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Anyone read The Dance of Intimacy? Is our dislike of SKids actually an intimacy blocker?

furkidsforme's picture

So I've been reading lately. A lot.

I recently re-read The Dance of Intimacy. In it, the author explores how people use relationship triangles in order to avoid stressful or anxiety laden issues in their life.

Example: Sue is the child of Dan and Mary. Dan is an alcoholic. Sue has problems dealing with her father Dan. The friction between Dan and Sue aligns Sue and her mother Mary in a stance of "what do we do about Dad". This alignment allows Sue to avoid her father. It also allows Mary to be close to Sue in partnership of not knowing how to handle alcoholic Dan. This stand off allows Dan to never have to confront his issues with his daughter.

But if Sue changed her position and said to herself that she can't fix Dad, and will stop trying, the triangle collapses. This is why people in triangles get upset when you change your behavior. If Sue steps out, then Mary must deal with Dan. And Dan must deal with Mary. And now Dan has to deal with Sue, as well.

I started to think... do I use my dislike for my SS as a buffer? Right now it is me disliking SS. DH tries to run interference and keep everyone happy. SS sits on the outside either impartial or unmoved. But if I quit with my emotional intensity toward SS, then by default I would have to deal with SS and my awkward relationship with him. And DH would have to deal with SS on his own as well. And worst yet... there would be no buffer to prevent DH and I from confronting our real issues, which actually are not SS at all.

Anyone follow? Thoughts?


furkidsforme's picture

True, the author does point out how each party gets something out of the triangle... but that seemed too hard to explain.

Of course Mary might never deal with Dan, but their friction would increase without Mary having Sue as her buffer zone to defuse her anxiety.

See, there is nothing really overtly "bad" about my SS. Sure, he's lazy and socially awkward and his hygiene sucks a little and he makes gross noises when he eats. His room is a pig stye. But he doesn't mouth off to me, act abusive, or pull serious crap. All in all, he's a basic average teen afflicted with some generalized lazy/entitled behaviors. No biggie.

Yet he GRATES MY NERVES. To a level that is inexplicable.

I think my disdain for him serves a purpose. It keeps DH and I polarized.

Shaman29's picture

There probably is something to that theory.

Before I disengaged, H and I had a common goal. However, after all the shit went down and I pulled away, the triangle collapsed and it became a them against me situation. The relationship I had with H completely fell apart, whereas his relationship with his kid blossomed.

Shaman29's picture

What we discovered in this last year of counseling was that H was making it about his kid and his assumption that I hated her.

The counselor pointed out I was trying to get him change how he was parenting his kid. That it was never about her, it was about him and how he was dealing with everything.

misSTEP's picture

There was one metaphor that really helped me in something I read long ago (sorry, can't remember the name or context):

It said that a marriage was like two people sailing a boat. Even if one of the two wanted things to remain the same, if YOU shifted what YOU were doing, it would force the other person to shift what THEY were doing.

Of course, it was a lot more involved than that but I know that this metaphor has helped me change certain frustrating aspects of my marriage. I think mainly because the focus was on ME and what I could change instead of me trying to force my DH to change, KWIM?

another step's picture

I think that logic assumes too much about social norms. Some of the posters on here do the same and they have been fortunate that it has worked for them but it has not for others - me included.

For example - in most households, if I stopped cleaning, the skids would get jumped on by their father to stop making such a mess, to clean up after themselves, or he would do it. Normal people do not live in filth and trash. But in our house, BM had trained them to think that living in a pig sty was totally normal. FH talked about how much he hated it - he was too embarrassed to ever have anyone come past the front door for years - and how he really liked that when it was just the two of us and the skids coming only EOWE, the house was kept nicely. But once we got them full time and there was no way I could keep up anymore, he did nothing. For a while he paid to have someone come in once a week but I would have to pick up so much crap just so that they could get in it was a weekly disaster. I could not do it anymore. Now when we have someone that has to come over I have to start cleaning days in advance and literally scream at him to get any help - just to avoid public humiliation.

Just because someone pulls back does not mean another person will step up and fill in the gap. Sometimes there is just a giant sucking black hole.