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Though these may all seem like positive attributes of an intimate relationship, placing a priority on form over substance is a key destroyer of any close relationship.
People who engage in a fantasy bond value routine over spontaneity and safety over passion.
What turns our heart-racing enthusiasm for another person to boredom and dissatisfaction?
In order to identify the wedge that’s driving couples apart, it’s helpful to understand the concept of the “fantasy bond.” As the major principle of a comprehensive psychological theory developed by my father, psychologist and author Robert Firestone, the “fantasy bond” describes a way of relating that serves as a substitute for a truly loving relationship As my father has written of the fantasy bond, “This illusion of connection and closeness allows [a couple] to maintain an imagination of love and loving, while preserving emotional distance.” As one woman who was going through a divorce after six years of marriage said, “Growing up I was terrified of being alone, but I also knew that I was afraid of being close to another person.
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We start to see the person as an extension of ourselves, and within that framework, we lose some of that “chemistry” that drew us to them.Some chalk it up to evolved differences, a slow growing apart, or sheer familiarity.The wave of “deadness” that can submerge a relationship after the first thrilling months or years have caused many couples to lose hope, and even look elsewhere for the excitement of newfound intimacy.In a sense, my marriage solved my problem: My husband was physically ‘there,’ so I didn’t have to be afraid of being alone anymore, and I acted in ways that kept him at a distance that I could tolerate emotionally.” The state of physical closeness and emotional distance is what characterizes a fantasy bond.
This bond is formed when sincere feelings of love, respect, and attraction are replaced with imaginings of security, connectedness and protection.They go through the motions of being together or involved but without bringing the energy, independence, and affection that once colored their relationship.