Passion and Relationships: A Psychotherapist Reflects – Guest Blog Post
If you meet somebody and your heart pounds, your hands shake, and your knees go weak, that's not the one. When you meet your soul mate you'l feel calm. No anxiety, no agitation.
When recently asked about passion I was struck by my internal response; cautious. I'm thinking about passion as depicted by popular American movies or the media. For example those selling perfume; so often passion is portrayed as instant, instinctive and a sudden passionate attraction. Passion of the type we are fed by the PR machines, or propaganda to give PR it's original name.
As a psychotherapist my consulting room is full of individuals or couples who have fallen passionately in love, married or set up home, and then things start to go wrong. The Games that we were completely unaware of when we meet gradually heighten and we realise that we can feel hurtful, or helpless with our significant other. As we all know, long-term, passion of a heightened nature is not sustainable. So how did that happen?
In Transactional Analysis Psychotherapy (TA) the founder Eric Berne has been quoted:
if your eyes meet across a crowded room, get the hell out there
or something very close. In his studies of human behaviour Berne noticed many of our relationships are based on intuition not intimacy. By intimacy Berne meant sharing conscious thoughts, feelings and behaviours, which could include sex, without fear of the others response. This naturally takes time.
How can you fall in love with someone you don't know?
Berne proposed that it's an intuitive attraction to someone who will play our favourite psychological Games with us that excites us. And this feels like passion, leading to a notion of the on. In TA, Gamee Theory proposes that Games need two people who take up different and complimentary positions and then proceed to engage in a series of exchanges with each other. This continues out of awareness until one person switches their position in relation to the other, and both parties end up feeling hurt of hurtful. This can be in a moment or over years before the switch occurs. Berne proposed that we are probably in some form of a psychological Game with many different people 80 % of the time.
So now what?
Well the good news is that anyone can come to understand their Games and how they play them; or how they misunderstood passion. The goal of Transactional Analysis is to develop and heighten your capacity for intimacy, spontaneity and awareness. What I've come to understand is that this is much more rewarding, and certainly longer lasting than the notion of passion we are fed.
Helen Davies is a UKCP registered Psychotherapist, Supervisor and Trainer. She runs a private practice working with adults, couples and groups in West Sussex and North West Surrey. She is a visiting lecturer in Transactional Analysis Psychotherapy at various colleges. Helen supervises trainee and qualified practitioners of varying modalities including complimentary health practitioners.