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I have been dating an introverted man who I am very in love with for almost 2 years.  Reading your posts have helped me to be more supportive and understanding to him especially during the times when he needs space.  I just wanted to thank you for your weekly posts and let you know how helpful they are for someone who is in a relationship with an introvert. C.M. on space2live
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your depth of understanding, and talent at sharing it amaze me. Speechless… and for your sharing of it.. Thank you… deeply. *sigh, its like coming back into my body through acceptance….. Sherrie on space2live
Sherrie
THANK YOU….. you just summed up my swirling thoughts into something i can read with out everything else in my head meshing with it. I finally feel like i can explain what happens within without getting distracted. I’m an Introvert with ADD and it makes it so hard to explain quite what im feeling sometimes. — M.G. on space2live
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Your words are my lifeline.  I sit down to your posts and as I read I can feel my acceptance of myself and my needs grow.  Your words validate my feelings about my life, motherhood, relationships and it is something I hold onto.  And during the times when I feel like I am not able to be a mother or a wife or a sister or a friend or whatever someone needs me to be, I go back to your words and find some peace…I send your posts to my husband when I need him to understand that I love him but I need …
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I think I want to print out your articles and hand them out as a sort of relationship waiver form. “You want to be my friend?….You are interesting in going out? Here read this first. Sign here to acknowledge that you have read and understand the enclosed material. Thank you.” Seriously. I think it would work. — Guerin Moorman
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That courage and dedication you so generously share with the world, has inspired me to push myself a little harder, persevere at each task a little longer, dig a little bit deeper to where the answers just “feel” right to both my humanity AND my spirit. Your insights have reinforced my direction and given me additional tools that help me clear my path. I’m wired into my creativity as never before and the new music is pouring out of me faster than I can record and produce it; this is the Un…
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During one of the harder times in my life I found Brenda’s website
and reached out to her. To say the least it has been one of the best
decisions I have made. Being an extrovert I never quite understood
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Your site has saved my sanity and my life. Maybe even my marriage. I work part time and have two young boys at home, my husband is supportive of me but until recently I thought I was going crazy. … Reading your writing not only inspires me to pick up the pen again, but gives me nourishment in the deepest places. I will fight for balance. Everything you write is spot on… And wellness is so incredibly multifaceted.  I was ready to give up hope, but understanding myself through your words is bring…
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How to Reconnect: Maintaining Sexual Interest, Engagement and Identity in Your Relationship

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Notes from the dating world:

Over sushi, we talked about couples who spend the majority of their time together —working, playing, family events – and couples who do their own thing and then come together for twenty minutes to an hour at the end of the day. He said he preferred to spend the majority of his time with his partner, including running errands, childrearing, leisure activities, etc.

I found his response both wistfully sweet and slightly unsettling.

While one part of me imagined lightheartedly playing bumper carts at Costco another part recalled a time of uneasiness when my then-husband decided it would be nice to run on the treadmill next

What I wear to shop at Costco.;)

What I wear to shop at Costco.;)

to me at the gym every week. Back then, that hour on the treadmill —headphones in place, daydreams in sync with my iPod selections — was a precious time of reflection and self-renewal. His close proximity and sporadic attempts at conversation popped that personal bubble. I remember desperately needing that space but also feeling sickly guilty for not wanting to be by his side like he wanted to be by mine.

Lover = Best Friend?

I remember a snarky article in Oprah’s O Magazine a few years ago that said spouses who call their mate their best friend don’t have a real best friend (picture Oprah/Gayle). Insinuating that the closeness, honesty and big laughs granted a good friend are not possible or very different from the relationship you have with your spouse.

At that time in my life, I agreed.

In the Wall Street Journal article, Advice for a Happy Life by Charles Murray – Murray defines a soul mate as, your closest friend to whom you are also sexually attracted. My ex-husband and I were not especially emotionally intimate or passionately sexual. We were a team, a partnership. We ran errands together, had our weekend routines and upheld traditional roles within our home. I didn’t feel a soul mate or best friend connection.

Fantasy bond or real love?

I find the word lover more appealing than the word husband. I think I know why. Lover implies an individual who you are sexually active with and intensely attracted to. Husband is a conventional role that conjurs up images of someone who is half of a whole. Not an individual but a component in a relationship. Someone you run errands with instead of gazing into each other’s souls.

In his article, The Fantasy Bond:A Substitute for a Truly Loving Relationship, Dr. Robert Firestone describes a fantasy bond as, the antithesis of a healthy personal relationship where individuals are free to express their real feelings and desires. Couples in the throes of a fantasy bond appear like a solid whole unit from the outside but have no substance underneath. They rely on habitual contact and routines to serve as affection. Lovemaking is less frequent and mundane. Individual interests are sacrificed for the good of the family/relationship.

Why do fantasy bonds form?

Most people have some fear of intimacy and become self-protective. Perhaps they have been psychologically hurt as a child or a previous relationship failed causing them great pain. Exposing tender kissyourself to rejection or potential loss (including death) is anxiety provoking. In order to save themselves from  suffering they develop illusory intimacy based on safe routines and conventional actions. I love you said as a habit as you turn off the lights. Pecks on the cheek instead of slow tender kissing. Using we way more than I. I’ll do the laundry for you if you take my car in for an oil change. While thoughtful caregiving and household teamwork is practical and always appreciated, it can spell trouble when it is substituted for true intimacy.

While some of us may fall in love with the idea of being a couple, most of us fall in love with the enthusiasm, perspective, sense of humor, passion, style, integrity, etc. of the person who captures our heart. If we stop seeing our partner as an individual we fall out of love with them. Our relationship feels hollow because it’s based on form rather than substance, the forest rather than the trees.

How to Reconnect 

How do you get that loving feeling back? According to Dr. Firestone you:

1. Start by admitting there is a fantasy bond in place.

2. Investigate fantasy bonds in childhood development. Did a parent disappoint you? Did you become overly self-sufficient because of it?

3. Face the pain involved with being honest and vulnerable with your feelings. Pierce the protective veil.

4. Expose fears of being alone or separated.conversation

5. Establish independence and respect for each other. Disrupt patterns of dominance or submission.

6. Communicate non-defensively. Share feedback in a healthy way.

7. Expand personal interests beyond the home or relationship.

Is it possible to spend the majority of your time together and maintain individuality, engagement and sexual interest?

I hope so.

I still have a slight fear of being engulfed in a fantasy bond where we both fall asleep in the relationship. As an introvert, I crave solitude occasionally, but ultimately, I don’t want to be alone. I want a mate. A best friend and a lover.

 

How awake are you in your relationship? How could you re-dedicate yourself to conscious engagement? Do you believe your partner can be your best friend and your lover?

If this post spoke to you, you may also enjoy:

Stay in Love by Staying Out of Fantasy (PsychAlive)

Introvert Relationships: Love Me or Leave Me But Please Don’t Need Me (Too Much) (space2live)

Emotional Intimacy: An Introvert’s Ultimate Turn On? (space2live)

Introvert Relationships: Are Our Expectations for Love Unobtainable? (space2live)

It’s Never Too Late to Experience Mind Blowing Passion (space2live)

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3 Comments

  1. Kay June 3, 2014 at 7:36 pm - Reply

    Thank you! This article was VERY helpful for me to read 🙂

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