Issue 110 –
Part 1 – Affairs and Attractions
Hal & Sidra Stone
There is a most memorable interchange in the Kazantzakis novel, Zorba the Greek. Zorba is talking to the narrator of the book, a rational writer who is fearful about getting into a relationship with the deliciously attractive village widow. He says: “You don’t want any trouble! And pray, what do you want, then? Life is trouble, death, no.”
This pretty much sums up the question of attractions and affairs in primary relationship. If we are alive, we are going to be attracted to people on many different levels. We may be drawn physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, or any combination of the above. How we handle these attractions is one of the most complex issues of primary relationship.
So, we are bound to agree with Zorba. Life is trouble; death is not. You will see, however, how a knowledge of the selves and of bonding patterns can help you to navigate in these particularly difficult waters and how these, too, can help you to use your relationships as teachers.
To begin with, our different selves feel very differently from one another when it comes to our attractions and affairs. Our sexual and lustful selves are generally not at all monogamous; they are frequently attracted to other partners, and they generally want to be sexually involved.
Our free spirit, in a similar fashion, wants to do whatever it wants to do whenever it wants to do it. It does not like to feel imprisoned by the boundaries of relationship.
Our selfish side wants to do what gives it pleasure.
Our rational and “New Age” sides may feel that jealousy is inappropriate, that personal freedom is everything, and for this reason anything that anyone does is just fine. For these selves, life should be excitingly spontaneous, free of constraints, and unconcerned with consequences.
On the other hand, our inner conservative wants us to have nothing to do with affairs and, depending on our background, might even be judgmental if there is any hint of attractions.
The responsible parts of ourselves will generally reject any kind of feeling or behavior that would even suggest that we might not be behaving responsibly in our primary relationship.
The good father and good mother also would have a difficult time with outside involvements.
We might also have a strong ethical side that rejects affairs, and possibly even a strong control side that refuses to allow any kind of attraction to be experienced.
We have only just begun to see how complicated this can become. In a wonderful Catch-22 fashion, our inner critic may criticize us because we are having affairs or even feeling attractions. It might, however, also criticize us because we are not feeling attractions or because we do not have the courage to have affairs.
We can even be drawn into affairs without feeling particularly attracted. Our pleaser can involve us in an affair for no other reason than the fact that he or she could not say no, because this might mean hurting the other person.
The son or daughter side of us might get involved to have someone take care of us, and the power side might get involved largely to dominate someone else.
Along with all of these is the driving power of our sexuality, amplified and supported by many of these different selves.
On yet another level, we might find ourselves drawn to someone who touches a very deep soul space in us or brings forth intense feelings of love that we have never experienced before.
Our inner child may feel sparked by someone outside of our primary relationship. Our magical child may be cued off by someone with a rich imagination and an intuitive nature. Our playful child might be met by someone who is capable of bringing out this part of ourselves.
Many of our selves, then, may be powerfully attracted to the idea of an affair. However, one of the most powerful selves that needs to be considered in the whole issue of attractions and affairs is the vulnerable child, and he or she has a whole different kind of experience of this matter.
A fine kettle of fish! How are any of us even to begin to deal with these intricacies of the human psyche? Where can we possibly turn to try to sort out these complex conflicts and begin to make decisions that truly represent who we are, rather than decisions that represent the automatic and unconscious responses of the primary selves who are currently running the show?
The more aware we are of these different selves, the more direct experience we have of them, the more real choice we have about what we do in life. It is not up to us to tell you how to live your life and what is the right or wrong way to behave. What we can say is that the more awareness and experience you have of who you are, the better off you will be in making these decisions, and the more you will be in control of your life and your environment.
Let us begin our examination of attractions and affairs from the standpoint of the vulnerable child. We have chosen to start with the child because of its very important place in relationship in general and primary relationship in particular.