PREVIOUS: Part 3 – Experimenting
♥ ACTS OF AFFILIATION ♥ (cont) indicated by Types of Communication
4. INTEGRATING (Short-term)
a. Normal: This is when 2 people become a couple or close friends, emphasizing to themselves & others how similar they are. They depend on each other for confirmation & acceptance of self-concepts. Verbal statements change to indicate exclusivity & separation from others
• They feel unique, taking on each others thinking, style & mannerisms. The ‘we’ increase to ‘us’, with shared Intimacy & Trophies (the key, leaving clothes & toiletries, favorite book & music…) For some dyads, it’s the stage when sexual activity may begin (if they waited), & a deepening of self-disclosure
“…it feels like we’re one person!” <> “Yeah, we’re soul-mates!” • “I feel so much a part of you” <> “I know, like we have the same mind!”
Friends from both sides are brought together & if they’re a couple, they’re treated as a unit, receiving one invitation, one gift, one email account…..
• While they may seem to be fused, it should not mean losing one’s individuality! This is crucial for a healthy relationship
• It’s also possible for people to love each other, be friends, partners or a romantic couple – for a while, but not make it permanent. They can remain friends & benefit from the time they spent together, but it’s not required
b. ACoAs: For those of us who get to this stage –
• some of us are able to keep friends & lovers, but can have extreme ups & downs, huge fights, occasional separations….
• because ACoAs have so many unrealistic expectations of relationships, we can too easily become disillusioned & depressed, spending a lot of time being critical, suspicious, feeling unloved & generally dissatisfied, while not focusing on the benefit of being with this person – if there’s enough of it
• because of denial, we are willing to just go along endlessly, putting up with & participate in unhealthy patterns with our partner, rather than outgrowing them
• at this stage ACoAs may still assume the relationship will last forever. If it doesn’t, we’re deeply shocked & devastated. We’re rarely prepared for yet another loss, not willing to notice the signs, not willing to let go
• by this time we may feel so enmeshed & trapped that we can’t get out even if we feel we want to (like not being able to leave our family, psychologically)
• we may be quietly or openly desperate to leave, but won’t because of
— our co-dependence, not wanting to hurt the other person, especially if they beg us not leave (altho they may secretly want out too)
— our FoA, believing that the misery of staying isn’t really so bad, compared to the unbearable pain of separation & loneliness
• if it’s a partner, & we’re determined to break up, but can’t do it directly, we may:
— start an affair with someone else, so we don’t have to go thru an ‘alone time’. Then feel guilty & anxiously wait to be found out, maybe confessing, as if we’re being honest
— create a ruckus in the relationship – fighting, verbal attacks, withdrawal, the silent treatment, getting 3rd parties involved…..
📌 In either case, we’re trying to force our partner to do the leaving, knowing they’ll be hurt & feel betrayed, then we’ll secretly be the winner, while acting like the abandoned victim!
NEXT: #5 – Bonding