Being a couple – the symbiotic phase

Finally, after the pressure of mating has dissipated and the butterflies in our stomach slowly fade away, we begin to focus increasingly on our partner.

No longer do we create the world around us from the enchanting awareness of our love, no longer does the world obey us, but rather it obeys our partner. And as always with the transition from the animistic-magical world to the mythical, we seek a god outside of ourselves. A person who we can look up to and who from now on will be responsible for the fate of our world.

If we were primarily responsible for the process of falling in love, in this next phase we become increasingly dependent on our partner. No longer do we engender our own feelings of happiness, no longer are we the magicians or creators of our universe; this responsibility is increasingly shifted to the other. More and more we come to depend on their charm and behavior, the way they look at us and touch us, for our happiness.

It is no longer we ourselves but rather our partner who determines how destiny’s stars shine down on us, and we suddenly find ourselves again caught in the beginnings of a net of dependency. At the beginning this is not uncomfortable, because our partner still attempts to discern our desires in our eyes. Nevertheless, it is already a dependency.

As long as we are occupied with collaborative projects such as children, a house, careers, etc., this dependency will not necessarily interfere; we are still working as a team. Our sex-lives will continue to diminish, but for many that is a welcome shift, as it had always been linked with stress and the pressure to perform, anyway.

But now we have reached a fork in the road. One path leads to a hostile, co-dependent relationship – with one partner hesitating increasingly to fill the needs and wishes of the other. The other path leads to a warm, connected relationship, in which a couple relates as friends more than husband and wife. Faced with this decision, many couples cannot decide for one or the other. They oscillate, which means that they fight bitterly and terrify each other, only to return later to each other’s arms, seeking comfort. They have not solved the conflict, however, and it will return some other day, or on the next vacation, each time more intensely, and causing greater damage.