Is your relationship more infatuation or resentment than love and gratitude? If so, you have a one-sided or imbalanced relationship. Within an infatuation you expect there to be all pleasure and little to no pain. Within a resentful relationship you expect there to be all pain and very little pleasure. We can settle for the vulnerability and unfulfillment these scenarios bring or we can restore balance.
Infatuation; it’s all you
If we fall for someone and only see their positive traits (infatuation), there is a danger we become insecure and worry that we are not good enough or that they will leave us. We bend ourselves to fit what we perceive they desire. We minimize ourselves and our values to maintain the feeling of perpetual pleasure and support from our partner. We become extremely dependent on them. We may grow to resent them.
This way of being is imbalanced. We are only looking at the pleasurable side.
Balanced love is seeing our loved one’s amazing qualities in ourselves. Instead of minimizing ourselves, we balance our perspective, by noting our own good qualities.
Not only can we become aware of our positive traits but we can note that the “good” traits our partner possesses, may have downsides as well. For example, our lover’s sense of humor may be great most of the time, but if we need them to be serious, the funny business becomes irritating.
Resentment; it’s all you
When we give up parts of ourselves to keep the peace in our relationship, inevitably resentment builds. We miss ourselves. We see our partner as the source of the loss and resentment. We see all of their “bad” traits and how we need to change them. In this case, we have aggrandized ourselves and minimized our significant other. We want to be free of their challenges to our equanimity.
Dr. John Demartini says in The Values Factor, to restore our balance, we need to see our significant other’s “bad” traits in ourselves. For instance, if our partner seems controlling at times, it helps to think of times when we act controlling.
It also helps to see the behavior we resent in our partner in a positive light. For example, how do we benefit from our lover’s perceived controlling behavior? Perhaps we benefit from the salary he or she earns by controlling things at work.
Also in The Values Factor, Dr. Demartini says nature always offers support and challenge. We can’t have one without the other or we have an imbalanced perspective. This is how it is in our relationships. If we believe loving relationships should be full of highs and easily remedied lows, then we have an imbalanced perspective based on support without challenge. If we see everything our partner does as challenging us and our values, then we also have a one-sided viewpoint.
All support comes with challenge
Nature interferes and shows us where we have limited perspective. Sometimes these wake-up calls are gentle. Other times they hit us like a ton of bricks. A subtle wake-up call example is one where let’s say a wife loves the skills her husband has for fixing appliances around the house. She gets used to having him repair things for her (maybe even takes him for granted), but then word gets out in the neighborhood about his skills. Suddenly, all the neighbors are hiring him to fix their appliances. He gives up family time to help the neighbors. Now the wife balances her dependence on his support with the challenge of his increased absences.
An example where the return to balance is more devastating may involve a serious illness or a job loss. Life and love when seen through a broad perspective include pleasure and pain, independence and dependence within interdependence.
Insecure attachments show imbalance
In The Quiet Rise of Introverts I wrote about avoidant, ambivalent and secure attachment. Someone who is avoidantly attached is self-reliant and withdraws when under stress. They act independently because their primary caregiver was not available to them when they were children. They learned to self-regulate.
In contrast, someone with an ambivalent attachment style often seeks attention and reassurance from their friends and lovers. They want to resolve conflict right away with interaction. They are more dependent on others for comfort. They also move in close for intimacy but then might withdraw in fear of disappointment, hence the ambivalent title. Their caregivers were inconsistent with affection and security, causing the child to want to please and stay close to them.
Secure attachment = interdependence
A securely attached adult understands there will be ebb and flow in connection with others but knows responsiveness is key to a healthy partnership. They are comfortable being themselves and doing their own thing but enjoy intimacy too. They thrive in interdependence. Their parents met their emotional and physical needs as children.
Those who are securely attached, value interdependence and expect pleasure and pain as part of their personal narrative. They have an easier time creating and maintaining balanced perspectives and healthy relationships.
The purpose of relationship imbalances
All of us get unbalanced in our relationships. When we experience it we feel anxious and discontent. We want to get back to good. Imbalance serves a purpose. According to Dr. Demartini, its purpose is to promote our personal growth, and growth is found on the border of support and challenge. Accepting the dichotomy, gives us the balance we seek.
Where are you living with a one-sided perspective? Do you believe love means no real challenges? How do you strive for secure attachment, interdependence and balance?
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