In our lives we develop patterns of relating to others on which we rely. Regardless of the quality, tension or happiness level, we create predictable ways of interacting with another person.
In our personal relationships, often people feel a continuum, of whom we consider trustworthy and those on whom we would be more cautious with our openness.
In our work and professional relationships, we may have a high level of confidence in specific work areas and have no familiarity or interest in developing rapport on talking about the way we get along with our partner or potential partner, how we parent our children, or get along with siblings.
Regardless of how clearly defined our relationship categories are, how reliable these are, or how much we appreciate or not appreciate these, time inevitably will bring some change which requires significant adjustment to what were routine expectations.
Whether this is the surprise of waking up to what we may never have noticed, or an event intruding upon what may have felt as a content condition, very often the initial awareness of change, feels destabilizing and frightening.
Sometimes people make excuses for change they'd rather not face. We distract ourselves instead of looking at what is changing and re-positioning ourselves.
When our partner,friend, sibling, adult child, suddenly seems to not do their usual share in the relationship, we bargain our way out of paying attention to this. "She's busy, I'll take care of it", "he's had a rough day, I won't expect anything right now".
Eventually one person in the relationship feels swollen with frustration or pain from the persistent change in attitude and behavior of what was customary to expect from the other.
At this point, the system of the two people, collapses and change is forced. "You can't push a rope", is a great saying to describe that if one person shifts, the other in some way, necessarily accomodates.
Fear, pain and a feeling of loss are natural reactions to knowing a system we felt content with, has collapsed.
What we can improve in ourselves is recognizing our own strength in responding. Effective change is based on depth and creativity. Evaluating our needs once met, knowing what we'd like from a relationship in the future, trying to express ourselves this way, all are creative processes which give us more access to ourselves.
It is our own faith in our ability to meet change, trust that our efforts will eventually be met with a good outcome, that is our challenge and its own reward, when the next time comes of facing a valued relationship which requires you to change.