All of our issues come up in our relationships — our fears of domination, rejection, abandonment, of being wrong, embarrassed or humiliated. Relationships bring up our deepest fears of loss of self and loss of other, which triggers our deep learned protections — anger, judgment, withdrawal, resistance, and compliance.
While our dysfunctional patterns emerge most clearly in primary relationships with a partner, these patterns are certainly activated in friendships, work relationships, and relationships with our parents and children. Therefore, if you are not in a primary relationship with a partner, do not despair! You can still be learning from and evolving in all your relationships through your Inner Bonding practice.
Craig, one of my clients, had not been in a committed relationship for about seven years. Yet most of the work we did together revolved around the problems he had in his work relationships and friendships. Craig is a person who hated to be controlled by others. As soon as he felt someone wanting something from him such as time, attention, or approval, he felt smothered and withdrew. He is highly sensitive to people coming to him from an inner emptiness and "pulling" on him to fill them up. However, his withdrawal didn't work well for him. Before starting to practice Inner Bonding, when a "puller" came up against Craig's resistance, that person tended to pull even more. Craig, who didn't want to appear rude, ended up giving himself up and caretaking — giving the person what he or she wanted. He then felt angry and found himself not even wanting to be around that person any more. This same dynamic occurred in both of his marriages.
Through practicing Inner Bonding, Craig developing a powerful adult self who can speak his truth when feeling pulled on rather than withdrawing or complying. He learned that it may be loving to himself to be open to learning with the other person and say something like, "I feel there is something you are wanting from me. What is it?" He learned that it may be loving to himself to say, "When you pull on me for approval (or time or attention), it doesn't feel good. I would like to have a caring relationship with you, but I don't want to be responsible for your good feelings." He also learned that he can smile and lovingly disengage without closing his heart.