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  • Which Of These 7 Love Systems Describes Your Relationship? (Part 2)

    In our last post we discussed renowned relationship expert, Margaret Paul, Ph.D.’s, theory of the different systems which direct and drive our relationships. In this post, we’ll be finishing up by examining the final four systems and taking a peak into Paul’s suggestions for how to overcome unhealthy relationship dynamics and move towards a healthier system.

    System 4: Dominating-resistant

    This system truly describes the meeting of opposites. One partner is overtly domineering and controlling while the other is staunchly resistant towards being controlled. This system can easily become a negative feedback loop when one or both partners feel threatened. The reason is because one partner’s defense mechanism ignites the defense mechanism of the other.

    System 5: Compliant-compliant

    In this system, both partners are people-pleasers and attempt to garner favor and approval from the other to “keep things afloat.” To outsiders, this relationship system can easily masquerade as a loving system—but there is almost always a caveat to the constant “giving” the partners engage in.

    And in practice, this system doesn’t have the chops necessary for real intimacy and longevity.

    System 6: Withdrawal-withdrawal

    Ever meet those people who just will not engage in a conflict? The ones who effectively “shut down.” This relationship system occurs when two Withdrawing partners come together. These relationships rarely last very long as it is very common for “withdrawers” to just cut their losses and move on.

    However, it’s important to note that one or both partners may not necessarily want to end the relationship and/or walk away. But neither feels safe being open and honest with the other and the built-up walls quickly become too large to scale.

    System 7: Loving

    The final system, and the one that most of us probably strive to attain, is the Loving system. This system arises when two partners who have taken the responsibility of loving themselves upon themselves comes together. They each want to become better and encourage their partner to do the same.

    It is a dynamic of mutual support and learning. Conflicts are usually resolved healthily with each partner taking something constructive from the disagreement. There is not domination, no compliance, and no withdrawal. Both partners remain open during the relationship and feel safe/secure sharing their feelings with each other.

    So how can we take an unhealthy relationship system and transform it into a loving system? Paul believes that recognizing and acknowledging the system you’re currently in (without judgment!) is a good place to start. In order to fix a problem, you need to identify the problem.