One of the very real concerns that we have once the honeymoon phase begins to fade or we abruptly come face to face with real life and normality where we discover that the other party isn’t “perfect” or that we have to learn how to communicate, be vulnerable and deal with life’s inevitables (conflict, criticism, disappointment and receiving no), is worrying about whether this person is going to be able to do things in the way that we need, want and expect. There can also be this fear that they might expect us to do things ‘their way’. We might wonder, What if I have to be vulnerable by being open to allowing this person to get to know me (and me them) and in essence, showing up in this relationship? This all feels a bit too risky. It feels like unknown territory and on some level, we fear that if we don’t ‘manage’ things that we will be opening ourselves up to being someone or doing something that reminds us of a painful part of our past that we don’t want to go back to. If we are very reliant on being in control, even if it’s pseudo control, we will enter into what boils down to a power struggle where it becomes about one of us conceding to the other.
We know that not only do we not want to go ‘back there’ but that we’re also afraid of stepping outside of our comfort zone by engaging with the person from a place of vulnerability and building a relationship. Compromise? Pah! What if I compromise and they’re screwing me over or they screw me over at some other point?
The funny thing is that we try to act all cool in the honeymoon period but once things start getting real, which can be signaled by us feeling afraid of normality or things developing, we start to clamp down and dig our heels in. I know I’ve been all nice and non-confrontational but you do know that you need to do things in the way that I expect (even though I might not directly express it) because this is how I feel safe and validated, right?
What if ‘their way’, i.e. outside of our comfort zone, rules and predictions, will hurt us?
What we need to acknowledge when we get into a fight for supremacy is that that’s not a relationship; that’s all ego. We’re fighting for that person to have our needs met while at the same time being resistant to doing things ‘their way’ because if we are entirely honest with ourselves, we see ‘their way’ whether it is an accurate assessment or not, as being reflective of the behaviour of someone from our past, likely a parent/caregiver, or a sibling, bully, or someone else who did not meet our needs. Our perception of ‘their way’ may be based on conscious or subconscious recognition that we are engaging with our ‘type’ and/or that we are recreating a pattern of a situation in attempt to be right this time.
We want to right the wrongs of the past.