Why does our partner bug us after a while?
Why do we tend to become ‘like my mom’ or feel like the ‘parent’ or ‘child’ in the relationship?
When we are in that ‘falling in love stage,’ a part of us leaps into ‘the wild blue yonder’ – somewhere far away and exciting; a place largely based upon unknowns and wishful thinking. Biologically, the excitement is attributed to increased levels of certain neurotransmitters (specifically dopamine) which act like adrenalin. Our heart races, we can’t sleep, and our appetite wanes. We may even become a bit obsessed.
On a psychological level, projections are made. “Great! I’ve meet someone I can golf (or other activity) with.” Or, “Now I’ll be able to … “ Our activated flight-or-fight system overrides the logical thinking part of our brains. We are whisked away to the land of romance.
However, this rapid change in perception is illusionary. Where did we learn such magical thinking?
During childhood, we experienced an idyllic, albeit short-lived, all-oneness with our parents in which separation from evoked great suffering. We also experienced additional wounding as we learned to appease others – what was ‘the deal’ we had to do to survive or fit into our family? We also were modelled gender roles and learned how couples related.
As adults, we yearn for the healing of these wounds; and yet, for many, we continue these ‘deals’ and roles within our adult relationships, especially intimate ones. In order to receive acceptance we (regressively) alter ourselves to be more appealing to Other and to avoid Other’s disapproval, much like we did as children.
We may become Fixers and Princes (“I will save you!”), and Mothers and Fathers (“Let me take care of you.”), just as we did as children in our family of origins. Unconsciously, we may be thinking, “This time I’ll get it [my needs met and be approved] right!” This is a huge expectation from the Other, and, in time, we will be disappointed, even resentful, in the Other.
Further, the traits that we once were drawn to (e.g., spontaneity, planner, taking care of us, etc.) will often start to annoy us. These shadow elements are often desirable to be vicariously around, yet, become too close for comfort after the honeymoon period in relationships.
To enter consciously into relationships, we need to be aware of the ‘deal’ that we are asking for and accepting. What roles are we playing or being asked to play? What are we expecting from Other that we are not willing to do for ourselves? Are we able to see and accept the Other as who they truly are?