General relationship information: Society’s unrealistic relationship expectations.
Modern western society has exalted relationship expectation which unrealistically and impractically promotes the fantasy of ‘oneness’.
‘Oneness’, if likened to an analogy is the Yin Yang symbol. Where femininity (yin) and masculinity (yang), man and woman, are portrayed as two complementary yet opposing forces that make one another whole. The two shapes have a seed from the other within. They cannot exist without the other. When marrying, the very vows are with reference to two people becoming one. Infamous lines like, ‘I love you. You complete me” (Jerry Maguire, 1996), Mills and Boon novels, popular love songs and poetry, and 12,000 web sites titled ‘I am nothing without you’, are all representative of western society endorsing ‘oneness’. Often securing this unity is the driving force of human existence, and a unison that frequently does not transpire with ease or success.
In contrast to ‘oneness’, the widely read and popular book, ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’ (Gray, 1994), depicts men and women as coming from different planets. As if their gendered behaviours were innate. To me, the challenge lies in finding the balance where two individuals are able to experience mutual fulfillment and happiness, when living in a society that continues to support and promote traditional, sexist, and inequitable views.
Partially, unsuccessful coupling can be because culturally men and women are coached to express the experience of intimate relations in differing ways (Papp, 1998). Beck and Beck Gernsheim, view there to be a common thread between the desperate sought after state of love and passion, and the statistically high relationship failure rate. They believe it is because of “…the disappointments inherent in our idea of love just as much as the hopes we invest in it” (1995). It too is my belief that couples current ideals and expectations are interfering with possibilities to achieve connectedness and fulfillment.
The illusion of childhood love stories
As a child, we engage in a world of fantasy when reading about fairytale relationships i.e. Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, Rapunsel, Wicked stepsisters etc. As adults, I don’t think we ever stop believing in some of these illusions. So when we are older, slightly delusional and full of desire to play a leading role in a fairytale love story, we set off on a wild goose chase to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow; to locate the perfect heroine or hero and live happily ever after.
On account of this, how are individuals/couples expected to be differentiated when from as early as they can remember, emotional fusion has been encouraged?
Couples struggle to find the emotional balance between: the wish for intimacy: the need to be loved and cherished, and the fear of intimacy: exposure, abandonment, and engulfment.
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At Core Connections, an essential part of the therapist’s responsibility is to help clients unravel relationship misconceptions, build upon a couples connectedness, and uncover buried assumptions about their partner and the relationship.