Some engage on tiptoe, others live under the domination of the green-eyed monster, as Shakespeare depicted jealousy, others still dare to breathe so as not to scare their beloved. It can be a great fear, which invades, returns, ravages. Or a little girl, who whispers, nibbles, doze. In any case, she is there, present, inseparable from love, in spite of the denials and the pretty stories that one tells to appease oneself.
“In love, fears are proportional to expectations, explains Vincent Estellon, professor of clinical psychopathology at the Paul-Valéry University in Montpellier and author of the Sex-Addicts and Limit States (PUF,” Que sais-je? “). The loving partner always has a complementary object function in the couple. Unconsciously or not, we expect him to understand us, to guess, to narcissistically support us, to soothe our anxieties or to welcome our anger. “
Accept the risk
Especially when the future is uncertain, the world is rumbling, there is the impression that social and family ties are disintegrating more and more quickly. “I receive many young adults in consultation, says the psychologist and psychoanalyst Catherine Audibert, author among others of The Incapacity to be alone (Payot). And I’m amazed how much of them are anxious and dread to suffer by making the wrong choice of partner. Among the older patients, other fears are expressed: to remain alone, to be manipulated, to dominate, to be deceived … We forget that love is always a risk, because all love contains in itself the risk of the loss. That’s why fear and love are inseparable, and that’s what we also have to accept to be able to love. “
The practices of therapists are full of stories of disappointment, betrayal that end in a “no one will take me more” painful and sometimes shameful. These are also stories in the form of missed appointments; encounters where one is careful not to give oneself for fear of being “stolen”; too “reasonable” choices of partners; imaginary amorous projections that avoid us facing our reality and that of the other; sabotage, sometimes conscious, to “escape happiness for fear that he will run away”, as Jane Birkin sang on the words of Serge Gainsbourg.
All these stories take root in our first emotional bonds. And this past is a dividing line, certainly not always clear nor always immediately identifiable, between security and emotional insecurity. The more the past is marked by loss, abandonment, neglect or intrusion and manipulation, the less secure are the attachments. “The first configuration of love ties is knit in childhood, Vincent Estellon details. What is tied into family affective bonds will be the narcissistic base on which the child will develop. From there will be born, or not, the feeling that one is kind, respectable and that one can trust. “
Catherine Audibert recalls that, according to British pediatrician and psychoanalyst Donald W. Winnicott, the child’s ability to be alone in feeling safe (neither abandoned nor “encroached”) largely determines how he will like it later. “Without this security, the fear of loneliness brings about a relationship to the other of the order of need rather than of desire; on the other hand, fear of being invaded provokes avoidance and flight behavior. “
Being clear with his past
The greater the anxiety of abandonment or intrusion, the less the inner emotional security will be solid. “Hence the interest of knowing where we are with its past, says Yves Mairesse, gestalt-therapist. Because what is not identified is replayed indefinitely in our affective relationships. In each encounter, there are implicit and explicit elements. It is in the implicit that will replay the issues of attachment unfinished. And what is complex and paradoxical is that we will both seek to reinterpret a past, as unsatisfactory or painful as it is, to try to free ourselves from it. Hence the need to look at how we have been watched, loved, jostled or secured to identify what is repeated in our emotional present. “
(Re) find the strength in itself
For Yves Mairesse, it is also essential “to identify our gaps and our needs, and to accept to face them”. Without the knowledge of our vulnerability, no security possible. First, because the fact of identifying our fears makes it possible not to be totally under their yoke; second, because self-awareness is the only grain of sand that can stop the machine from repeating negative scenarios.
What type of partner am I looking for or fleeing? What is my problematic behavior (for me or for the relationship), recurrent (excessive jealousy, emotional or sexual dependence, ruptures chosen or undergone in series …)? So many questions that put us in position of subject, so force. They can be asked as part of a therapeutic work, but not only.
Isabelle, 39, who has long been, in her words, a ” serialclad, “decided to beef up his emotional autonomy as one muscled his body, with will and discipline. “Rather than rushing on to a new” bandage partner “, I thought about what I liked to do, about the people I loved to hang out with, and made myself a solo wellness program. I practiced for a year; at first I took on myself, it was about weaning, and then I took pleasure in doing me good. I have been with a great man for a year, it’s everyone at home and it suits me very well for now. Others decide, once the link is established, to share their fears with their partner. “To dare to say them, as soon as you have a little confidence in him, and welcome his own, reinforce the feeling of intimacy, therefore of security,” says Yves Mairesse,
Weave a link to two
Catherine Audibert also believes in the magic of dating, the intelligence of the couple that can soothe fears, help heal the wounds of the past. This is the story of Louise, 53 years old: “Before Christian, my third husband, I knew only the balance of power; love was war. His kindness, his generosity disarmed me, literally. This is the first time that I experience trust. Not in me, not in him, but in us, and that makes all the difference. In fact, keeping in mind that the bond weaves together and learning to position oneself as a subject are still the surest means of reducing fear, of oneself and of the other, to one’s smallest share.
Four attachment styles
In Attachment Theory, developed by psychiatrist and psychoanalyst John Bowlby (1907-1990) after the work of pediatrician and psychoanalyst Donald W. Winnicott (1896-1971), and enriched by psychologist Mary Ainsworth (1913-1999) , are the main affective attachment profiles. Everyone to recognize his own.
The secure attachment. The emotions are not invasive or repressed, the subject is autonomous (he has the capacity to be alone while being quiet and having fun). He is receptive to the demands of his partner, whom he does not see as a threat or an obligation.
Insecure attachment detached or avoiding. Avoidance of intimacy, difficulty confiding, expressing emotions, soliciting others (help or advice). Partners are generally perceived as not interested or unavailable.
Insecure attachment preoccupied or anxious. Anxiety dominates, jealousy gnaws, the subject is hyperemotif, and centered on his problems or fears (anxiety of loneliness, abandonment, emotional and / or sexual dependence).
The fearful attachment. The subject is lonely out of mistrust, for fear of intimacy, but he needs to be reassured. He is extremely vulnerable to rejection and has trouble asserting himself.
Four security markers
The conflict is assumed. It is not recurrent, it is neither fled nor provoked to intimidate or to dominate the other. He does not slip.
The needs and criticisms are expressed. With clarity and respect for the other. They are not subject to bargaining or guilt.
The absence of the other does not trigger anxiety. Everyone has his interests, his relationships, his moments for himself, and derives pleasure and comfort.
Jealousy is reasonable and reasoned. Yes to the little sting that tickles the desire or suspicion objectively legitimate (validated by a trusted third party), beware of invasive, obsessive and threatening jealousy.