Relationships: Dependency and Ambivalence (Part 1)
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: claudia anderson
6th May, 20130 Comments
When men and women fall in love, they temporarily step back into the world of the 'Mother'. This is the time when a couple uses 'babytalk', call each other pet names with fondness, hold hands, proudly and unashamedly display affection in public, kiss things better, and stroke away any upset or anguish. It is a bonding period, where no one else seems to matter, and there are not enough hours in the day to spend together.
At this stage the man feels as if he can do anything with this woman at his side. For her she feels, possibly for the first time in her life, that she is relating to, and getting close to a man, thinking that he feels the same way too - she feels completeness. But for the man it is a form of regression, regressing back to the 'Mother' - the taste of this warm, comforting, sometimes smothering world is both alluring and terrifying. It is this that awakens for him, what he gave up as a child, (his Mother, to his Father, so that he could become a man) but now can have again, but at the price of dependency.
Dependency is a strong need, to attach yourself to another. Some psychotherapists would say that this is done in order to make up for inadequate attachments in early life; the more inadequate, the more greater obsession and quest for the 'dream' relationship. Which might explain why some people 'need' to be in a relationship, and yet are surprised by the continual disappointments. When the honeymoon period ends, the feeling of unity evaporates, where each starts to see the other in a new uncomfortable light.
Where the man, abruptly decides that he wants to resume his bachelor lifestyle, whilst she forgets to praise his every achievement, or put his emotional needs before her own. Even if she hasn't done anything wrong, if he did not have a stable early childhood, i.e. a rather absent Mother, then as the relationship develops, he may expect more and more demonstrations of love from her, expecting her to recompense the lack of love he had from his Mother in childhood. Which can transform into sexual expectations beyond fulfilment. This is where the first element of ambivalence sets in.
From a very young age a child learns to be ambivalent about the person who most usually takes care of him or her - in most cases is the Mother. This develops into adulthood and creates the fear of being controlled by the person they depend upon. Although the female partner might try to accommodate his sudden sexual needs and demands, in response he 'mirrors' ways in which he 'gave up' his Mother; he'll mirror this with his partner. Throwing himself back into his work, sporting activities and male companionship, where he will be welcomed with open arms.
The opposite of this is a man who has a very close, smothering relationship with his Mother. Being in a committed relationship with a 'Mummy's Boy' can cause great distress to some partners, and can wreck any chance of a good sexual relationship. Women go through similar feelings towards their fathers but he is always the attractive 'other' To be 'Daddy's Girl' (unless it had been an abusive relationship) she can retain a relationship with him, and compete with Mother.
Related articles from our experts
- Healthy relationships require effort and hard work
Noel Bell MA, PG Dip Psych, UKCP15th April, 2018
- My partner is in denial
Greg Savva, Counselling in Twickenham & Whitton, Masters Degree, UKCP,12th April, 2018
- The trouble with holidays
Denise Spinney3rd April, 2018
Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.