18 December 2008
One of my students wrote a paper entitled, "The Chemistry of True Love," and, about the same time, a therapist friend recommended a book that looks at romantic attractiion. Harville Hendrix argues that attraction is based on:
1. bio-logic: principles of physical attraction, phernomes, survival, etc.
2. "exchange": looking for those more or less our "equals."
3. "persona": "What will it do to my sense of self if I am seen with this person?"
But even moreso, we are attracted to people with character traits (often the negative ones) of our parents.
1. We enter our love relationships bearing emotional scars from childhood, and 2. that we unwittingly choose mates who resemble our caretakers, the very people who contributed to our wounding in the first place.
Our wold brain, trapped in the eternal now and having only a dim awareness of the outside world, is trying to re-create the environment of childhood. And the reason the old brain is trying to resurrect the past is not a matter of habit or blind compulsion but of a compelling need to heal old childhood wounds... You fell in love because your old brain had your partner confused with your parents! Your old brain believed that it had finally found the ideal candidate to make up for the psychological and emotional damage you expereinced in childhood." (14)
Fear of engulfment or abandonment? Fuser or Isolater? We have, Hendrix argues, three selves:
1. lost self -- parts of your being you had to repress because of the demands of society.
2. false self -- facade you erected in order to fill the void created by this repression and by a lack of adequate nurturing.
3. disowned self -- negative parts of your false self that met with disapproval and were therefore denied.
He points out that dreams reveal all these projections and mixings togethers of people/transference, and I've actually noticed that my dreams do just that -- freaky.
Then, he explores the stages of romantic attraction as the phenomenon of recognition, timelessness, reunification, and necessity. He argues that that whole sense of knowing someone for a long time, having known them before, etc...is because we've confused that person with our parents, and when we realize that our new partner won't bring us whole-ness, we realize we are those hurt kids/incomplete selves. (48-51)
When we manipulate the situation by performing or pretending to be a person that can meet this partner's needs, we are "projective identifying," or lying (54).
When we expect our partner to read our mind or meet all our needs, we are being little children!
A fascinating book for sure. I haven't finished it yet, but I know my lost self is hoping for completion, my false self will pretend to not care to protect myself, and my disowned self is going to say something caustic. HA!