Fantasy bonds exist on a continuum. Some couples are deeper into fantasy than others. Most people fluctuate between moments of being truly close and moments of substituting fantasy for real love. By recognizing the degree to which you engage in a fantasy connection as opposed to a sincere form of relating, you can challenge negative habits and patterns, and experience new and exciting stages of your relationship. On April 24, I will be hosting a Free Webinar on The Fantasy Bond, which will present a model for an ideal relationship that combines emotional closeness and sexual intimacy, while each partner maintains a differentiated and individuated sense of self. In the meantime, here are a few key ways to identify if you are in a fantasy bond and how you and your partner can go about changing it.
Loss of Physical Attraction - When we form a fantasy of fusion with another person, we tend to eventually lose some of our physical attraction to that person. Relying on someone to take care of us or looking to them to complete us puts a heavy burden on our relationship. We start to see the person as an extension of ourselves, and within that framework, we lose some of that “chemistry” that drew us to them. When we view our partners as the independent and attractive individuals they are, we can keep a fresh level of excitement and affection for them.
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Merged Identity – When you look at your relationship, can you recognize ways you and your partner step on each other’s boundaries? Do you speak as “we” instead of “him or her” and “I?” Maintaining our separateness and pursuing what particularly lights us up is the best way to be ourselves in our relationships. Rather than driving us apart, this separateness actually allows us to feel our attractions and choose to be together. Think about the state people are in when they first fall in love. They are drawn to each other based on their unique attributes. Their individuality is viewed with interest and respect, qualities we should aim to maintain even decades after being with someone romantically.
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Letting yourself go physically or mentally – When we reach a level of comfort in a relationship, we may tend to care a little less about how we look and how we take care of ourselves. We may be more likely to act out without regard or consideration for the ways we not only hurt our partners but ourselves. We may gain weight or engage in unhealthy habits, drinking more or exercising less. These habits aren’t just acts of comfort. They are often ways of protecting ourselves from sustained closeness. They often serve to shatter our self-esteem and push our partners away. They also tend to have a deadening effect on our relationship, weakening our confidence and vitality.