Part 2 – Affairs and Attractions

Issue 111

“Attractions and Affairs”
The Vulnerable Child in Relationship


Hal and Sidra Stone

The  vulnerable  child,  as we have said before,  is one of the most essential ingredients  in a truly  complete relationship,for the child is the basis of our deepest intimacy. There may be many wonderful points  of contact  between two people. The  couple  may  be  able to  function  beautifully  together physically, emotionally, and professionally, but, without the child, something indefinable is missing, and there is always a yearning for something more. It is this yearning

The vulnerable child, from our perspective,  is the gateway to the soul. If one’s child is not available, soul contact is very difficult with another human being.

There are many times in any relationship when the vulnerable  child withdraws.  This  is natural  in the ebb and flow of life. When  bonding patterns  develop,  as shown in previous chapters, the child usually runs for cover, and there is a feeling of emptiness  and loss. The  reconnection  to our vulnerable  child and its reappearance  in the relationship is always a time for rejoicing.

However,  it is a most unusual vulnerable child who can tolerate  the pain of a  partner who has other  relationships. The inner child is extremely sensitive. Although we may not know that  our  partner  is having an affair,  our  vulnerable child  senses  it  at  some  level and automatically  begins  a process of withdrawal from the partner.  It is this astounding sensitivity that the child brings to the relationship, and it is the same sensitivity that causes it to withdraw.  Our rational mind may explain our fears or doubts away, but it cannot convince the child.

It follows that if we want a truly deep commitment and if we want the child to remain a part of our relationship, we will have to find some way to assure its safety. Whether or not this can be done in a non-monogamous  relationship is the real question.  Our experience so far is that the vulnerable child cannot  handle the reality of the other  person  having other partners,  particularly  when those relationships  become sexual. At this point,  the child withdraws  at some level.

We must remember  that the child is unimpressed with theories.  It wants to be loved and it wants to feel safe. From its point of view, we can have any kind of non-monogamous relationship we wish. It, however, will not participate. 

Once the child disappears,  there are a variety of ways in which we can make things all right. We can shift over to the sexual track and decide that two can play this game; in this way we open ourselves to different  sexual experiences.  We can identify with our rational mind and develop a philosophy and rationale  as to why monogamy  destroys  relationships and  prevents  growth.   Whatever  subpersonalities   we shift into, the child will be gone.

Staying  with the child means staying with one’s pain. This is the hardest thing in the world to do. But staying with the pain might truly make things right again by keeping the vulnerable child in the relationship and allowing the relationship to continue its teaching. This does not mean, however, that we become victims, suffering mightily at our betrayal by our partner.  It simply means that we stay with the process and see where it will lead us.