Faux relationships ... feasible or fickle?
Dec 08, 2011 (DoOver.com - McClatchy-Tribune News Service via COMTEX) --
A very close acquaintance of mine recently confided that he was participating in a "faux relationship." If, like me, you'd like some clarification, in simple terms: He doesn't want to be in a relationship, his partner doesn't want to be in a relationship, yet both are in what most people would consider a relationship.
The two are dating exclusively, go on vacations together and attend important occasions with one another. Still, both cling to the notion that they are not, and do not, want to be in a relationship. Welcome to the non-relationship relationship _ the faux relationship. Can a relationship that begins with a faux foundation blossom into something genuine? Or, like many a string of faux pearls, remain pretty to look at, but artificial to the core?
A relationship by any other name would smell as sweet
In other non-Shakespearean words, does it really matter what we call a relationship (Monogamous, Friend's With Benefits, Open Relationships, etc)? Perhaps it more important "to understand that relationships are what the two people in them make them to be," says relationship expert Brenda Della Casa, and author of "Cinderella Was a Liar." "It can be hard for more traditional types to accept that two people can be in a 'relationship' that has a different set of rules, but if it works for the two people in it, that's what is most important," she says. Difficulty arises in the faux relationship just as with any other relationship, when the "rules" dilute or alter. Still, Della Casa explains that, "As long as they are open, honest and respectful of one another and themselves, these situations can work fine _ for a short period of time."
Faulty faux relationship formula
Honesty may be the best policy when it comes to relationships, but what happens when the policy is modified?
"Feelings change (moment to moment)," says Beverly Hills celebrity doctor, author and psychotherapist Dr. Fran Walfish. "A faux relationship can begin on clear and mutually acceptable terms, but as time progresses one partner may find his or her feelings deepening or vice versa."
Another fissure in the faux relationship formula occurs when an individual (knowingly or unknowingly) masks his or her true desire for a faux relationship. Basically, an individual conveys to his partner that he doesn't want to be in a relationship, but inwardly truly does. Perhaps he has been hurt before, and therefore, feels that a faux relationship will protect him from harm.
This sort of behavior can become problematic if the individual's actions are counterintuitive to his words; he becomes jealous if his partner dates others, he wants to cohabitate with his partner or demands her full time and attention. Or, "If someone says 'I don't want to be in a committed relationship' to someone else," says Della Casa. "What they really may be saying is, 'I want to keep you as an option, but I don't want to make any efforts and if someone better comes along or I get bored, I want an easy out.'"
"I would say under these circumstances," Walfish says, "the individual should seek the help of a professional to better understand the conflict in which he is functioning."
Fee-Fi-Faux-Fum, this relationship appears rather glum
For those like my friend, already in the midst of a non-relationship relationship, what might indicate the faux relationship is flailing _ or failing? According to Walfish, one partner may begin to desire increased quantity and quality of contact and closeness, more so than the other partner. If there is a breakdown in communication and the needs of one or both partners is being ignored or dismissed, this may indicate the relationship is heading south.
"These disappointments need to be talked about," says Walfish. "Usually in a faux relationship the partner whose commitment is minimal, or faux, pulls back. The other is left with a deep lonely feeling."
Not every faux relationship is subject to faux pas
Della Casa brings up a valid point, "Placing a blanket statement over everyone in these relationships and claiming they are insecure, in denial or defected isn't fair."
She elaborates that all of us have our own set of issues, regardless of our preferred relationship model.
"That said, it's more likely that someone with these kinds of issues would opt for a relationship that was easier and offered benefits without any of the work," says Della Casa. "It's possible for deeper relationships to develop out of these kinds of situations, although perhaps unlikely given the beginning of the relationship doesn't quite mesh with the organic unfolding of a traditional relationship."
Regardless of the title or syntax you attach to your relationship, Walfish provides the reminder that, "The lasting key in any real relationships is mutual commitment to working out conflicts and differences by hanging in there with good communication skills. This means tolerating hearing uncomfortable feelings from our partners without attacking, collapsing, or rushing to judgment or fast repair," and, adds Walfish, "Talking is the glue that holds relationships together."
Read more at DoOver.com, the online community for the 850,000 women who divorce each year.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune News Service.
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