Issue 107 –
Where Has Love Gone Part 12
Sacrificing One’s Selves to Make the Relationship Work
Hal & Sidra Stone
Mark and Ben are in love. They are not identified as gay; they just happen to be in a gay relationship. Mark is older and a fairly successful actor in commercials. Ben is younger and has managed only minor parts. He goes from one “cattle call” to another and is usually disappointed in his attempts to break into the field.
As Ben’s lack of success becomes more and more pronounced, he gets increasingly jealous of Mark. They fight viciously and make up with equal passion. They really want to be together. Eventually, however, Ben begins to feel too vulnerable and miserable, and so he gives up and takes over as homemaker in the house. He sacrifices his ambitions and his power side (eventually disowning them) and identifies completely with his nurturing mother self.
We might note here that it is common for members of either sex to have selves that are of the opposite sex. This is not confined to people who are gay. Mark’s inner child loves Ben’s nurturing mother and is truly grateful for being so well cared for. Thus, Mark disowns his vulnerability and submissiveness and Ben disowns his power.
Basically, Mark now has all the power in the relationship; he is the dominant father to Ben’s submissive son, while Ben’s nurturing mother cares for his needy son. There are occasional outbursts and then Mark will buy Ben an extravagant gift to atone for having all the power. As a thoughtful (if dominant) father, he also tones down the reports of his successes so as not to hurt Ben or make him jealous. Ben and Mark are fully bonded and extremely careful of one another’s feelings.
Ben still occasionally goes out on auditions, and one day he lands a really good part that brings him some fame in the world of commercials. This immediately breaks the positive father I son bonding that has been operating so smoothly. The negative feelings that have been buried or avoided come to the fore and the negative father/son bonding takes over.
Mark’s dominant father rails at Ben’s submissive son and wants him to continue to care for the house. Ben’s judgmental father then attacks Mark’s guilty son and tells him, “You don’t really want me to make it. You just want me all for yourself.” Mark and Ben fight all the time and nobody wants to take care of the house.
Here, despite the unpleasantness of the situation, is an opportunity to grow. Each man could own up to his own vulnerability and each could begin to take care of his own inner child rather than require the other to do so. Each could own up to his own need for success and why, at a very deep level, this is important for his feeling of well-being in the world. Each could own up to his own selfish self that really does want to be taken care of completely, or his competitive self that wants to be the bigger star. It would not be pleasant, but each would learn about himself and each would grow.
But this is not what happens. Both men are now fully identified with their power selves; each man wants to be dominant and each wishes the other to care for his inner child by taking over the housework. There is no awareness; neither has used the relationship as a teacher. In this situation, the subpersonalities have taken over and are driving the cars, each completely attached to the outcome of every interaction. The name of this game is power and control.
This time, it is Mark’s vulnerability that wins out. He is getting older and he is desperately afraid of losing Ben. Now it is Mark who stays at home and takes care of the house. He gives up his need for success, he sacrifices his craft, he disowns his selfish and instinctual energies, and he becomes the submissive son/nurturing mother to Ben.
Ben is now the one to identify with power and disown submissiveness. We see this so often in a bonded relationship. Regardless of the sex of the individuals, both are willing to sacrifice parts of themselves, to disown them completely, allowing the partner to carry the disowned energy, in order to keep the relationship smooth. Although this may well look like a conscious decision, it is most likely, as it was in this instance, a decision made by the primary selves, usually made with great rationality, to protect the inner child.
It is interesting to note that when a decision comes out of the bonding pattern such as this, there is no aware ego, and therefore there is no real intimacy. If there were, Mark might say something like, “You know, there is a part of me that is truly jealous of you.
That part liked being the big shot in the relationship and likes to be the star. But there’s another part that appreciates all that you’ve been through and all you’ve done for me and is really happy for your success. I really love you a lot. Sometimes I’m afraid that now that you’re doing well you might leave me and I really don’t want that to happen, so I try to think of things to make you happy.
There’s another part of me that wants you to feel guilty and miserable that you’ve surpassed me. It’s really a lot of turmoil and I don’t exactly know what to do. I do know, though, that I want to be with you.”
Again, we are not saying what anybody should do. Many such bonded relationships continue quite pleasantly for a lifetime. In addition to this, it is quite possible that Mark would have come to a similar decision if he had not been operating from his submissive son, but from his aware ego. But, as we have said before, it is not the decision itself, but who makes the decision, that is important in terms of one’s own individual evolution of consciousness. In the case of Mark and Ben, neither learned from the other; they just traded places in the very same bonding pattern.