This week we're discussing all types of relationships: romantic, friend, and family. Yesterday Teri introduced us to the styles we can get into with our friends and family, and today I'm going to discuss what a romantic relationship looks like in each of these stages. If you happen to be in a romantic relationship, see if you can identify yourself in the following stages. Enmeshment- Every relationship starts off this way, and when you find your new boyfriend or girlfriend, this is the stage when you're "getting to know them". All the time talking, texting, emailing, & late nights getting to know what makes them tick. It feels as though you're inseparable, & at this stage, you really don't want to hang out with anyone else. But, slowly this stage will pass (which is normal) and some balance will start being restored in how much time you start spending together. However, if you find yourself or your mate wanting to continue that togetherness all the time, problems could start. You might feel guilty if you want alone time and feel that it's a battle anytime you want to spend any time with your friends, and/or you may find yourself arguing over your commitment to the relationship.
Emotionally Cutoff- Romantic relationships can get to a cutoff stage for various reasons. Sometimes it's natural for a relationship to have it's ups and downs, and feel cutoff for short period of times. Or more seriously, a couple has entered cutoff due to pain that has been experienced but is not being discussed, therefore it has created huge distance between a couple. For romantic relationships that are emotionally cutoff this can look like a couple who has surface communication, but nothing deeper. Talking about daily happenings, but not talking about what emotionally triggered them throughout the day, or their dreams, goals and fears. When this couple gets into a fight, they blame each other, which only distances them further apart. Alot of times we see Infidelity and Addiction occur when a relationship is in the cutoff stage. Secrets are very easy to keep when there isn't close, connected communication being shared.
Interdependent- Romantic relationships that have entered this stage have done so with alot of work, but also with alot of payoff! This couple has realized that they have to be open, honest and vulnerable in order to get their needs met, but also in order to have a healthy relationship. This couple recognized the need for relationships outside of their core relationship, and utilizes those friendships often. They respect each other's privacy, but in having "separateness", they do not have secrets (that's the key!). When conflict arises they take a "time-out" and become self-reflective in order to see the conflict clearly, then problem solve together.
As you can see, being in an Interdependent romantic relationship is the healthiest and has alot of rewards. Natalie & Joleen will discuss friendships & family relationships and how they look in each of these stages.
Written by: Tamara Portee MA, LMHC, LCAC
*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counselingat Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.