The emergence of conflicts and the fear of intimacy in couple relationships
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: P. Piero Dell'Anno, BA. MA. PgDip. BACP Reg.
4th April, 20130 Comments
The primary root of conflicts, in intimate relationships, is the fear associated with the loss of one's self or, to put it simpler, the fear associated with the loss of our identity. Fear is often an emotion that acts out of awareness, which means that we are unaware of both our fears and the way they are affecting our being in the relationship.
This fear is often rooted in our developmental and learning process as children. Somehow, we are in our intimate relationship today, the way we have experienced our closeness or distance, with our care givers in the past. Therefore, if the experience was frightening then, it is quite obvious, that as living organisms, we might have developed methods to creatively adjust to a risky environment, and as well all know creativity can be very creative...
It is somehow, quite possible that, in my present intimate experience: “I do not come any closer to you, as I am frightened to lose myself, this intimacy is too much for me. I am attracted and at the same time frightened by this intimacy. I want you and I need to be sure that you do not come too close. If we are too close I will disappear!"
If we are frightened to lose ourselves, if reducing the distance with the other is too risky, it is quite understandable why one might be at risk of letting the fears from the past ruling his/her intimate relationships in the present.
Somehow we develop an adaptive system, we creatively adjust in the present, so that we can still nourish our need of intimacy while, at the same time, we ensure that we do not lose our own self in a “excessive” proximity, vicinity with our partner.
This conflict, in intimate relationships, can manifests itself through a variety of manifestations, namely: a need for distance, the excessive use of power, the establishment of defensive barriers, a high level competition in the couple relationships, or others.
One way to bring down these defensive barriers or armor (which might sometimes manifests as body transformation) is possible in the here and now, through the resolution of our primary oedipal conflict. What does this mean? It means that in the present we can experiment new ways to stay together, by revisiting the past or by becoming aware of the emotions we experience while trying out a different closeness with our partners. Becoming aware of our emotions in the present, while in an intimate space, provides us with important information about the way we are or do not let ourself to be in intimacy.
Revisiting those fears in the present, helps us to understand and to find healthier ways of being in a relationship in the here and now. Becoming more intimate is possible through a dialogue with our partner. Manifesting our fears, sharing our feelings, expressing our needs can potentially help us to produce an unexpected novelty.
Once the fears are manifested in the relational field, they somehow lose their power. They will no longer support the idea and the unconscious belief affirming that: “if we become too close I might be at risk of disappearing, of losing myself”.
To conclude, I believe that are the unspoken emotions, whatever they are, that are at risk of sabotaging our intimate relationships. As someone once said; ”Fear is very seductive and attractive, do not go in the direction of your fears”.
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