Are happy relationships plausible?

How to have a happy relationship

After your book "That stays in the family", your new work "Make love - How relationships really work" was recently published. As a couples therapist, do you know how a partnership works?
Dr. Sandra Konrad: Actually most of them know how a partnership works, but we often do not act according to our knowledge, but according to our feelings. It is more about childlike, unsatisfied needs that the partner should meet. And while every partnership is unique, there are a few basic ingredients that we all need in relationships: First and foremost, the feeling of being seen, heard and loved.

What exactly are these "Myths of Love" that you write about?
In short: that there is unconditional, eternally passionate, perfect love. We dream of Mr. Right, who understands us without words, reads the wishes from the eyes and with whom there is no argument. But love - as sorry as I am - also includes lack. There are no "dream men" or "dream women", no guarantee of "forever" and no constant and eternal passion. Nothing is perfect, but that's what makes it exciting. This is the only way we can develop further!

To love - as sorry as I am - want also belongs. "

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In your book I stumbled across a sentence: "Love does not depend on fate, but largely 'self-made'". Sounds like all of us, whether single, girlfriend or wife, can control the affair of love. But it often doesn't feel like it.
Many problems arise because we unconsciously persist in childish expectations. The moment we stop blaming fate or our partner for our happiness or unhappiness, we ourselves take on the responsibility that it takes to control our whole life. We are not only victims of circumstances, but thinking, feeling and acting beings who can say "yes" as well as "no". If the partner really does everything wrong, why did we choose them and why do we stay with them? If single life is really that awful, what exactly am I doing to change that state of affairs? If I repeatedly fall in love with "the wrong people", what do these mistakes have to do with me? With all these questions we can understand ourselves better and take more and more steps towards self-efficacy.

You write that some women owe their single existence not to their high, but rather to false expectations. What do you mean by that?
Many single women (and also single men) lose themselves in unrealistic dreams of how the other should be. It is therefore advisable to check your expectations from time to time and to fulfill your own dreams instead of waiting for a dream prince.
You can also try to understand your part in being single: Am I afraid of getting involved in a (new) relationship and if so, why? Am I still so strongly bound to my parents that building my own family could lead to a conflict of loyalty? Have I not come to terms with an old relationship or am I afraid of being rejected and hurt and therefore avoid giving potential partners a chance? The better we understand ourselves, the easier it is for us in relationships.

How happy we become in love relationships depends primarily on our attachment style.

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If we love ourselves enough, everything will be fine. Is it really that simple?
No, because self-love is something that - if it does not exist or only exists to a limited extent - has to develop. The announcement: "Love yourself" is just as absurd as "Have a laugh" or "Be spontaneous". Self-love does not arise in empty space, but through relationships with other people.
How happy we become in love relationships depends above all on our attachment style, which develops in childhood and is estimated to be "insecure" in around 40 percent of people. People with an insecure attachment style either tend to avoid tight bonds or to cling to others. It takes a lot of good relationship experiences to make an insecure attachment style more secure. The bottom line: We need other people who support us in building trust in the world and ourselves.

What do you think of online dating platforms?
There is a beautiful saying in the healing professions: what helps, helps. It doesn't matter where people get to know each other, the main thing is that they get to know each other! However, I advise you not to dream too long in a virtual relationship, but rather to do a reality check soon.

Do we really have to say goodbye to looking for and finding Mr. Right?
Yes, absolutely, and for a good reason: There is no ONE Mr. Right. Fortunately, there are many potential partners who fit in with us. After the first fall in love, however, a phase of de-idealization inevitably follows and this is exactly where it gets exciting. Because then we decide whether we leave disappointed or whether we give the dream man the opportunity to become a real partner.

And what about the kinship of the soul? Does it exist or is there a partner who understands us blindly and always, simply not?
I am rather critical of the concept of kinship because it is one of the many excessive demands: My partner should always understand me and be one with me. But a couple relationship consists of both a WE and two I's. Too much symbiosis hinders development and autonomy and can stifle love. A relationship lives from the fact that two individuals have decided to put their lives together. That means, despite all the connectedness, also enduring differences, dealing with conflicts with one another and respecting and living out desires for both closeness and distance.

Finally, hand on heart: As an expert, do you adhere to all the rules, advice and this accumulated knowledge in your private relationships?
You will have guessed it: I am a person like everyone else. I love, I quarrel, I make up. However, I am very aware of the value of my relationships. I am grateful for the love that I have been able to experience in my life and I try to reflect on my part in the success, but also in conflicts. "Make love" is my most personal book so far, in which I also throw in a few anecdotes from my own relationship life to make it clear that we all fall for the most stupid myths here and there. It is important to recognize them and to take responsibility for your own love life again and again.

Dr. Sandra Konrad is a qualified psychologist and has been working as a systemic individual, couple and family therapist in her own practice in Hamburg since 2001. In her work she finds time and again that most problems in love are due to our false expectations.
In 2013 Piper Verlag published Ā»That stays in the family - Of love, loyalty and ancient burdensĀ«. In her current book "Make Love - How Relationships Really Success", she describes empathetically and vividly how the most common problems arise in relationships and what each individual can do to solve them. Sandra Konrad is married and lives in Hamburg. More information about Dr. You can find Konrad here.


For more tips on how to have a fulfilling partnership, see our story, Principles of a Happy Relationship.

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