Psychology

A Guide to Love Relationships

EMOTIONS IN THE FIRST PLACE (Will Love Survive the 21stCentury?, Dr Gordana Nikic)

What does healthy partnership love look like, and what about a healthy relationship with oneself? How do we express feelings through sex? How do we train our emotional muscles? Dr Gordana Nikic gives answers to these and other interesting and important questions about love in her book – a guide to love relationships –Will Love Survive the 21stCentury? She is a faculty professor and a true ‘doctor for emotions.’ She received her PhD and MA studying the most subtle emotions, and in the course of her education and professional work, growth and development, she completely dedicated herself to research of the phenomenon of love.

People have a lot of problems, from those at workplace to various anxieties waiting them at home. Dr Gordana Nikic, doctor of psychology and a psychotherapist, says that emotional problems are at the basis of everything and a starting point of anything leading to dissatisfaction.
Why raising the question of whether love will survive the 21st century?
-In the last decade, great changes happened in the area of partnership relations with such far reaching consequences that people are not even aware of. Some theories of love which have not existed before are in force, so now many people play games in relationships, not investing themselves. Many are seeking some form of freedom and openness for themselves and choose to constantly change partners, so today we differentiate between ‘relationships’ and ‘flings’ which involve sexual component of love.
Why is it hard for some people to emotionally invest, and easier to get into superficial relations?
– They do not want to form attachments, but my opinion is that it nevertheless does not correspond to human nature. Those who were straight from birth raised in the pattern of safe emotional attachment with their mothers will not have such problems. They will develop among emotionally insecure people, and emotions develop in human beings before their speech develops. Through emotions received from its mother, a child gains trust in the world, knowing that it is a friendly place worthy of their attention. If a mother is caring and sensitive, a child will grow up with a feeling of being worthy of love and will develop greater self-respect.

EMOTIONAL DEPRIVATION

Why do we need to spend as much time as possible with our baby in its first year of life?
– Bodily contact with baby also strengthens its intelligence. Mothers who do not respond emotionally to their child’s needs cause the child to get used to being alone in everything and to only rely on oneself. Already at the age of one or two, it is easy to recognise these children. In a situation when an unknown person comes into a room, emotionally attached children will throw themselves into their mothers’ arms, just like when they return to the room. Emotionally rejecting child will not differentiate or react when a mother leaves or returns to the room since the child is used to that kind of emotional deprivation. There are parents who take pride in letting their child be alone everywhere, but it is very desirable for a child to cry when it starts kindergarten and not wanting to separate that easily, since this means that the child is well-attached to its parents. Over time, a child will certainly learn to accept all this.
What can people who grew up under such circumstances do for themselves when they grow up and take their life in their own hands?
– A fortunate circumstance is that everything concerning emotional mind and emotional part of the brain is subject to reconstruction. The first evidence of this is psychotherapist’s work, and if this were not so, our job would not have any effects. We should work on ourselves, observe our emotions, be ready to explore and identify the world around us, and then we have a chance at advancement. It is true that the models inherited from childhood give certain colours to our life and leave trace on our choice of partners, friends, and our relationship with ourselves, but it is a good thing that we can perfect and change ourselves during our entire life.
What is sexual intelligence?
-Research has shown that there are people who are sexually more intelligent than others. They have less problems in that area and cope better. They stand out in relation to three components, one of which is knowledge about sexuality. How can we know if we are sexually intelligent? The extent to which we are aware of our authentic conscious sexual self is important. It is considered that sexuality develops from an early age and that it is as distinctive as a fingerprint. When we recognise this inner landscape, we will also know who we are. Partnership is important in the period of adolescence, and the best way to get to know oneself is to be in a relationship. My opinion is that people truly enjoy sex in mature age. Women completely get to know themselves in their thirties. People who are free in their communication and not ashamed have a chance at a satisfying sexual life. These are very important things.
Is it more important, more beautiful and healthier to love or be loved?
– It is very important to give in love since when we give, we at the same time reward ourselves. I have heard various women’s stories of their willingness, stemming out of their own insecurity, to do some things in love which now make them laugh at themselves. For example, one of them was sitting in front of the balcony of her ex-boyfriend for seven days – out of jealousy, not love. I always advise them not to consent to any games in relationships if they do not like them, and to be open always. Love is important, but for adults, it is not something they cannot survive without. In childhood, it is important for a child to be loved. But, it is not so in the adult age. The reality of life should be accepted. If we have a potential to love, we will also love children, friends, we will take part in growth and lives of others. It is not terrible to be single in any part of one’s life.
Professionally accomplished and successful women with an outstanding income, their own flat and independence are often alone in every sense. Why?
– For them, everything is too complicated in love. Younger men often form attachments to them, but they do not want relationship. It’s a pity, since we are all predisposed to love. Someone gets marked by bad experiences and does not want to open oneself any longer, and a thought of relationship already makes them vulnerable. Such persons prefer to keep their distance and preserve themselves from all that.
Do they prefer their job to private life?
-For such a woman, her success is a priority, but good looks as well. This is a system of values which comes from the West where ‘the only important thing is me alone and what I can get from others’ which is in a way a position of egoism. When we are in love, we share everything and take part in each other’s growth and development. Until now, a better way of raising children has not been invented than the one within a family. We would not be what we are if someone had not invested in us, our parents above all.

EMOTIONAL MUSCLES

Being single, however, can sometimes be healing and desirable?
– There is a moment when one should be single, and that is a period after big disappointments and when we are not sure of what we want. Then, we do not need new relationship. When people are straight with themselves in terms of wants and likes in partnership relations, they easily get involved in a story and easily leave the ones not suitable for them.

What are some common mistakes which people make due to their great need to form attachments?
– Even out of fear, and in extreme conditions such as prisons, they form attachments to their enemy. Attachment, care and sexuality are three crucial components of maturity in a relationship. When we have a mature relationship, our partner is our source of security, as our parent once was, so we take care of each other. It feels nice, and in sexual aspect we always get what we need.
What does training emotional muscles imply?
– That one should be wise in certain situations and wait before reacting, possess self-awareness and self-control, which is also learned in childhood. It is very important to accept all emotions which we experience. Not a single emotion is wrong, and each has its reasons for being there.
To which extent people generally know themselves and their emotions?
-Today, people do not suffer due to the lack of comfort or food, and they can survive without anything, but they do suffer because of emotions and lack of love. People have progressed in all areas, but emotional. Some psychotherapists say that people are unhappier than ever, although they live better today. We need to become literate, to study and know why some things occur and deal with it. People do not want to suffer. It is important to understand that emotions are very slow, that nothing ever goes fast in that area, and that there is a good reason behind it. When we make a decision,it is just a decision and it needs time to be carried out.  In divorce, people undergo emotional process involving great emptiness and suffering like a hole that we are trying to substitute and help ourselves. When we leave a relationship, a process of suffering begins and we evoke memories; when we realise that it was the end, anger comes in, and then a moment of calmness. It is important to recognise that course, that emotions have their logic and that they are there to help us. It is not natural to just cut the relationship off.
How much do men and women know how to approach one another?
-Above all, we should always be ourselves and honest, stand up for ourselves and be assertive. These are all simple psychological laws. Non-verbal communication is important, and women have forgotten to approach men and give them praise, but are instead focused on their appearance and superficial things. It is important to a man to know whether she likes him and if she is interested in him. One should also be honest with oneself, see whether our criteria are too high, and if we are perhaps seeking something that does not exist, out of our own fears of again having to go through a relationship which is in itself a great uncertainty. But you cannot play safe in love. It is very important for partners to share common system of values. If this is not the case, suffering ensues. Needs for closeness also differ. While someone likes being alone occasionally, especially when in crisis, someone else in the same situation prefers to share this feeling with another. It is not easy to find a common solution, but it is not impossible either. It is important to achieve good contact and communication regarding the essential things.
What is your advice to people who prolong leaving relationships in which they are unhappy?
– If a relationship we are in is not good for us, we should renounce it regardless of the emotional suffering it may cause. It is hard for people to renounce emotional investments, and they often experience relationship as some form of life investment. They sometimes have an impression of investing much in their partner, and women of older generations were raised to work and live for others, and in the past. It is not easy to be single, but neither it is to make a new beginning after you turn 30. On a long-term scale, staying in a bad marriage can create dissatisfaction, emotional and health problems, therefore they have to find a middle-ground and realise when to leave such a relationship.
Is one of the greatest fears of an ambitious modern woman of how to balance job and motherhood (family) justified?
– There are young women with two or three children and an enviable career. While in fertile age, women are creative, have more energy, know their life priorities, and parenthood makes them stronger. It is not easy, but is a very enriching experience and an opportunity to develop as a personality. It’s a pity not to give birth in a biologically most charged period – in their twenties – even if it means realising in their thirties that he was not an adequate partner. It is not easy to go through various sacrifices. The experience is courageous, and my advice is to embark on it.

Photo: Jelena Vlatković

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