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How does your style of eye contact impact relationship satisfaction?

Posted Sep 01 2011 12:28am

Do you enjoy having your partner know what you are thinking and feeling just by looking at you, or do you feel that you are not allowed to have a mind of your own?

Are you locked into looking at one other for long periods intently focused on the other one? Do you take your cues and make responses to match your partner and vice versa rather than share your personal take on things?

Depending on your answer, your experience of intimacy is at stake!

psychotherapy for relationship problems West Los Angeles 

closeness – coming from the same stem with separate blooms

photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

 

Sally felt she was as close to her husband as identical twins

Sally listened carefully to her partner’s http://losangeleswestsidetherapy.com/intimacy/partner-choice/ remarks about what he liked, didn’t care for, dreamed of and valued. She filed them away for safe keeping. Every now and again she would bring them out and match her wishes, likes and dislikes and system of values with those of her husband. She wanted to be one with him, to feel close in every respect. Then she could talk of them as “we…” in a seamless fashion.

 When they were out at family gatherings, parties and vacations, she spoke for them both when the waiter came to take an order or when her mother in law asked how Joaquin enjoyed his new job. Sally asked him questions and answered them before he could even form the words in his mouth. The questions were superfluous since in her mind she already ‘knew’ everything he was thinking, feeling and wanting.

 relationship advice psychotherapy for couples west los angeles

blooms moving further away from each other to breathe!

photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

 

Joaquin drifted away from Sally to feel human in his own right

Sometimes Joaquin enjoyed having a wife that knew him so well. Those times came around when he wasn’t in the mood to spell it out, and didn’t want to work at explaining himself. But most of the time he was irritated and angry. He felt robbed of his own mind. Joaquin often tried to assert himself and deny Sally’s statements about him to protect his sense of autonomy and individuality.

 

“You are wrong about that!”

“Actually I’m not thinking that I all!”

“No I don’t feel like eating right now!”

“I’m not upset about losing my golf game; I wish you would check instead of just making assumptions about what I am feeling!”

 

Statements like those above would erupt out of Joaquin’s mouth when Sally behaved as if their thoughts and feelings were a mirror image of one another.

 

psychotherapy for relationship problems in intimacy west los angeles                                                 psychotherapy for relationship problems west los angeles

mirror image of each other ?                                             or sharing a strong root with individual stems?

photographs copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

 

 

Sally thought intimacy was merging: Joaquin thought closeness meant sharing

That’s when Joaquin wouldn’t feel like making love.

That’s when Joaquin wanted to get away from his wife and spend time with friends.

That’s when Joaquin kept silent and distant so that Sally couldn’t read some expression on his face and decide what was going on inside him, without asking him.

Intimacy between Sally and Joaquin was constricting when she spoke for him and made her feelings his and vice versa. Joaquin had to disengage to breathe freely and feel himself as a separate person with a mind and voice of his own.

 

Pattern of gaze eye predicts satisfying versus negative relationship experiences

Research in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,2011 indicates that when partners look at each other for long periods and cannot control their gazes to focus back in on themselves, they are more likely to be experiencing a false sense of intimacy or

“pseudocloseness, or enmeshment!”

 That means they experienced no difference between themselves as separate people. Tension and fear about being swallowed up whole abounded, making intimacy less positive. Intimate relations felt more like traps than expressions of love and belonging. There was less relationship satisfaction and more defensiveness to protect the uniqueness of identity and experience.

 

 relationship advice psychotherapy for couples West Los Angeles

blooms facing each other have false sense of closeness

photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

 

Gazing back and forth with your partner predicts satisfying healthy intimacy

Couples who expressed the greatest satisfaction and enjoyed healthy intimacy were those who attended to both their partners and themselves by shifting their eye gaze back and forth during an interaction. Partners who managed to include both people in the interaction by gazing towards and away from the other person kept a healthy balance between their personal unique feelings, and those that belonged to their partner. Each partner felt autonomous and free to express their individuality without threatening the couple relationship.

Closeness that allows for each member of a couple to be individual people in their own right, with different tastes, thoughts and feelings is a more secure and healthy style of intimacy . Each person feels accepted and loved for being themselves, rather than loved only if they are the exact clone of the other. There is a place for “I” statements and there is a place for “we” statements.

 Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

 

Listen to internet radio with DrX Jeanette Raymond on Blog Talk Radio

 

Disclaimer: this article is for informational and educative purposes only. There is no liability on the part of Dr. Raymond for any reactions you may have while reading the article or implementing the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Raymond.

 

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