Internationally acclaimed psychologist Harriet Lerner discusses how good relationships can be strengthened and difficult ones healed.
Dance of Intimacy presents specific steps for improving relationships where intimacy is challenged by too much distance, too much intensity, or simply too much pain....Continua
This book is about how to handle intimacy in important relationships. It contains some nice and sound systemic ideas but, dating back to 1989, it doesn't offer much new. Personally, I didn't like too much the numerous case studies that sometimes seemed repetitive to me, but as examples they surely helped to clarify the issue.
Harriet Lerner suggests a sane self-focused acceptance of difference in relationships and warns about enmeshment caused by too much responsibility (when we know exactly what the other person should do) or too little (when we can't survive without the other person).
Harriet Lerner arrives at the following statement:
"We can't navigate clearly in a relationship unless we can live without it."
I fully agree with her suggestions:
We shouldn't forget to work on our personal life plan and should not expect a relationship to fulfill our lives, because the relationship just couldn't carry such a weight.
That means self-focus.
That doesn't mean blaming, fighting or distancing as they express a high grade of enmeshment.
For example, cut offs between family members don't show a lack of feeling, but an intensity of feeling. Distancing is one way to manage strong discomfort.
Instead of only reacting on a high emotional level, we should try to keep cool and to take clear positions. It can cause anxiety to feel our separate self, but we have to be able to tolerate differences even in very close relationships. And when we want things to change, we can only start by changing ourselves.
The trick is to stay connected AND to define a clear self.
Harriet Lerner about triangles:
the author sees the triangle and not the dyad as the basic unit of human functioning, especially under stress.
Triangles often help to avoid the focus on the one-to-one relationship, they lower anxiety between two persons and often work at someone's expense: for example by focusing conversation on a third "incompetent" person:
"You can just measure the anxiety in a family system by the amount of gossip."