Sunday, 9 September 2012
Shaping Our Other Halves
I've got to thinking recently about how and where we learn how to function in long term relationships. I'm sure we all pick up bits and peices along the way and learn through experience, but how do we know what these influencing factors are and whether or not we want to take them on board and meld them into the way we work. Are we conscious of it or does it happen subconsciously?
Many people say you learn it from watching your parents.... I think this is probably an influencing factor yes, but I'm unsure as to for which party.... Does this influence how we respond in relationships? or does it influence our expectations of our partners? Or both?
I was brought up, in my younger years, in a household full of women. My Mum was a single parent and I have a sister. All 3 of us behave very differently in our long term relationships, so I doubt that we've learnt this way of being from each other.
I hear people remark all the time about how funny it is that they end up choosing a partner that in retrospect is very similar to their mothers/fathers.... Did they? Or is that what they, over time, have created?
Perhaps, through our childhoods we develop perceptions and stories about how we believe men and woman interact, the roles that they take and the ways they respond to each other.
Perhaps, we then interact with our partners using this lens. We create a story about how they as a male/female will interact and respond in a relationship and we modify our behavious when with them to match this story.
Perhaps, we expect particular responses from them and look for these responses to 'prove' our story or expectation. To strengthen and perpetuate the cycle.
Do we then unknowingly play the role set out for us, and play it for long enough that we believe it to be, not a role but our nature?
Have we, perhaps learnt to interact in long term relationships from our other halves? Have they set the expectations? Have their expectations or roles for us, taught and shaped us through time?
And if so, what expectations are we unwittingly shaping them with?
Does it happen both ways or is there a more dominant 'shaper'? If so, is the more dominant shaper the one with the strongest role models and therefore the strongest expectations?
I think consciously we all try to avoid 'changing' our partners and we love and accept them for who they are... But what about the subconscious forces we are completely unaware of? What work is happening there?