Love is Not a Power Game
I recently heard that in relationships that all arguments, tensions and breakdowns are based on one thing’ Do I Matter to You?’
The western world seems fuelled by one up man ship; who has what, owns what, whose thinner, sexier, richer, more successful, more intelligent or more popular. All of which strives to say ‘I’m better than you’ or ‘You’re not as good as me’.
When this is attitude is brought into a relationship the see/saw effect happens and the result is imbalance and an unhealthy cycle of behaviour can occur, as each individual looks outwardly for more power, to avoid feeling powerless.
Relationships built on this foundation and dynamic are short lived, dramatic and painful to endure, but often the thrill is addictive and mistaken for love.
Human beings respond three ways to powerlessness. 1) Fighting: Getting angry, dominant and aggressive. 2) Flight: Running way, staying away from intimacy/commitment, use avoidance, 3) Freeze: Stuck in a victim position. These responses are not mutually exclusive and the result is same; pushing other people away, isolation and therefore pushing love away.
Every client I have ever worked with from children to adults reply the same to the feeling of powerlessness – they feel vulnerable(often reflected as unsafe) and it is this which underpins the above responses, a feeling which can be extremely scary and primal, to varying degrees for each individual.
Power and vulnerability go hand in hand, as does fear and courage.
We are born powerless and it is our journey in life to move from relying on external control and power over us, as children, to having internal personal power and self control; like the cub growing into the fierce lion, whose immense strength and power is contained and conserved for necessity; food and protection.
Without that progression to internal power and acceptance of vulnerability, we cannot as individuals open the door to true love and we stay locked in a battle for power with others around us.
Research shows that long-term healthy couple relationships are based on an equality, tolerance, acceptance and respect. These are not the qualities of power–play.
Love is not a power game, so instead of looking outwardly and asking ‘do I matter to you? , perhaps it is best to first look inwardly and ask ‘do I matter to me?’
And then as the old adage goes; ‘Treat others how you want to be treated.’
Related articles from our experts
Cate Campbell MA, MBACP (Accred), MCOSRT (Accred), MAFT23rd March, 2017
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Margery Parsons, d.c.t.p., UKCP reg.20th March, 2017
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