Now we’re together forever – I think
PREVIOUS: #1 Initiating
♥ ACTS OF AFFILIATION ♥ indicated by types of Communication
2. EXPERIMENTING (Potential)
a. Normal: Time for small talk, presenting our public face. The focus is on light, humorous, informative conversation:
“ Did you like Thai food?” <> “I don’t know – never tried it” . “I went to France this summer” <> “Really! I’ve always wanted to go there! Tell me about it”
• There is mutual attraction & also a desire to reduce uncertainly about one another. Telling more about oneself implies an increase in trust, & we expect others to do the same – so that neither will feel too vulnerable
• People use (secret) tests to check how attentive the other person is by how they respond to what we say (laugh at our jokes, respect our boundaries…). Each has certain expectations of the other, which must be met for our interest to continue : being upbeat, neatly dressed, polite, interesting ….
b. ACoAs: People give us info about themselves all the time – by their presentation, their actions & of course words — their tastes, interests, like & dislikes… and we need to PAY ATTENTION!
Yes, it takes months of regular contact to get a realistic picture of the other person, but we can glean a great deal from each conversation right from the beginning.
So after every encounter, always ASK:
“What did I learn about them? How did I feel when I was with them, & afterward? Are they moving too fast? How do they handle situations & other people?”
✶ How much are they truly reciprocating, or am I the only one sharing – OR only them?
If so – we can take that as a warning sign. They’re either too scared or too self-centered. If we proceed, we have to accept the consequences.
➼ This constant evaluation is crucial for us to do at each stage, because ACoAs have such strong training & defenses against seeing others accurately. If the WIC likes someone AND they feel familiar (in some way like our family), WE may :
i. be in ‘Lala Land’ = don’t want to know they may not be an appropriate fit, especially if we feel a very strong pull – so we idealize them, convinced they’re ‘the one’, or a BFF… Actually, at this stage it’s just too early to know for sure
ii. get “the ICKs” (scroll down) = If we’re not quite comfortable with them, but they’re not blatantly abusive, we need time to find out if it’s because –
— the WIC &/or PP is acting up – with self-hate, lack of trust, old buttons triggered, our FoA, weak boundaries…
— the person is actually icky in some way – their damage is showing & we’re picking it up, but can’t verbalize it yet
— they’re genuinely NOT suited to our True Self, no matter how smart, competent, nice, or how much they may like us.
SO – we wait & LISTEN, hopefully with a clear, fair & open mind
IMPORTANT – Going slowly will allow us to:
• see how much like our family they are or aren’t (requires knowing ourself well, & paying attention to every interaction with the other person)
• find out if they are genuinely compatible with our Real Self
• observe if they can truly see us for who we are, value, admire & respect us – realistically, not just for what we can give them
• how well or badly they handle our damage/ defects
• what their character defects are, & how it will impact us over time
• see if their positives outweigh the negatives (which everyone has), so that being with them will add value to our life
• how capable & willing are they to take responsibility for their own life, so we don’t have to rescue or clean up after them
ALSO, if they have a spiritual life, is it internalized? does it show in the way they live? or is it just another band-aid or diversion from unresolved deeper issues
NOTE: When someone has too many negatives – no matter how much we like or love them – they’re unsafe to be with! Take stock & be honest with yourself. Get a trusted 2nd & 3rd opinion! If we ACoAs are willing to take these stages a little at a time & ‘stay awake; with many of our relationships – we’ll save ourself a lot of heartache!
NEXT: Part 3 – Intensifying, Integrating
4 thoughts on “‘GETTING TO KNOW YOU’ Stages (Part 2)”
I am married now but I struggle with what is “acceptable” disharmony in a relationship. I was lucky enough to have a former LTR which lasted over 10 yrs and was healthy, despite the fact we didn’t make it. Today, I married an amazing, wonderful flawed human being. 🙂 I do not expect perfection, and I am far from needy…..and yet while most is good, I struggle with the “flaws” and wonder if my dissatisfaction stems from a true problem or not. Your recent posts are “food for thought”, thanks!
I think all of us with a WIC will have some buttons that will always be with us, even if our reactions stop being so intense. It’s inevitable that someone we live with is going to bump up against those buttons. Disharmony does not automatically imply we’re not loved or lovable – or that we’ll inevitably get abandoned, even tho the kid is sure of it. We just keep working on our stuff & pray for healing!
I’ve been studying this blog for a month now. It is a life saver for me.
I’m dealing with separation&individuation anxiety (in practice) from my narcissistic single mother with whom I was in a symbiosis. I’m 30 and still fighting for independence, lol. But thanks to your blog, I finally begin to understand many many things. I had 7 years of professional therapy but it was only tip of the iceberg, now I’m getting to the whole mountain underneath!
Anyway, my question is this: I have a boyfriend of 2,5 years (I do not count anymore, how much of my previous romantic relationships went down the drain) and I sometimes feel I’m getting ‘crumbs’, because he doesnt want to move in together yet, wont have children yet etc. BUT on the other hand I am the one who unconsciously wants to be in another symbiosis! So, how do I know if it is me who wants too much too quickly or is it him who is maybe emotionally unavailable??
That is one of my big questions 🙂
I cannot thank you enough for all the great information on this blog.
Thanks for writing.
I think after 2 1/2 yrs it’s clear he is limited in what he can give you. If you want more you’ll need to keep looking. However, you & your Inner Child have to be on the same page about what you have a right to, or ‘she’ will pick another limited person.
But you can still look & then evaluate, book-ending with your kid about each new person. When I was going thru that I made a list of the qualities my Child was used to choosing vs the ones my healthy adult wanted & used that in my evaluations. I asked God to prepare someone for me as I was being prepared. It took a long time but it worked.