LOVING FROM A SURVIVAL ORIENTED EGO
- By holding on to hurt and anger. Because it tends to be immature in its reactions, your ego thinks holding on to hurt and anger is a good thing. It believes this is a valid way to protect itself from future hurts. But the reality is that it keeps you stuck in the past, unable to forgive. It also creates a constant wedge of recycled hurt and anger between you and the partner you want to love.
- By making you dependent. Your insecure ego likes to depend on someone else, because that makes it feel secure. But when you’re dependent you are more likely to be possessive and jealous. Clinging to another person to make yourself feel safe is fine if you are a small child. When you do it as an adult it makes people run in the other direction.
- By always wanting to be in control. The other side of being dependent is the need to be right and in control. Having control is a main way your insecure ego attempts to feel safe. But needing to be right and in control has a direct effect on your partner; it leaves him or her feeling small and smothered. Not many people enjoy living in a rigid dictatorship. Eventually they revolt in one way or another. It is the same way in a relationship; control brings resentment and loss of respect. Both are toxic to genuine intimacy.
- By keeping you stuck in “me thinking.” When your mind is full of “me, me, me” it creates a nonstop chorus of your likes, dislikes, fears, doubts, desires, and on and on. Dwelling on all of this inner chatter keeps you preoccupied and not very present. This preoccupation creates a distance between you and your partner. She senses that you’re not really there with her. She may feel shut out, slighted, or rejected, and her wounded ego may drive her reactions. She lets you know one way or another that she is disappointed, maybe even annoyed with you. Then you, in turn, meet her annoyance with your own, and the two of you are off on another tit for tat argument.
- By keeping you stuck in self protection. Self protection is another major part of a survival mentality. So many people have had bad experiences in close relationships, either as children or as adults, that they adopt a defensive posture to avoid being hurt. They hold back a piece of themselves so they are not totally vulnerable. This makes sense in the early stages of dating and getting to know someone. But once you’re married or in a long-term committed relationship, holding back for self protection can become self defeating. It makes the love you are offering feel partial and incomplete. It sets up the likelihood that you’ll get the same in return.
Holding back a part of yourself damages the sense of trust between you and your partner. Without rock-solid trust, each of you becomes less open and more guarded. You each disclose less and less of your selves, stifling spontaneity, which is crucial to keeping “in love” passion alive.
What happens next is that boredom and a sense of loneliness begin to feel routine. As you slowly drift apart those original feelings of closeness, excitement, and sexual passion begin to diminish. And if you’re like the majority of people who don’t know that staying passionately “in love” is possible, you succumb to believing that losing such feelings is just a natural course of events.
Ironically, using a survival mindset to hold back a part of yourself in a love relationship doesn't safeguard your freedom or your individuality at all. On the contrary, when you hold back you create confusion and mistrust between you and your partner. A partner who does not understand your holding back behavior will take it personally and may become afraid and suspicious. This will certainly constrict your freedom and cramp your individuality. But you will have created it.
Because they are genuine, open, and based on unquestioned trust, soul mate relationships create an environment in which partners can be strongly independent individuals who are at the same time closely connected mentally, emotionally, and sexually.
As you can see, your ego and its survival mentality is not going to help you share a soul mate kind of love. In fact, you can be fairly certain that it will keep you self absorbed, untrusting, possessive, and clueless about what your partner really needs from you. Here are the stories of two couples that show how a survival mentality interferes with love, caring, and real intimacy.