to discuss some bad luck with him. Enjoy people in situations where they shine and avoid interacting with them in situations where they disappoint. Don't expect your crazy friend to show up at the hospital, but appreciate how fun he is at parties.
You can start with friendship on the GoDateNow website, and who knows, maybe this is where you will find a friend who will later become your partner. In the Girls online gallery section, you can look for friends with whom you can have a good time or just chat. Learn more about love and how to find it at Our Dating Blog.