Never alone together (1995)
Jacques Salomé (psychosociologist) – Picture: Juan Les pins 2013 –
How to live 2 of us together while remaining different
What do we ask the most: to be loved? No, to be chosen! We ask the other to prove that he will be serving our deepest wound.
It’s not the feelings, whatever deep and real they can be, nor the love, as alive as it is, that keeps two people together in a couple over time. It is the quality of the relationship that they will be able to offer to each other or not.
It is the small pleasures of everyday life that are the most necessary to be welcomed … to amplify further, in everyone’s life.
- Pass the meeting (love or passion, where often 1 + 1 = 1) to the relationship
- Build and live a relationship: 1 + 1 = 2
- Cohesion and bursting processes
- 1 + 1 = 3
Before the meeting, the search:
- active: with seduction strategies (oriented behavior and investment). « You can rely on me! «
- passive: consisting of expectations, or implicit requirements (the major form being the Sleeping Beauty syndrome: the magic hope of the arrival of Prince Charming or the delightful Princess who can fill it). » I rely on you «
In the conscious or unconscious search for a complementary person in the semblance or the difference.
The forces at play are attraction, feelings, fears, unconscious choices.
Beware of the myth: « If she (he) really loved me, she (he) would guess my desires without I express them. She (he) would anticipate my expectations. »
To build the relationship:
Construction will go through a succession of crises, conflicts, trial and error and mediations. To live together is to define a common project (not common from the start!), To define together and to evolve through exchanges where will be put together … differences.
It will be through the ability to engage yourself and to connect yourself with the other. Do not confuse attachment (built with time) and love.
In a couple, learning to communicate in the present moment is above all learning to differentiate yourself better. Living in a relationship will take the risk of communicating but also of being able to commit yourself.
Harmony is not to do everything together, but to share together a maximum daring to live sometimes for oneself … outside the immediate proximity of the other.
To go from the fusion (1 + 1 = 1) to the alliance supposes to accept to give a value to the relation. We are still 3 living at 2: you, me and the relationship: 1 + 1 = 3. You, at your end … and me, at mine.
I propose most often to symbolize the relationship by a scarf having 2 endpoints. It is up to everyone to focus primarily on 1 endpoint only: his endpoint. (note: Daniel Goleman’s elastic, or the 50/50 responsibility).
In many couples, there will be excessive dramatization. Everything seems to be problematized, in most acts of everyday life. This intense and sudden crystallization of defensive energies or affirmation opens a doubly conflictual phase (inter-conflict with the partner but also intra-conflict deep within oneself).
Discovering that a relationship is a living process, conceiving of it as a third person to respect, to nurture, to value, to stimulate, will be a major step on which will depend the becoming in love.
Active or underground resistances develop. Proportionally to the intensity of latent fears. They will give rise to sabotage, regressions or blockages whose main function will be to try to escape this structuring accountability but how much feared.
Yes, I am responsible. Of the part of what I send (including silence) to the other and what I receive from him.
Responsible, but not guilty or faulty! Responsible only for my endpoint of the relationship. To respect oneself and to respect the other person is not a game in intentionality, efforts, promises and excuses, but essentially in concrete practice, to be actualized on a daily basis.
Cohesive and bursting forces:
The more intimate communication is, the more non-verbal exchange is important.
« I do not expect adherence to what I express but only listening. And especially a recognition, ie a confirmation that what I live belongs to me.
Misunderstandings in sensual and sexual rapprochements originate from blockages and refusals and are not like many partners believe a failure or a change in feelings (the famous wear).
- Communicating means sharing. Which is different from wanting to agree, to agree, to convince or to avoid conflict.
The main complaint of women today is the frustrating silence and even the refusal to speak of some men (note, less and less the prerogative of men, and increasingly common among women: new generations! ).
This word seems impossible, blocked, forbidden in some men (partners) for all that touches the intimate of themselves, the felt, the lived and the emotions, is at the origin of the deficiency and of the most fundamental difficulty, it seems to me, of today’s couples.
The lack of verbal exchanges and sharing is an avitaminosis of the contemporary couple. « Why should it be men who constantly adapt to women’s languages? « … a relationship at 2 endpoints.
In the intimate experience, everyone’s needs, are played out at different levels. It will be a question of hearing them as such, in their complexity, whether they are ambivalent, contradictory or even paradoxical.
Sometimes failing to recognize this conflict inside me, I will project it on the other. Sometimes if I can not decide, the choice will be imposed on me from the outside.
- The paradoxes: when one of the two partners strives to ask the other what exactly he can not give. Sometimes when one begs explicitly and insistently, attentions, gratitude, complicity that he both dreads, refuses or fails to believe possible.
Faced with such a paradox, no answer can be truly satisfactory (nb: red tie, green tie). The paradox creates confusion in the other and generates self-sabotaging behavior. Relationship sabotage is sometimes a full-time activity for some partners.
An awakened couple will be a couple able to share and clarify together this dual dynamic « free-choice-pleasure » in one, « duty-obligation » and « pleasure that escapes » in the other.
Baby Bottle Relationship: boys and girls were not fed the same baby bottle relationship. The mother will say to the boy, « I want you to change your pants, to dress yourself differently … » = a willing, a disguised requirement. At her daughter, the mother will say « I would like you to dress differently, I do not like when you do this way, .. » The mother will put feelings in the girls (I like, I do not like). The father logically lodges willings in the form of more implicit, more silent demands. The future woman is built too often on this kind of emotional scam « I am loved when I’m happy, when I do not hurt, .. »
This gap, if not aware, if not named, will also cause a multitude of frustrations and tensions.
As for the bursting forces, while promoting the autonomy of each, they contribute to keeping the couple alive.
Locking up in implicit systems, in reference to feelings of justice or injustice, … (note: see the 5 wounds).
It will sometimes be necessary to accept at this stage a sexual harmony rather unsatisfactory or defective. When it is relative in time, it remains bearable.
The one who says and claims « but I do not need the bathroom to be clean, I do not have the anguish of a bed not made », that one, without knowing it clearly, pose and imposes requirements … those of his laxity.
The key word of this relationalship phase will be that of the accountability of one’s acts (or non-acts). I no longer make the other responsible for what happens to me. I feel and position myself as fully responsible and involved in my life.
The possible but often difficult learning at this stage of the relationship is to give up wanting to change the other.
Real intimacy is the one that allows you to dream together … with different dreams.
1 + 1 = 3:
Living as a couple means accepting to create and develop a double intimacy: to share a common intimacy and to recognize a personal intimacy. Essential does not mean « everything », « monopoly ».
Let’s commit to taking care of our relationship, if it’s important to you for me.
A shared intimacy:
Children tend (and we let them too often to do) to appropriate and invade the entire family space.
Intimacy will also be preserved in terms of exchanges, testimonies or confidences. What I tell you belongs to our relationship. Whenever I transgress the privacy requirement of a personalized exchange, I take the risk of hurting not only the other person but also the relationship.
Physical intimacy: the essence of a desire is that it needs to be heard, the need needs it, to be welcomed and received even if it is not directly satisfied.
We all need a good distance:
- between abandonment and proximity
- between giving and receiving
- between freedom and trust
Many partners are limited to define projects in « hollow » (« I will not be present next Tuesday »). It is more stimulating to have projects « in full » (« I will be present Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and this is what I want to do with you »).
A link has to be managed every day, by a question mark, a challenge or a common confirmation of the feeling and of the project of yourself … to the other one
Every relationship contains a part of random, unpredictable, part of the unknown linked to evolutions, revelations and encounters that dot all existence. This is the risk inherent in any form of life.