When your relationship development is an ‘emotional rollercoaster’,
When your relationship development is an ‘emotional rollercoaster’, it tends to have lots of highs and lows – often in rapid succession.One day you’re arguing intensely, the next you’re feeling really happy and close.
You may find it hard to predict what things are going to be like on any given day, or when they might swing from one state to another. People sometimes describe relationship development like this as being full of ‘drama’ or characterised by lots of ‘passion’.
How does this kind of relationship development?
The most common reason for this kind of relationship developing is one or both partners finding it difficult to manage their emotions and how they express them to their partner.
They may be comfortable saying what’s going on ‘when they’re feeling the emotion’, but feel they have very little control over the way in which they do this. They may get easily upset, or veer rapidly between different emotional states.
The reasons behind this can be complex, but sometimes have their roots in how the person learned to relate to other people when growing up.
They may, for instance, have had an unstable relationship with their parents, and as a result, find themselves attempting to recreate this environment as an adult because it’s what they’re most used to. Although it sounds counter-intuitive, familiarity is a significant principle when it comes to emotional relationships – even in situations where the familiarity isn’t necessarily productive or easy to bear.
In fact, research has shown that often, we are attracted to what is familiar to us and being exposed to certain types of people can even increase our attraction to them – this is essentially subconscious and as such, we’re unlikely to be aware of this pattern.
If you are on an emotional rollercoaster, how will it affect you?
It requires significant levels of energy to maintain this type of relationship. To the extent where it can be difficult to concentrate on other areas of your life properly. Dealing with negative emotions is challenging and switching between highs and lows in rapid succession can be exhausting. This relationship developmentcan produce a sense of uncertainty derived from not knowing where you stand on any given day. People in this kind of relationship often describe themselves as ‘consumed’ by it – saying that it becomes the centre of their life.
Sometimes, one of the most problematic characteristics of rollercoaster relationships is that they can be habitual. While they are extremely tiring and sometimes even traumatic, they can also be highly exciting, fun and engaging. The word ‘passion’ tends to crop up a lot when we (Relate counsellors) work with couples in this kind of relationship. Although partners may feel there are many positives in their relationship, the sense of constant drama can also feel overwhelming and confusing.
How to deal with an emotional rollercoaster relationship development
The ideal outcome for someone in a relationship of this type is for them to retain a lot of the ‘passion’ while finding a way to regulate the highs and the lows that are characteristic of this relationship dynamic.
Better understanding is usually the first step towards meaningful change. Finding out how you fit together emotionally, what your respective needs are, and what changes you would like to make are key to ensuring that each partner can be heard within the relationship. This often means asking yourself and each other some really honest and occasionally challenging questions. Listening to each other, perhaps with the help of a counselor, can often mean that each partner gets a fuller understanding of how their specific patterns of communication (often learned in childhood) may be affecting their partner.
By becoming more aware of these relationships patterns, you can understand how the attraction between you really works. Developing more awareness about things like this will in turn, help to develop new patterns that are helpful to both partners.
Like every relationship, making changes takes effort and dedication to keep these changes alive and well.