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What Kind of Relationship Are You In? 1


We are all looking for something. But sometimes there are things in our lives that block us from receiving what we need. There are times when we enter a relationship unintentionally with the wrong motives. Some enter into relationships seeking for the other person to fix what they feel is wrong in them. Some people seek relationships for validation. Others enter into relationships because they do not want to be alone.

Whatever the case may be; being able to identify what kind of relationship you are in or have been prone to be in will help you to understand the why's of your relationship. And why there are those times that things just do not seem to work out the way you hoped or thought they would or should.

Five Dominant Patterns in Relationships

In a typology devised by Carmen Lynch, M.F.C.C., a couples and family therapist, and Victor Daniels, a Professor of Psychology, they define ten kinds of relationships broken down into two sub groups of “dominant” and “collateral” patterns. Dominant pattern relationships have a tendency to last longer than collateral relationships.

1. Survival Relationships. This type of relationship exists when partners feel like they can't make it on their own. Relationships are made out of emotional starvation;almost anyone available will do. The survival involved may be physical as well as emotional, including the basics of finding shelter, eating, working, and paying bills.

There is very little shared interests in this type of relationship. One or both parties may tend to cling desperately. This tends to lead to a blurred sense of personal boundaries, lending itself to physical and emotional abuse. Believe it or not, people actually are getting something from this relationship: They'd rather be in this type of relationship than be alone.

2. Validation Relationships. A person may seek another's validation of his or her physical attractiveness, intellect, social status, sexuality, wealth, or some other attribute. In response to a sexually unsatisfying relationship, a person may choose a new partner with whom sexuality is central. Many teenagers and young adults who are looking for a sense of identity form relationships based on physical or sexual validation. The outside appearance is of utmost importance to validate the illusion of having a certain status or image that seems prominent.

These relationships are always a little insecure: "Does she like me, or not?" There are theatrics and acting-out designed to get the other person to pursue you. Since the partners are immature, there is enormous tension and constant testing: "Do you really love me?"

As the relationship continues, one person may continue to require validation while the other starts wanting something deeper. When this happens, both partners are apt to feel betrayed, empty, and angry.

3. Scripted Relationships. This common pattern often begins when both people are just out of high school or college. They seem to be "the perfect pair," fitting almost all the external criteria of what an appropriate mate should be like. The marriage involves living out their expectations for the roles they learned they were supposed to play. He has the "right" kind of job and she is the "right" kind of wife and they have the "right" kind of house or apartment or condo in the "right" place. Their families think it's the perfect match.

These relationships are intended to be for the long haul. They are often very child-focused. Everyone is getting raised at the same time: The parents are growing up while they're raising the children.

In these relationships differences often take the form of power struggles. Endless arguments develop about everything. A mistake one person made ten years ago is still brought up today.

4. Acceptance Relationships. In this particular relationship type, many of us thought we knew what we were getting into when we entered a relationship, including many people in the three categories above. In an acceptance relationship we trust, support and enjoy each other. And to a certain extent, we are ourselves. But there are still aspects of ourselves that remain under the surface, because we still just want to be accepted.

An accepted relationship can evolve from a previous type of relationship. For example: when our expectations are not exceeding and the differences between our interests and inclinations are not too widespread; a scripted relationship can evolve into an acceptance relationship. If we find that there's enough growth to keep us together and our insecurities allow for honest reassurances, then a validation relationship can evolve, as well, into an acceptance relationship.

5. Individuation-Acceptance Relationships. This type of relationship is based on the affirmation of each person's wants and needs, and respect for the other person's procedure of personal growth. It requires an appreciation and acknowledgment for each other's differences. People in this kind of relationship tend to appreciate and celebrate the differences or uniqueness of the other person, thereby widening then range of people they can possibly connect with. Sometimes the couple may look completely different or even opposites on the outside; inwardly they are very similar.

Can you identify with any of the types of relationships mentioned above?

Next week: Collateral Pattern Relationships

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Content copyright © 2013 by Ruthe McDonald. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Ruthe McDonald. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Ruthe McDonald for details.

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