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Margaret Paul, PhD, is a writer and cocreator of Inner Bonding. She holds a doctorate in psychology and is a relationship expert, noted public speaker, workshop leader, educator, chaplain, consultant, and artist. Dr. Paul has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including the Oprah Winfrey Show.
1440: Why is it that so many relationships don't work out?
Margaret Paul: Mostly it's because both people are trying to get love from the other person because they don't know how to give it to themselves. When people abandon themselves and do all sorts of things to try and have control over getting the other person's love, they become needy and manipulative.
Usually both partners are trying to control each other into getting what they want, and they're not taking responsibility for themselves and for their own feelings.
1440: So it's a myth that we can expect our partner to make us whole?
Margaret Paul: It's not your job to make each other feel whole and happy. It's each person's job to do that for themselves. When you don't know how to do that for yourself, it creates problems in the relationship.
1440: Why are we so often attracted to the "wrong" person?
Margaret Paul: People are attracted to each other at their common level of self-abandonment or their common level of self-love. If you're abandoning yourself, you're going to attract somebody who is abandoning themselves, whether it's obvious how they're doing that or not.
If you've learned to really see and value and love yourself, you're going to be attracted to somebody who's also doing that.
These two people will create a much more loving relationship.
1440: Do you have an example you could share?
Margaret Paul: I worked with one young man for quite a while. He came from some abuse and neglect and was very self-critical and self-abandoning. He also had a lot of addictions. But he was willing to learn and he hung in there. He did his work and learned to take responsibility for his feelings. Before he learned that, he would attract needy, narcissistic women who wanted a caretaker. Of course it never worked out because they were both trying to get love from the other, where there was no love to give or receive.
After doing his Inner Bonding work, he started meeting some women who were not quite like that. And then finally last year he met a wonderful, fantastic woman. They fell in love, they got married, and they're having a baby. They're doing so well because they're open.
They're open to learning and they're open to loving, and they take good enough care of themselves that they have love to share with each other.
1440: If one person in a bad relationship does the inner work, will the relationship survive?
Margaret Paul: Let's say someone came to me in a codependent relationship. They've been together for 10 years and he earns the money and she takes in that area, but then he demands sex and he takes in that area. When one of them starts to deal with themselves, two things can happen. Either the other person likes it and the relationship actually gets better, or the other person doesn't like it and the relationship gets worse, in which case they know it's time to move on.
But they don't really know that until they deal with their end of the system.
If they don't deal with their end of the system, and they just blame the other person and leave, they're going to take their same self-abandoning ways with them into the next relationship and create a very similar relationship.
Unfortunately, past statistics have shown that in the United States, 50% of first marriages, 67% of second, and 73% of third marriages end in divorce, although recent research stated that the divorce rate is going down, which is good news.
1440: Being single can often feel like second-class status and that being in a relationship is the end game. If we're able to give ourselves the love and happiness we're looking for, how does that change our experience of being single?
If you're loving yourself, tending to your inner child, and manifesting your gifts in the world, then you're going to be happy whether you're in a relationship or not.
Feeling desperate to find a partner will no longer be an issue. One of my clients recently had an experience of being very connected with herself—very connected with her higher guidance and in a state of joy and power. It was incredible to see her in that state. She had been feeling rather desperate about ending up alone because she's in the midst of a divorce. I asked her, "So when you feel this way, do you feel that desperation to be in a relationship?" She said, "Oh, no. If I'm ever in a relationship again, that'll just be gravy!"