For instance, last night I was at a dinner party and when word got around that I am the Ph.D. who studies relationships, an inevitable mini group-therapy session broke out. The stories abounded about our curious relationship landscape. And alcohol-fueled questions popped out that amounted to “why am I like this?”
With few social rules forcing people into traditional relationships, many people are beginning to understand that their relationship style whether it be dominated by promiscuity, serial monogamy, an emotionally avoidant marriage, or preference for solitude, lies on them. With few family and friends forcing us into a legal, heterosexual, monogamous union, we are free to live out who we are. And that’s the problem. Many of us do not want to live out our “natural” attachment style and actually long for a closeness that will help us feel secure. Or we long for a relationship that will help us procreate and create healthy offspring.
Time and time again at these ad hoc therapy sessions, I find myself explaining “fear of dependancy.” Because, in my opinion, that’s what most relationship strife boils down to. In order to have a healthy relationship, we have to trust someone, we have to trust love and believe it will be consistent. And partners have to learn to depend on each other. All these beliefs about love are programmed in infancy and early life.
So when pop-psyche writers like myself identify someone as being comittment-phobic or a bad-boy or a cougar, we are actually looking at a behavior that is the outcome of a mistrust of love. A fear of being dependent on another.
For some reason, our culture places great value on independence. It’s one unfortunate downside of capitalism. My suspicion is that large, intertwined family systems are a threat to commerce and politics. But too much independence is a killer of romantic relationships. A healthy relationship is also not a kind of co-dependence where no one can remember who’s problem is whose. Instead, a mutually supportive relationship involves interdependence, where partners takes turns leaning on each other. And like that game of trust where one closes his eyes and falls back into the arms of a trusted friend, are you really convinced that you will always be caught? Because that’s exactly what’s keeping you single or disconnected in your marriage.