You’re having a deeply heartfelt conversation with your guy, when he suddenly says something mind blowing.

“I love you, but I don’t know if I ever want to settle down.”

Or something else equally boneheaded. How are you supposed to take that?

How does this man, whom you love, have the ability to hurt you so tremendously?

One word, vulnerability.

We open our hearts to each other, sharing intimate moments and secret conversations, and in doing so, we expose our deepest desires and our deepest fears.

Romantic relationships have the unique ability, due to their unrivaled intimacy, to heal wounds so deep, that you may not even be aware of them.

Even in the best of childhoods, we often experience a feeling of disappointment growing up, that defines how we will interact with others later. Perhaps Dad was traveling so much for work, that it seemed like he hardly noticed you when he came home. Perhaps Mom never gave you a moment to yourself, that you felt like you had no space of your own.

You develop into a person who becomes either quickly attached to others, or you become fiercely independent. This compensating personality characteristic goes unchecked for years, until you meet this wonderful man and you have an undeniable connection.

Strangely, as your relationship unfolds, you find that he is the exact, energetic opposite. If he was the one with overbearing parents or felt criticized all the time, you were likely the one feeling ignored, abandoned, or left out in childhood.

There’s a reason for this – it’s believed that we subconsciously attract the very person who may be able to repair our past emotional pain. And, this dualistic match in each other feels terribly uncomfortable, because it exposes those deeply held frustrations in both of you.

You may not know why he demands such privacy. You may interpret it as secrecy or withholding intimacy. He may not understand your clinginess. He doesn’t see that you long for that feeling of security.

Through our romantic relationships, we can re-stage our past development through each other and resolve our insecurities.

We do this by diving into our own backgrounds and understanding how our relationships with our caregivers laid the foundation to our later relationships. Then, we can share notes with each other to learn how we may be triggering each other. Only then, can we better reach each other through empathy.

You may find through this journey that he becomes less boneheaded, after all.