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Find Mr. Right or Ms. Right — 21 Comments

  1. Two quick thoughts.
    As you may have noticed I don't enter into a lengthy “dialogue” with anyone on this website. Tis just a boundary for me. I need more immediate contact with people to make if fun and rewarding for me. I do have several phone chat “friends” where we have met many times. Here's a link about that chatting. I also do e-dialogue on http://www.marriageadvocates.com/ in a section I call my Whiteboard. (You happen to luck out in that I have some free time today.)
    Second, I think you are touching directly on the discoveries that Harville Hendrix published and that differentiates him from the usual patterns of Analysis. To him, and I've certainly come to think similarly, the role of the “adult/therapist” can be helpful, but real healing is more a matter to two people who self-select based on the often complementary nature of their dysfunctions/wounds, and who durably collaborate in provoking healing in each other.
    Since you've been in analysis, I'll share his description of a committed relationship as a double-double transference relationship. I see a therapeutic relationship (analysis, counselor, etc) as a single transference with some more complex components – which are often seen as “undesirable.” I think a major piece of Harville's genius was flowing in this area.

  2. I agree that healing happens within a relationship, but I don't think that extreme heartbreak or childhood trauma can be healed within a romantic and sexual relationship. It seems to me that a therapeutic or mentor/friend relationship is needed. I was at crisis point when my ex appeared, already in therapy, and well, as my therapist put it, about 4 years old, emotionally. My thoughts are that if some one is extremely childish or neotonous (is that the word?), then they need the presence of a loving adult, and certainly a non sexual situation, just as a 4 year old doesn't need sex. That makes sense to me.
    My therapist also told me he thought my ex invaded me when she pushed for a sexual relationship when I was so emotionally raw. I agree with that. I tried to stop the relationship after just 5 weeks as sex was excruciating. Not during, but after, i would curl into a foetal position. I allowed her to manipulate me into continuing. I wasn't strong enough to set my boundary as I needed it.
    It also seems to me that people are attracted to others who share the same type of dysfunction and roughly the same level of emotional maturity. If that is true, that it's unlikely surely that a much more mature person would want to engage in sexual relations with someone who was an emotional teenager/ infant. Am I right in thinking this?
    My therapist ascertained that we cannot live with another until we have learnt to live with ourselves. It also seems that we learn to have a healthy relationship with ourselves through engaging in a healthy and non sexual relationship with our parents, mentor, pastor or therapist.
    Do you believe that any emotional trauma or dysfunctional relating style can be healed in a romantic and sexual relationship? It strikes me as very hard to do, as the tendency to enmesh with the other, especially when sex is involved (isn't sex a temporary enmeshment of sorts) is so high, and so tempting.
    I am very curious what your stance is on this. But, I understand if you don't have time to answer this. I must admit I would LOVE to engage in an on going dialogue about this stuff in the comments section here! 🙂
    Thanks again for your insights. I feel already that one more layer of the 'onion skin' has peeled back.
    Warm regards

  3. A couple of comments.
    “What was she trying to save me from? I was broken hearted when we reconnected. (she was an old friend/acquaintance for many years before we were romantic). She wanted to heal me with sex and love. I have learnt that another cannot try to heal one's broken heart. It is self work, not relationship work.”
    I think you ran directly into the mine-field that many couples do and that counselors and therapists should know about. A relationship is a kind of therapeutic situation where either one or both are wanting the “other” to be their therapist. And maybe one will try, from time to time. Neither are trained and so will fall on their faces when it comes to the tricky stuff. Not from lack of “trying”. Theoretically with a good therapist, you don't have to worry about being “invaded,” a profoundly awful situation.
    Well, she tried and so did you and hopefully you've both learned a bunch.
    “I have learnt that another cannot try to heal one's broken heart. It is self work, not relationship work.”
    To be a bit picky, I think healing almost everything, especially self-esteem and broken-heart issues, is a kind of relationship work – or more accurately self-work in the presence of “the other”. May seem picky, but I think trying to do it alone is a problem too.
    “Blaming” and most “anger” I think is just foolishness on the way to learning how to be respectful. I've written a lot about this. Take a look at my papers starting with Master-Slave.
    Congratulations on being a student. My own background was full of classrooms: high school, a bout in college, a wonderful time in the US Navy, more college, private classes and therapy, and finally the really big course with my wife. I've made it to 70. You, take your time. Learn all you can.

  4. Thank you so much for your kind reply. I wept a little reading your post, and in truth, your kind words, not only for me, but for my ex, reminded me of my love for her.
    To answer your question. What was she trying to save me from? I was broken hearted when we reconnected. (she was an old friend/acquaintance for many years before we were romantic). She wanted to heal me with sex and love. I have learnt that another cannot try to heal one's broken heart. It is self work, not relationship work. She 'invaded' me of sorts, at least that is how I experienced her and my analyst explainer her.
    I have been thinking about how to 'listen' to someone when they are being unreasonable. She screamed at me, because she was trying to blame me for her clinginess I didn't want to be made responsible for her issues, which she was clearly trying to do, but if I'm honest, I was doing the same, blaming my leaving on her clinging. I see that I can learn to sit with someones rage, anger, frustration and learn to listen without compromising my boundaries or safety.
    I have decided this morning to start to actively let her go, perhaps to practise a small ritual of 'letting go with love', to free myself.
    I wish to forgive myself for my failures, and learn to validate. I'm going to start practising with my friends around me.
    On a side note, I went out for dinner last night with a new group of people, and I didn't drink. I've been sober for 3 weeks, self motivated, and It felt great to remember how fine I am socially without alcohol. I was charming and attentive, and had a great conversation with someone new, who said 'it looks like we were supposed to sit together' when I gave her the title of a great book she will find useful.
    Finally, yes, I was made to feel utterly worthless as a child, and I have believed that lie for a long time. It is simply not true.
    Even my ex, despite her rage at my abandoning her told me in one of our last conversations. 'Your a good man, you did your best, it just wasn't good enough'. (She was a master at the double edged compliment! 🙂
    Thank you again, and for your great website.
    I hope I can find the money to call you for a chat some day. Student life is tough financially you know!
    Warmest regards.

  5. Gee! Where to start? Let's go at it in pieces.
    Imago part: “but I can't see how it resolves itself to a loving relationship.” I’ve been living with this Imago concept for about 20 years. I doubted it, fought it, and finally reconciled to it. I see it as a thorough concept that helps people understand why they repeatedly pick certain kinds of relationship. I don’t think it “resolves into a loving relationship.” I see it as the reverse. If you want a loving relationship you’ll have to resolve the issues that you two have, and a way to grasp the details of those issues is to look at the blend of your Imago and your partner’s.
    Let’s pull a thread out here. You have troubles with Clinger and Avoider issues, I gather. And you’ve seen both a) how you pick partners with whom that issue becomes a barrier/problem and b) where in your history this kind of problem would find its source. Sounds as if you are still working on the adult resolution to Clinger/Avoider – what I call Reliable Membership. Not there yet.
    This sentence of yours is common to people who are facing the “puzzle” of Imago. “I am now hung up on this girl, who i left as I had no space in my heart to love her….I can't be with another. “ The song, “I can’t get you out of my mind….” The common behavior is that people stay together inspite of the problems. (I am thinking of people who live in a culture which is open to splitting up.)
    You wrote, “We recently had contact as she wrote to me. All the animosity from the break up is gone, and there is friendliness between us, but she is now taken. “ Sounds as if the animosity is not currently on the surface between you and that might be partially because she is, as you say, taken.
    This sentence was more interesting. “When we broke up, my ex accused me of making her clingy by always backing away. When I tried to point out …. simply screamed at me.” I love the screaming part. How can I help? Let’s see. People scream because they think no one will listen. That’s pretty straightforward. What training from childhood put you in the place of a “non-listener” and with a person who can “scream” about it? Sounds like more Imago stuff – hers and yours.
    I wonder, “She had been trying to 'save' me,” from what?
    I tip my hat to anyone who works this hard. Congratulations: “I spent 18 months in analysis,
    Oh. And here’s a good fear. “I fear that eventually I will meet another person like the others, but it will end as they all did, with either me clinging, or leaving them.” Who wants that? Well, the other question is why people do this again and again? And they do. Must be one or more great reasons. To me, Imago gave me a very full adequate understanding of this and what to do about. That’s what this whole website is about.
    Here’s my proactive question. If I am going to just go out and meet another avoider (clinger), maybe I had better become an expert of making adult peace with them. If I am going to just go out and meet a person who wants to be heard and yells, maybe I had better become and expert at “making people feel heard.”
    Well, good question. “ I can't see any way how my imago leads to love, as my mother invaded me and abandoned me, and my father simply beat me.” I am sorry for what happened to you as a kid. Shouldn’t happen to anyone. Happened to almost everyone. You wouldn’t want my childhood.
    Understanding the Imago leads to focusing on what you personally (and your partner personally) have to learn to get love. It’s kind of like a personalized college entrance exam. Let’s you know what courses to take.
    “I fear I will be alone my whole life.” Not sure but I think you speak for almost all humans here. Loneliness is a critical problem. Of course the worst loneliness of all is that felt in a relationship that has gone bad. Less bad to live alone, I gather. Check out the book “Going Solo” by Eric Klinenberg.
    You sound like a good guy, whose been told you are bad and “foolishly” believed/believes it. Keep going. I had to become expert at stuff my parents(teachers) never even knew existed.

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