Most of us on the spiritual path are familiar with the concept that our relationships act as a mirror of ourselves. We tend to project onto others what we can not accept as yet in ourselves. One of the benefits of being in a conscious relationship with another is helping each other retrieve these lost and rejected parts. This is difficult work, and while much of the time rewarding, it can also be incredibly frustrating and uncomfortable. Knowing that one purpose of relationship is to heal these wounded parts of ourselves can go a long way in making the process less confusing.
Many of my clients think that when they attract their ideal mate, they will also have a smooth time in relationship, because the mate is their Ideal. But, what I see happen more often is that once the initial bliss has passed, the couple jump (usually unconsciously) straight into deep healing work, called by most relationship experts the power struggle phase of relationship. And, unfortunately many of us can become stuck here.
What’s going on, and how do we stay conscious during this fragile time in the relationship? First, it’s important to realize that when we intentionally create a conscious relationship, which all my workshop participants do, we are inviting all things unconscious and destructive to arise into consciousness so we can make them constructive. And, anything that prevents us from having a good relationship at all will surface first.
A typical example that I’ve seen many times, including in my own relationships, is one in which one partner has abandonment or neediness issues. The person may even be aware of these abandonment issues, may have been in therapy for them, may have thought them through and know them backwards and forwards intellectually. But, what happens once they are in relationship with another is that the emotions arise as if they were new, and they find that the other person doesn’t respond in a way that can satisfy their neediness. The feelings of dependency and the need for reassurance increase to the point where no reassurance from the other is satisfying.
Interestingly, the type of person the needy partner attracts is usually one who is afraid of commitment. The commitment phobe will either attract a partner whose neediness will push the commitment phobe away, or attract a partner for which our commitment phobe feels no deep emotional connection. The commitment phobe may even understand all the reasons why he or she is afraid of marriage, but not realize why he (or she) can’t attract a suitable partner. The sure sign a commitment phobe (who actually craves connection) has met an ideal mate is that this person feels absolutely sure the ideal mate cannot be the ideal mate because the emotions are running so strong in the negative direction.
So, how do two people with these issues actually succeed in having a relationship at all? The key is to be aware of your patterns in the first place, and to stay conscious when the emotional roller coaster arises and the feelings of neediness or feelings of trapped-ness arise. And to not act out of these feelings or blame these feelings on the other partner. (Remember, your feelings are your responsibility). Speaking from first hand experience, this is a horrible emotional state to be in and it is very easy and tempting to fall unconscious. However, once I had chosen to stay with myself, burning consciously in these very uncomfortable emotions a few times, I found I was much less likely to act on my old patternings. Eventually I was able to immediately recognize the pattern without being affected at all. Feeling the emotions without trying to get rid of them or make them better or even analyze them did everything to release them from my system.
It is also helpful to have at least one partner conscious. Several times in my own courtship with my husband and I had to remind him of his pattern. He was so unconscious at first, he didn’t believe his pattern was being triggered. Eventually he was able to catch himself at it, and we were able to laugh about it when it came up. Once my husband got a better grip on his own pattern, I was able to delve more deeply into my own without triggering his. By taking turns in this way we were able to help each other move all the emotional stuckness out. Finally both our patterns, which seemed designed to play off each other, became non issues. (There are, of course, other possible push/pull patterns besides abandonment/fear of commitment. Rebel/tyrant is another common one.)
If both partners become triggered by old patterns, it’s pretty likely that the old issues will be acted out instead of addressed and healed. If this happens, once the pattern has run itself out, it’s important to come back to center and recommit to staying conscious the next time. Unfortunately, when both partners are triggered into acting from their old woundings, damage can be done to the partnership. It takes a committed and aware couple to come back to center and try again. I also remind myself and my clients that even if they left this particular relationship, they will probably go through the same thing with the next partner—our souls want to heal that badly.
Conscious relationship can be difficult at first, but speaking from experience, once these old issues are brought up in the relationship and healed, happiness and harmony will soon follow. Do not be discouraged if you are in the midst of the power struggle. Let your relationship act as a mirror to see those parts of yourself you cannot see on your own quite clearly as yet. And, if you are in between relationships, take this time as an opportunity to get to know your patterns so you have an easier time with the next relationship. Your commitment to consciousness will see you in successful partnership soon.
Would you like to know more? See The New Couple by Taylor and McGee
I just read your article on relationship mirror and I felt I was reading about myself and my (recently ex fiancée) He was the commitment phobe and I fear of abandonment. we have been together for 10 years through a few break ups and still talking. I want to heal my side of it and finally know what I am dealing with in a commitment Phobic person-for years I did not know that’s what he was b/c he had been married twice. I would be interested in any additional article.
Thank you for your kind words! I am glad my essay was helpful. Please look around at the other articles on my website. If you find that you might be an Empath, then you’d probably find my books helpful, too. Let me know if you have more questions.
I have been dating a man for almost a year in fact in 2 days it will be a year. During the past 5 months I have felt a pull back. Although we see each other each weekend for only a set amount of time Saturday at 4pm thru Sunday at 5pm /7pm. We used to see each other almost every Wednesday but that is changing and he hasn’t responded to Wednesday as he used to.
He used to text almost each day, but now it’s half as much and he calls since the past month very infrequently, usually before we see each other on the weekends to set things up.
I feel like a weekend girl now. Never met any of this friends, nor his parents. He is extremely close to his mother, almost too close, kind of freaky weird.
I was very hurt this past weekend when I had a girlfriend form out of state stay with me and he hardly text’d me at all. It was so not like it used to be only a few weeks before when I had visitors he would text.
I do not know if he is pulling away or wants me to end this. I did send him a text telling him how hurt I was by his not texting or calling and if his wish was to be “free”. I made it quite clear that his actions were hurtful and cruel.
On a positive note we always have a good weekend together. There have been very few weekends that have not gone well. Although his Mommy always calls and he’s told me she has told him ” not to have sex, since he’s not married”, seems she is very religious.
He always seems to care about me when we are together. Although I do feel he has a few girlfriends he goes out with, which he says are just “friends” one is a old girlfriend he did date a long time ago he says.
Together we are fine , apart there is a secret life of his own. After I sent my text last night I do not know if I will hear from him again, it was his trying to get me to leave I think. First saying he would call me after reading the text, than a hour later saying he was too tired and he would call tomorrow. That really upset me and I sent him a text telling him not to bother, and a few other things not terrible just stating how hurt I was by his actions and if he wanted to move on I wish he would call and tell me.
Did not get a answer this morning, did not think I would.
What should I do, just leave not look back or try and work this out if he does call and tries to explain ???? I care for him and think he is mother enmeched/ commitment phobic. I have told him from day one, I do not want to marry or live with anyone I have been married 25 years before my divorce and don’t want any part of it. This seemed to put him at some ease, but I do not get what is going on now.
I’m so sorry you are going through a confusing time with your boyfriend. I’m unclear–are you happy with being a weekend girlfriend as long as he is texting you regularly during the week, or do you want more? Has he said clearly what he wants in your relationship?
It does seem like you two are pushing away from each other because of hurt feelings, which might not be hurt if you both have the same expectations. Let me know what you think.
Been dating my CP for 6 months on and off, she told me I treated her the best she has ever been treated, been a complete gentlemen to her, gave her the world, and all my love. We argued and a bit, from miscommunication, went to her house one morning and her and I had a talk, it was a very progressive talk, seemed like everything will be ok. We were intimate before I left. She told me she loved me on my drive home via text, she random texted me and told me “her sex drive was high, and she wanted me really bad”, later i fell asleep and texted her after I woke up 5 hours later. She told me she did not see a future with me, she didn’t think anything would work out, and she suddenly ended it. I’ve been confused, CP’s run hot and cold, give them time and no contact and they run back.
I’m so sorry you are in a confusing push pull relationship with your girlfriend. Yes, with commitment phobes, they can seem to run hot and cold. The question is, does she know she has this tendency? Does she want to change it? Do you want to stay in this relationship if it doesn’t change? Is there some old issue (dependency, putting up with craziness, etc.) in you that is a perfect foil for her commitment issues? I encourage you to step back from the pattern and take a deeper look at what could be motivating behavior. That’s the first step in breaking this painful cycle.
All the best to you!
Hello Dear Elaine,
First of all thank you for all the information here. I met this wonderful woman and we liked each other instantly. We are in mid 30’s. She is a classic CP so she pushed a little at first. We had amazing intimate moments and chats but she was always warning me that she will hurt me eventually so it’s better to stop everything. This happened in the first 3 weeks then I broke up after an emotional intimate moment when she told me that she will hurt me without a doubt and that got her very sad. When she lets go she craves affection, hugs and love but then gets confused after. We made up and told her that I am hers and that got her very happy and couldn’t let go of hugging me. After a month, one morning she went cold and after a week she left me. She said that she enjoys everything with me but cannot see any future with me either. She has the, waiting-for-the-one kind of CP although the first time she broke up she kept saying how lucky any girl that you choose will be while being very warm and sexual. This time she just went cold while ignoring some of my texts. I think I didn’t help because I pushed her without giving her space but I was lost not knowing if we are together or not and that bothered me a lot.
She is not out of my league girl but I think her stakes are too high. She said that she cannot feel that spark, that excitement, the want to dress and look nice but from what I have observed I see that everything is there but there is so much worry, anxiety and fear that she cannot see them and by making herself more appealing means that she will pull her partner more in which traps her even further. I analyze a lot so I don’t believe I am seeing unclear.
She is unconsciously aware of her issues and she hates it and she knows that most men she will meet she will push them away till she finds the perfect guy, which will be the one that doesn’t want commitment and breaks her heart. She knows all this. I care a lot about her and I want to give my energy to be with her but I am lost.
Thank you for sharing some of your story with me. It sounds like this person has reeled you in–it’s very easy to create obsession in another by exhibiting hot, then cold, behavior. I would take a step back and see if this is what is really going on. If she wasn’t doing the push-pull thing, would you still be attracted to her given all her anxiety and fear?