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Handling a Fantasy Relationship

Chapter 12: Handling a Fantasy Relationship

Tools for Relationships

By: James J. Messina, Ph.D.

 

What is a fantasy relationship?

A fantasy relationship is:

  • One that exists solely in your imagination, as an ideal relationship for you.
  • One you prefer to relate to, describe, and require of those in relationships with you; however, the fantasy level of expectation is seldom met.
  • An unrealistic, unattainable entity you require others to meet in order for you to feel happy, content, and satisfied.
  • An escape, a sanctuary, and a refuge to which your mind can flee when you have problems, conflicts, or disappointments in a relationship.
  • Sometimes used to berate your current partner if your partner does not live up to the standards of your fantasy (even though you alone know those standards).
  • One used as a barometer or yardstick by which your current relationship is measured. Because the fantasy is so out of reach, the measurement given back is usually negative.
  • A daydream created because you are experiencing a painful, abusive, or neglectful relationship. By escaping into fantasy you avoid dealing with the problems. The tasks necessary to bring the relationship into reality are avoided.
  • More active in your subconscious than in your conscious mind. You may not be aware that it exists, yet it is used as if you were conscious of it as you measure your current relationship. It can be the root of your unhappiness with your real relationship.
  • A three-dimensional reality when you meet a person who matches some or all of your criteria for the fantasy. The object of your fantasy may enter a clandestine relationship of the mind, heart, or flesh (especially if you are married). This fantasy (or affair of mind, heart, or flesh) makes you acutely aware of how inadequate your current relationship is; even though the new person is neither attainable nor is there a future for the relationship.
  • An emotional block, intellectual barrier, or the actual immobilizer that keeps you from becoming committed to working out your current relationship(s).

How do you know if your are immobilized by a fantasy relationship?

If you are trying to make a current relationship healthier and happier for you and your partner, yet feel that you are stuck, consider the following factors to determine if a fantasy relationship is the emotional block:

  1. Do you blame your partner for real or imagined negligence?
  2. Is your partner giving you feedback that you are constantly giving double messages, damned if you do and damned if you don't ultimatums, saying one thing and meaning another?
  3. Are you chronically daydreaming about the way things should be in the relationship?
  4. Do you have a tendency to fly off the handle with every little annoying thing your partner does?
  5. Do you put your partner in the witness box as the defendant and become a prosecuting attorney asking leading, probing, demanding questions unmercifully?
  6. Are you chronically unhappy, depressed, and discouraged whenever you are in your partner's presence even when your partner is committed to trying to work things out with you?
  7. Are you finding it difficult to let go of the past mistakes, hurts, and misdeeds of your partner? Are you unable to forgive and forget?
  8. Do you resent having to repeat your wants, needs, and expectations for the relationship to your partner because you think your partner should already know and be aware of them?
  9. Do you seem to discount or ignore the small efforts at change made by your partner on behalf of the relationship?
  10. Just when you think you and your partner are going to make it do you find yourself slipping back or relapsing into angry outbursts and recriminations concerning a minor infraction or error, overreacting?

If you answered yes to one or more of the above questions, a fantasy relationship may be the root of your relationship problems.

 

What beliefs indicate that a fantasy relationship is present?

  • There is only one kind of person I'm meant to be with.
  • No one can ever meet or come up to my standards.
  • No one can understand what I want in a relationship. I am always misunderstood.
  • Most people are incapable of giving and receiving love.
  • No matter how hard I try, I am never able to find the perfect mate.
  • I am continuously disappointed by the men (women) who come into my life.
  • No matter how many changes she/he makes, she/he will never be able to make me fully happy.
  • I love my partner but she/he is just not made for me.
  • I've worked hard at this relationship, and I do not believe that my partner has put as much effort into it.
  • I've tried and tried to accept my partner the way she/he is, yet I am not turned on emotionally.
  • I believe that we have irreconcilable differences.
  • She/he should know what I need in this relationship.
  • I can never forgive my partner for what was done to me in the past.
  • It makes me so uncomfortable to be in the presence of my partner.
  • Why can't my partner understand what I am talking about?
  • Everything my partner does bugs me.
  • She/he must do these things intentionally just to hurt or bother me.
  • She/he never follows through on what I've asked her/him to do for me.
  • It is unsatisfying and unfulfilling to me to continue in this relationship.
  • No matter how hard my partner tries, she/he will never be what I need in a relationship.

What negative consequences can being unable to handle a fantasy relationship lead to?

If you do not handle your fantasy relationship by converting your expectations, ideals, and dreams into a the image of a realistic, healthy relationship you run the risk of:

  • Chronic depression
  • Inability to get into a lasting relationship
  • Inability to make a commitment to anyone in a relationship
  • One or more divorces
  • Relationships ending prematurely
  • Inability to let go of blaming the other
  • Inability to create a healing environment with your partner
  • Poor communication with your partner
  • Competition in your relationship
  • Chronic conflict, disagreements, and fights
  • Power struggle for control in your relationship
  • Lack of intimacy in your relationship
  • You and/or your partner becoming troubled persons in need of professional help
  • Emotional problems for you and/or your partner
  • Inability to accept your partner for who she/he is
  • Inability to have confidence in your ability to sustain a relationship
  • Stereotyping all members of the opposite sex or even the same sex.
  • Loss of trust in your partner
  • Chronic sense of insecurity
  • Inability to take a risk
  • Inability to overcome your fear of entering a relationship

What steps can be taken to handle a fantasy relationship?

 

Step 1: You must first decide what a fantasy relationship is before you can learn to handle one. Read the definitions of a fantasy relationship in the first section of this chapter, and answer these questions in your journal:

  • What is my definition of a fantasy relationship?
  • How are fantasy relationships related to irrational beliefs?
  • How are fantasy relationships related to the negative self-scripts people have about themselves?
  • How are fantasy relationships related to peoples' resistance to get help for their troubled relationships?
  • How are fantasy relationships related to peoples' lack of spirituality?

 

Step 2: Once you have a better understanding of what a fantasy relationship is, you can decide if you have one that is impeding the growth of a current relationship. Answer the following questions in your journal:

  • Who is a significant other in my life with whom I have difficulty sustaining a healthy relationship?
  • What are some signs of the lack of health in our relationship?
  • In reviewing the factors of immobilization in the second section of this chapter, which of them are present in my relationship indicating a fantasy relationship is at the root of the problems?
  • What beliefs do I hold that indicate that I have a fantasy relationship?
  • What negative consequences could occur in my current relationship if I am unable to handle this fantasy relationship?

 

Step 3: Once you have identified the presence of a fantasy relationship blocking growth in your current relationship, you are ready to proceed. Complete the following task:

Identifying my fantasy relationship

You will have the chance to detail your fantasy relationship in your journal. To help in your identification process, first get into a relaxed position, close your eyes, and spend at least thirty minutes visualizing your fantasy relationship. Once you have completed your visualization, proceed to describe it. The following questions should assist you:

  • Is the fantasy relationship a person or just concepts? If it is a person, describe the person in full detail as to looks, size, wealth, education, career, attitude, behavior, beliefs. If it is a concept, describe in detail what factors comprise the relationship.
  • In your description of the fantasy relationship, elaborate on how you are treated, how you are communicated with, how your feelings are dealt with. How much intimacy do you share? How understood are you? How much love, attention, caring, nurturing, nourishing, affection, praise, reinforcement do you receive?
  • In your description of the fantasy relationship elaborate on how the fantasy person acts. How does this person talk? How does this person show concern, attention, interest? How does this person let you know her/his wants, needs, and desires? How does this person handle problems, conflicts, disagreements, arguments? How does this person handle personal hygiene issues? (Does this person ever go to the bathroom?) How does this person handle the giving and receiving of love?
  • Describe how this fantasy person would handle the problems and concerns you are handling in your current relationship (as described in Step 2).
  • Describe how this fantasy person would relate to your idiosyncracies, weaknesses, faults, unique traits, bothersome habits, and human frailties.

Once you have completed describing your fantasy relationship the first time, go back and visualize the relationship again for another thirty minutes to be sure you have given a full description. Review your written description after your second thirty minute visualization; fill in any missing pieces.

 

Step 4: Once you are satisfied with the written description of your fantasy relationship, you are ready to proceed with the next activity.

Making my fantasy relationship more realistic

  • Review the written description of your fantasy relationship and record each irrational or unrealistic belief in your journal. Fill in (in a second column) a rational or realistic alternative for each of these items.
  • Review the written description of your fantasy relationship. Record each item reflecting a negative self-script of yours and identify the negative self-script. Write a rational, realistic alternative in a second column. Base these on a healthy, self-affirming script for you.
  • Review the written description of your fantasy relationship. Record those items that make you resistant to working out your problems with your significant other. For each of these items write an aspect of your significant other in a second column relating to the item you have difficulty accepting.
  • Quickly list all of the positive aspects that attracted you and still attract you to your partner. List the good points, qualities, attributes, talents, and positive characteristics. In reviewing this list, what makes you resistant to working out a healthy relationship?
  • In reviewing your resistance to the acceptance your significant other as she/he really is, and in reviewing how you are more willing to opt or hold out for the fantasy relationship, ask yourself the following questions:
  • Why is it so impossible to accept a person who does not fit into my ideal?
  • Why am I so adamant and determined that it must be my way or no way at all?
  • How willing am I to let God lead me to the acceptance of reality in life instead of fantasy?
  • How much of my problem is related to my inability to let go and let God lead me? What is blocking my faith, trust, and hope in God to lead me wisely?
  • How much of my problem is related to my stubborn belief that I alone know what's best for me, and that others, even God, had better butt out of my business?

Proceed to visualize the relationship with your significant other for thirty minutes. Look at it with a rational, positive, healthy, realistic, spiritual, and accepting attitude. Then fully describe your current relationship with a realistic appraisal of what is good and positive in it and what needs to be changed or altered so it can be nurtured into an ongoing, healthy relationship. Once you have recorded this description, spend another thirty minutes visualizing the relationship five years from now as a healthy, mutually supportive. Return to your written description and polish it up with items indicating a letting go of the past and letting God lead you both into the future.

 

Step 5:  Can you agree on a five year play toward developing a healthy, prosperous relationship? If not, return to Step 1 and repeat the steps, sharing answers and descriptions.