COUPLES’ DILEMMA: FUSION OR CLOSENESS
We humans have a natural desire for closeness with another. We want to share our burdens and our joy. We hope our troubles will be easier to bear if we have support. We know that pleasure and delight are more fun when we’re together and that loneliness is the pits.
This desire for togetherness, however, is often confused with the need for completeness and self-esteem. If we enter into and pursue a relationship expecting our partner to solve our personal problems we will soon be disappointed. Faced with that disappointment, emotionally fused couples will engage in elaborate and devious deceptions to avoid confronting their real differences and conflicts.
Under stress, a fused person will tend to blame their partner or themselves for things that go wrong. “If he loved me I’d feel good about my life”, or, “If I were good enoughI’d be able to satisfy her”, these are the thoughts of a fused partner.
Once partners begin taking responsibility for each other’s feelings, more and more areas of the relationship become filled with tension. Over time, the couple will tend to avoid more and more areas in an effort to avoid tension. This inevitably leads to alienation as flexibility decreases and communication about emotions is constricted or eliminated.
This failure to appreciate and allow for differences in the other stems from never having achieved emotional independence from one’s parents. Each partner puts the other in charge of their self-esteem. The myth that sustains the problem is, “If you are different from me or disagree with me, you don’t love me and therefore I am not worthwhile.”
Fusion and closeness are ultimately incompatible. Fusion requires a lack of awareness of differences while true closeness demands acknowledgment, tolerance and even appreciation of them.