Intimate relationships foment regression. In that, lies their beauty and their curse. The safer we feel, the more we let down our guard, make ourselves vulnerable, and open ourselves to the other. We make contact with deeply buried parts of ourselves and allow our partners to see our insecurities and longings. In some cases, the responses we get provide the salve needed to allay our fears and meet our needs. In other cases, our unresolved material triggers the same in our partners and their responses retraumatize us. Left unchecked, couples can find themselves inadvertently engaging in a dynamic that repeats the hurts of the past rather than resolves. Interrupting this pattern involves recognizing that the pain we feel may be evoked by an interaction in the present but carries the weight of the past. It also involves stepping back and approaching our partner with sympathy and curiosity rather than defensiveness when they direct their pain toward us.
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