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  • Which Of These 7 Love Systems Describes Your Relationship? (Part 1)

    Margaret Paul, Ph.D., is a best-selling author, relationship expert, and Inner Bonding® facilitator. And she has a theory about relationships.

    “Every relationship has a system,” Paul declares. She is, of course, referring to the system by which the relationship operates. Sometimes, and ideally, the system will emerge from love, but probably more often, it arises from fear.

    The system transforms into “controlling” rather than “loving” when the motivating factor for behavior is fear. Paul believes that unhappiness in a relationship can be traced back to one of six different “controlling” relationship systems. And by carefully examining each one, you can work to change the trajectory of your relationship.

     

    System 1: Dominant-compliant

     

    These are one of the more common “controlling” relationship systems. DC relationships are when one partner (the Dominating one) uses anger, blame, judgment, threats, name-calling, disapproval, gaslighting, mean looks, or other intimidating and demeaning behaviors to enact control over their partners.

    The other partner (the Compliant one) tries to control the reception and avoidance of approval and disapproval, respectively, via compliance (read: people-pleasers). Meaning they essentially “give up” or “give in” using “pacifying explanations and defensiveness.”

    This dynamic usually results in Compliant partners becoming angry from the lack of reciprocity. Or with the Dominant partner getting bored with the Compliant partner.

     

    System 2: Dominant-dominant

     

    In this system, both partners attempt to control each other using domineering and manipulative means. Partners are usually very reactive and quick to blame the other for relationship and/or other problems.

    Emotions run high in this relationship system, and the intensity of arguments and fights is extremely exhausting for both partners.

     

    System 3: Dominating-withdrawal

     

    This system still describes a Dominant partner but now coupled with a Withdrawing partner. One who withholds their love and affection as punishment (and a covert form of control).

    Both partners tend to blame each other in this system. “If only she wasn’t so angry, I wouldn’t withdraw”. “If only he didn’t always shut me out, I wouldn’t be so angry”. The main problem in this system is that both partners have trouble loving themselves and freely expressing their love to others.

    In our next post we’ll finish up by exploring Margaret Paul’s last 4 relationship systems and her recommendations for how to transition from an unhealthy system to a healthier one.