Dominantsubmissive Adaptations Among Couples

Lovers for whom mutual dependency is a primary concern often form very troubled but durable relationships in which there appears to be a strong dominant-submissive gradient between them. They sometimes attempt to perpetuate the fiction that the dominant partner is strong and free. This allows them both to participate in his apparent strength. Nonetheless, whether dominant or submissive, the lover engaged in the drama of power is utterly dependent on his beloved. In submission, the lover needs...

Quarrels and Tests

Most lovers mark the occasion of their first quarrel. In the beginning of the love affair they marvel at the absence of acrimony or argument, assuming this to be the natural result of their perfect harmony. After the first quarrel, however, they breathe a sigh of relief. They have survived the threat of mutual anger, and their love has been proved strong. They reassure one another that fights or the lack of them have nothing to do with harmony at worst they are counterpoint in the music of...

Love That Enriches Love That Endures

Good love is love that ultimately promotes the lover's sense of self-worth and liberates him from the strictures of self. Whether that love lasts the millennium is not the overriding consideration. In making this very point, Theodor Reik borrowed a politician's witticism Speeches to be immortal need not be eternal. Auden beautifully celebrates the transcendence of love, even while acknowledging its transience, in a poem that opens with the lines Lay your sleeping head, my love, Human on my...

Experience and Consequences

E very love story is different, its beginning unique, its outcome unforeseeable. For some love is the saving grace it endures and prospers. For many more, passionate love modulates into affectionate bonding. For others, however, love is thoroughly unhappy. It may end in great pain for the lover who is rejected, in guilt for the lover who is doing the rejecting, or, even worse, it may not end at all for the lover who persists in an unrequited, obsessive love or a mutually destructive, tormenting...

Rehearsals For Love Crushes Infatuations Flirtations And Fantasies

As children continue to disengage from their parents, they idealize them less. But naturally their own self-worth shrinks in proportion to the devaluation of their parents, just as their earlier self-esteem swelled with identification with their then-esteemed parents. Ultimately, though, family romances are not an adequate substitute for the lost idealization of parents as they grow older, children come to fantasize themselves as the principals, not as mere dependents in need of better parents....

Ambivalent Surrender

There are those for whom the threats implicit in surrender are so great as to preclude falling in love. The fear of falling in love is usually rooted in early life experiences. If one's parents were experienced as too intrusive and one's autonomy only dearly won, a love of any kind may appear threatening, and romantic love in particular because of the surrender inherent in it which is experienced as either submission or a loss of autonomy. Such fears may effectively preclude the possibility of...

Enslavement And Masochism

In self-surrender in love, we understand the purpose, however roundabout and broadly defined, to be salvation or self-elevation. And even those for whom the experience of surrender is tinged with ambivalence may find it ultimately rewarding. In enslavement (obsessive self-destructive love or masochistic surrender or both) the goals may be the same, but the depth and insatiability of the need doom the yearning lover to almost inevitable defeat. Sometimes, too, the impulse to surrender can be...

The Transformational Potential Of Transference Love

It's well known that positive transference alone sometimes catalyzes radical change in patients, hence the term transference cure. Patients come into treatment and sometimes as a result of transference (and their dependency on, or identification with, their therapists) their symptoms disappear or the patients rapidly mobilize into life. However, analysts are at great pains to argue that such change is superficial, and that the symptoms may well reappear if treatment is interrupted. But this...

The Rejected Lover

Since realized love is experienced as an expansion of the self, it is not surprising that its loss is felt as a contraction and diminution. When the lover is rejected, the power implicit in union must give way to the vulnerability of the solitary self. Then the we that encompassed a world is reduced to the I that is but an atom. The uniqueness that the lover felt as a consequence of being in love vanishes and leaves him feeling depleted, worthless, his life voided of meaning. When one is...

The Aftermath Of Unhappy Love

Many loves end some sorrowfully, some painfully, and others bitterly. Nonetheless, for many unhappy lovers, the memory of the joy that was theirs, and the legacy of change that took place within themselves as a consequence of love, imbue the experience with value that endures long after the relationship has ended. Consequently, while love may end unhappily, this does not mean that the overall effects were necessarily negative. Some ultimately unsuccessful loves are growth-enhancing and...

Transference Love Falling In Love In Therapy

Even for those unacquainted with any of the tenets of psychoanalysis, it is common enough knowledge that people sometimes fall in love with the doctors or nurses who tend to their physical ills, thereby demonstrating the same proclivity as those patients who fall in love with their psychotherapists. In the movies, one thinks of (among others) Bette Davis in Dark Victory. She plays the role of a very spoiled rich young woman, stricken with mysterious fainting spells. During the course of her...

Unconventional Love

Love always elicits envy, and as a consequence frequently elicits disapproval as part of the attempt to discredit it. This disapproval is multiplied a hundredfold if the love in question is unusual or unconventional. Many observers of love, out of an exaggerated respect for conformity and conventionality, literally do not allow themselves to see (by which I mean register) certain enduring forms of love. If they do see them they devalue them, because such loves violate too many presumptions...

The Disenchanted Lover Falling Out Of Love

The lover, passionate though he may have been in the opening phase of a love affair, may fall out of love. Sometimes love simply seems to disappear. It fades and is replaced by apathy, boredom, or restlessness, if not resentment and rage. It can happen gradually or suddenly, as a result of recurring disappointments, with or without overt anger. Sometimes love fades for both lovers. People who think that such disenchantment is natural and inevitable, far from acknowledging the emptiness that can...

Envy And Desire

Walking alone, seeing the world go by in pairs, one can abruptly feel bereft, lonely, and disconsolate one feels envy and more, as though one suffered from some unnamed deficiency. Why not me Am I the only one alone One senses that one's full potential and pleasure can be realized only in love. If one is a partner in a perfunctory couple whose union never blossomed into love or whose love has long since faded, one may feel more than envy one may feel hopelessness or a bitter rage at having...

Women And Romance

Life's central romance, at least for many women, is the quest for an ideal love relationship. It is the only quest readily available to most women except for motherhood, and this generally though of course not always awaits pair bonding. The rewards of this feminine quest are elegantly stated by Rachel Brownstein in her book Becoming a Heroine The marriage plot most novels depend on is about finding validation of one's uniqueness and importance by being singled out among all other women by a...

Displacedincestuous Triangles

Displaced-incestuous triangles do not involve love or sex between members of the same family rather, two family members share the same lover either simultaneously or sequentially . Woody Allen's movie Hannah and Her Sisters was a virtual celebration of interlocking triangles and emotions. In the film, the two key triangles involve Hannah Mia Farrow , who is portrayed as happy, mature, and envied by her two sisters. Hannah's husband Michael Caine lusts after her beautiful and sexy sister Lee...

The Erotic Appeal Of The Rival And The Attraction To Couples

There is occasionally a shocking piece of self-discovery for participants in triangular love relationships a deep sexual attraction to their rivals. This may be manifested only in apparently inexplicable dream fragments or flash fantasies. The negative Oedipal complex and a homosexual longing for the rival often come into play in the context of love triangles. A masterful account of the complexities of triangular love can be found in Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being. In that...

Triangles And The Oedipus Complex

The profound pulls of the triangle exert constant pressure throughout the cycle of love. Lovers who come together originally through a desire unmediated by the presence of a third party, and who wish only to establish a glorious dyad, may still be vulnerable to the process of triangulation. Triangles are often invoked defensively to protect against the hazards of dyads. Either lover may be tempted to introduce a third person to escape the intensity of love, to fend off the threat of...

Splitobject Triangles

A married woman or man who takes a lover may only be indulging in a dalliance, in which case he or she may view it as irrelevant to the marriage. But when an adulterous affair becomes a passion rather than a diversion, a split-object triangle develops with a split in valuation between the spouse and the lover, the marriage and the affair. The spouse, if not actually loathed, comes to be seen as at the very least limited. The marriage, if not bad, is experienced as stultifying. The lover comes...

Rivalrous Triangles

In the early stages of romantic liaisons, when the loved one is either married to or significantly involved with someone else, the lover's obsessive preoccupation is nonetheless the same as that of other lovers, consisting primarily of thoughts about the beloved. But in such rival-rous triangles as these are by definition , an obsessive preoccupation with the rival may gradually come to compete with the erotic longing for the loved one. Both erotic longing and competition play a pivotal role in...

Pleasure And Love

Not only is the quest for love more complex than the pursuit of pleasure, but the nature of pleasure is itself complex and by no means self-evident. Because love does encompass pleasure, even if it is not defined by its pursuit, it is important to understand something of the nature of pleasure. For Freud, pleasure was a release from tension, particularly a sexual release, while pain was defined as frustration or the inability to release tension. This formulation, designated the pleasure...

Transcendence And Pain

The longing for wholeness, completeness, merger, and transcendence is the sorrowful heart of love sorrowful because it is a longing that can never be wholly satisfied. There is no ultimate remedy for our existential plight, but love is the search for such a remedy, and transcendence the only means of feeling we have achieved it. Passionate love seeks a transcendence akin to religious experience. The ideal of merger through love represents a potential solution to the central human problems of...

The Sense of Merger and Transcendence

Lovers may go beyond a sense of joint identity, may feel that they have in fact merged. Charles Williams said, Love you I am you, perhaps echoing Cathy's famous declaration, Nelly, I am Heathcliff. Lovers play on merging their names as a symbol of soulful merging. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, in their love letters written before their marriage, referred to themselves as WE, the W standing for Wallis and the E for Edward. I have friends who sign their correspondence Georgellen. The impulse...