What is the problem?
People who are in a relationship very often fall into the trap of passion. It occurs when one partner is emotionally invested in a relationship more than the other. Moreover, the dependence becomes reverse: the more the first partner loves, the less the second.
The more loving partner is in the weak position, and the less loving partner is in the strong position.
Dean Delis, a clinical psychologist and bestselling author of The Passion Paradox, explains why relationships break down. He created his theory on the basis of personal experience and clinical practice, examples from which he devotes a considerable number of pages of his book.
Why does one partner become strong and the other weak?
One of the partners takes a position of weakness when he is afraid of being rejected. Usually at the beginning of a relationship, both of them experience such feelings. But the weaker ones try harder to please: preen, give expensive gifts, arrange surprises, strive to please, are actively interested in everything that the partner is interested in. Their goal is to gain emotional power over the other half.
And if they succeed, then the roles change: a strong partner falls in love more and becomes weaker himself. And the one who was initially weak becomes strong, because there is no one to win and his passion begins to fade. As a typical example of the paradox of passion, the author cites the relationship between Anna Karenina and Vronsky.
As Dean Delis notes, the passion trap can manifest itself at any stage in the development of a relationship, when one partner becomes addicted, and the other begins to annoy and repel such behavior.
Is there a passion trap in every relationship?
Relationships are not static, but dynamic. They are constantly changing, which means that there is a risk of falling into a trap. The first feelings of falling in love in people are the same: an excited state and “loss of head”.
A person is in euphoria, and the fear of being rejected is the main cause of obsession and jealousy. Until a person is convinced of the love of a partner, he experiences impotence, passion inflames him, he counts the minutes between meetings and pays attention to the slightest shades of behavior.
A declaration of love is a very risky step, and it is ventured when a partner gives a number of encouraging hints. If he responded to the confession and both partners are confident in each other’s love, harmonious relationships begin.
Why does disharmony occur?
Reality is far from fairy tales. A frequent companion of romantic attachment is the fear of rejection. This fear is fueled by disharmony in relationships, which can arise for various reasons.
An imbalance occurs if one of the partners is more attractive to the other: more attractive, cheerful, self-confident, erudite, successful, talented, young, rich.
The second factor that the author names is situational disharmony, when there are differences in the way of life of the wife and husband (for example, the birth of a child). And another reason is the disharmony of individual characteristics, when one partner is more restrained, and the second is ardent.
These are the factors that lead to the trap. Since we are all different, and our life is unpredictable, the emergence of a passion trap in a relationship becomes a very likely event.
What distinguishes the strong side in a relationship?
The strong decide whether to continue the connection. The weak are rarely the first to leave – only if the strong force them with psychological pressure.
But, as the author notes, strong does not mean manipulator or scoundrel. Often strong people want relationships to work out well. They feel guilt, despair, embarrassment, self-doubt. They do not understand why their feelings are cooling down. And they often mask the cooling with excuses. The weakening of the feelings of the strong can lead to a deterioration in the appearance and intellect of the weak or its inconsistency with the ideas of the partner.
But it happens that the strong physically and psychologically mock the weak. And this is a frequent theme of many literary works and films. In addition, the strong side in the relationship is subject to what the author calls the “syndrome of commitment and uncertainty.”
What is the syndrome of obligations and uncertainty?
In a mild form, the syndrome is expressed in the unwillingness of the strong to bind oneself by marriage. Often the strong side offers the weak to live together in order to delay the decision. The novelty of the situation may give momentum to the relationship, but soon the honeymoon will end and the uncertainty will return.
Sometimes relationships reach marriage, but divorce will always loom on the horizon. A strong partner will weigh the pros and cons of marriage and constantly toss and turn. He can go on treason, and then offer his partner some time to live separately. At the same time, the strong side takes all the blame, convincing the weak side that it will be better for everyone.
As the author writes, an attempt to live separately leads to the following scenarios: a strong side creates a successful marriage with a new partner; the strong side becomes weak with a new partner, the relationship collapses and the unfortunate strong side tries to return to the old relationship. There is another option when the strong side rushes about and the former partner after parting becomes desirable. After returning to the old partner, the new one becomes desirable.
Do people always play only one role in a relationship?
No. After the end of relations with the weak, the strong are in danger of becoming one. Being in a relationship, a strong person does not worry about anything. But if he has to win a new partner, then he will make mistakes that are characteristic of the weak side. As a result of this unpleasant experience, he may try to return to his weak partner.
Usually the weak wait a long time for the strong back. And if he returns, such a couple has a second honeymoon and the sides are evened out.
But the strong again may have a syndrome of obligations and uncertainty. As the author notes, at this stage, the couple would do well to visit a psychotherapist.
After separation, a strong person can reconcile and accept his weak partner with all the shortcomings, because comfort, reliability and friendly relations are more important.
What is important to know about weak partners?
Falling in love with a partner more and more, a weak partner exaggerates the advantages of a strong one and does not attach importance to shortcomings. He may not pay attention to alarm bells for a long time. Of course, over time, he begins to notice that the partner does not love him as much as he does, but the weak one tries to change the situation in his usual way – pleasing even more. His efforts backfire. As the author notes, the right action, on the contrary, is to relax and be natural.
Sooner or later, the weak realizes that his labors do not bring the desired result and begins to get angry.
But fearing to push away the partner with anger, the weak one constantly suppresses his negative emotions. Soon, resentment can turn into hostility and hatred. Rage and helplessness can also cause excessive jealousy.
In the struggle for the attention of a partner, the weak go to any lengths. Some use strangers to make the strong jealous. Others have the idea of having a child in order to bind a partner to themselves. Still others lose patience and raise their hand to their partner.
What happens to the weak when the relationship ends?
At the end of the relationship, the weak one feels as if his whole world has collapsed. He projects his feelings onto the outside world, finds refuge in sad films and music, feels a kindred spirit in any person who understands him.
Filling the void with normal daily activities contributes to the restoration of the rejected weak. Also, the void is often filled with spirituality and charity, shopping, mindless eating or, conversely, starvation, alcohol, drugs.
An effective way to fill the void is the “I’ll prove it to him” technique.
As the author notes, he was the cause of a large number of very successful careers. The weak hope that if they reach heights in work and receive a certain social status, they will make the strong regret leaving.
There are those who seek cruel retribution. Causing pain to the offender becomes the only goal of the weak. They spread dirty rumors, they discredit at work, they terrorize by phone, they use children – they make the ex-partner’s life unbearable. Sometimes an emotional breakdown leads to suicide attempts. But often it is diving to the very bottom that allows you to push off and start living anew.
It turns out that it cannot be said that only the strong behave badly in relationships? Is the weak also to blame?
Yes. The author himself went to psychotherapy sessions in the role of a strong and weak partner and realized that usually the strong are considered bad and sympathize with the weak, because he wants to improve relations and get closer. But getting closer is the most difficult work for the strong. The author believes that the distant partner is the same victim of the dynamics of relations as his other half.
Both partners must work and change, not just the strong one.
We need to change the imbalanced relationship dynamics: the weak must become more independent and attractive in order to awaken the dormant feelings of the strong. But the author insists that it is not worth saving the union at any cost. Some relationships are not worth reviving.
How to improve relationships?
The key to a good relationship is good communication. Silence or constant squabbles cannot bring a partner closer to you. Anger, criticism, resentment, demands further alienate people from each other.
To minimize resentment, it is necessary to drop the accusations. Pre-analyze what you want to say. You can rehearse some lines in advance.
Don’t get into figuring out who started first, leave questions of love aside. Because you will either get a dishonest answer or one that you don’t like. Discussion will be more effective if you stop worrying about how much someone loves whom. Discuss negative emotions, empathize with each other. Joke to lighten the mood. Make a plan of action in different situations.
What exactly should the weak do?
Seek support from friends and family members; be kind to yourself and stay in touch with reality by stating things like “I will never get married and will always be single”, “I am not interested”, “I am too fat/tall/bald/old”.
Set a reasonable distance, stop pleasing and cheating on your partner. You need to change yourself, trying to change another is a futile exercise. Take inventory of your talents and develop your strengths.
What exactly should a strong man do?
Take your sense of leadership for granted and don’t self-flagellate. Get rid of guilt, control anger, try to look at your partner objectively. Use a trial intimacy strategy as opposed to a trial separation so that the weak one gains confidence and control over emotions, and the strong one can assess whether he can be closer to a partner.
Share little things, think over signs of love that are of particular importance to a partner. Talk about feelings and fears. Spending time with a partner is not quantitative, but qualitative. Don’t make conditions and be patient.
What if nothing comes out?
Even if you work hard on relationships and go to specialists, it is not always possible to reanimate relationships. If you have come to the conclusion that a divorce or separation is inevitable, the author advises you to do it with confidence for the sake of your own happiness and the happiness of your partner. If there are children in the family, do not use them as allies, do not blame your partner with children, do not make them participants in conflicts.
Is this book worth reading?
If you feel that your relationship is skewed, read this book. It will provide not only rich food for thought, but also concrete advice on how to improve relations. It contains many examples from the author’s practice with a detailed and step-by-step description of how to do and how not to do it.
If you have teenage children in your family, we recommend that they read this book so that they can avoid stupid mistakes in the future. The work is written in simple language, with examples and repetitions of the main idea. It was first published back in 1990 and has earned a lot of positive feedback from readers.
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