How much of a “self” do you have in a relationship?
Do you ever wonder why it is so easy for some people to lose themselves when they are in an intimate relationship? On the other hand, why do some people cutoff from everyone who they have conflicts with?
I think Murray Bowen’s concept of “differentiation” can help provide some insights into this.
When we first enter the world, we basically have no “self”. We rely entirely on others to take care of us, both our physical and emotional needs.
As we get older, we begin the process of “differentiation” where we start to develop more of a “self”. How much of a “self” we can develop is largely dependent on our family relationships during our childhood and adolescent years.
By the time we reach adulthood, our “self” is pretty much set. So unless we make long-term efforts to work on it, it doesn’t change anymore.
When we are LESS differentiated, our relationships with other people tend to be fused together or distant. In other words, we either rely heavily on others to meet our needs or we need to cutoff from those who we have conflicts with in order to preserve our “self”.
When we are MORE differentiated, we are connected yet separate. This means that even when conflicts or disagreements arise, we can still be ourselves AND be emotionally connected with those around us at the same time.
Thinking about your own relationships with other people, how differentiated do you think you are? Comment down below!
Until next time!
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