We all desire personal relationships; those in which there is mutual enjoyment of each other and a place where both parties can ‘be themselves’ in the moment.
However, most of us do not live in the moment, but rather, in yonder and in pursuit of the next or near future happening. This (usually) unconscious wandering often happens when we encounter a potential romantic ‘Other.’
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 appetite is decreased.
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 not only illusionary, it reveals that we may only feel alive and complete when in an intimate relationship. Where did we (our brains) learn such magical thinking?
During childhood, we experienced an idyllic, albeit short-lived, all-oneness with our mothers in which separation from evoked great suffering. We also experienced additional wounding as we learned to appease others, likely due to fitting into our family of origin. As adults, we yearn for the healing of these wounds.
The possibility of completeness arises in romantic love. However, 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.
Further, when we encounter Other, there lies an underlying archetypal sexual force at play. We often are caught up in this energy, falling into set cultural and archetypal roles of how men and women should be in relationships. We may become Fixers and Princes (“I will save you!”), and Mothers and Fathers (“Let me take care of you.”).
Note without judgement that some couples exist quite contently in these ‘normal’ relationship styles. However, difficulties arise when these ways are expected by one person and yet are not desired by Other.
When we take on these expected relationship roles, we follow the collective way of ‘doing’ relationships; no longer seeing ourselves or Other as individuals. We lose the opportunity to create a particular relationship rather than defaulting to the standard or ‘one-size fits all’ type.
Being caught in the standard way creates expectations of self and Other. We force things, try to make things happen; often wanting more from Other versus letting things develop on their own. We want to accept what is given, savour Other and the time together instead of pushing for more or perhaps for something else.