Psychological Self-Help

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Many books suggest building your interpersonal skills and
awareness that will increase your chances of finding intimacy and love
(Sills, 1987; Burns, 1985; Bradshaw, 1993). If nothing produces a
great relationship for you or if it just seems too much of a hassle, find
a good book about growth and fulfillment as a single person (Edwards
& Hoover, 1975). For the psychologically serious self-helper, I
recommend Hendrix (1992) who carefully guides you to explore your
unconscious needs from childhood that determine who you fall in love
with and the kinds of conflicts you have in love relationships. The
theory is that we select a lover who we think will meet our strong
unmet needs from childhood. Such a self-analysis is an arduous task
but worth doing before falling in love. Losing love can be one of life's
most painful events; it can be crushing to your self-esteem. If your
heart has been broken, refer to Baumeister & Wotman (1992) and to
the many other books cited in chapter 6. 
A relationship is like a dance: to stay close without stepping on each other's toes takes practice.
Harriet Goldhor Lerner, The Dance of Intimacy
Lerner (1989) has written several highly regarded books. Her The
Dance of Intimacy is mostly for women. It facilitates relating your
early family history to your current reaction to intimacy and makes
some cogent points. First, intimacy involves both separateness (being
our true selves and living our own lives) and connectedness (being in
love with and committed to another). It is a delicate balance; love
requires that we avoid too much distance and too much intensity
(over-focusing on changing, caring for, or depending on the partner).
Second, we are prone to polarize disagreements. For example, as
discussed under "unconscious factors" above, one partner may become
the "chaser" and the other the "escaper." This polarizes the issue (how
committed will we be?) in a very distorted way and keeps the two at
odds and stuck. Both partners have reasons to seek and avoid a
commitment, not just one on each side of the issue. That depolarized
reality should be admitted and discussed. Moreover, if other events
(past or present) are contributing to the "desperation" of the chaser or
the "cold feet" of the escapist, this should be admitted at least to
oneself and probably discussed. Open discussion would further clarify
the situation and help avoid over-focus on the single issue of
commitment. The chaser should also shift some energy to dealing with
his/her other goals and problems in life--and, in time, consider putting
a time limit on deciding about commitment. 
Third, and I think most importantly, Lerner says every lover should
have a life plan that does not require marriage (and certainly not
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