Does your relationship feel a little stagnant? Like you’re just going through the motions, day after day? Did it start after a moment of real, meaningful connection of love and commitment? One day, you’re starting something truly meaningful together, and the next, it all starts to take a backseat, to become a habit more than a conscious act of loving one another?
If so, you might have formed a fantasy bond with your partner, using the idea of loving them and being loved by them as a coping mechanism for your insecurities. It might sound harmless at first, but it has a deeper impact than you might think.
A fantasy bond is between you and your partner based on the illusion of connection. Often, a real emotional connection with someone is frightening; it demands vulnerability on both your parts. A fantasy bond replaces that emotional connection with the idea of it, the idea of love without forcing you to engage in the vulnerability that comes with it. It’s a form of self-protection that appears after a significant moment in your relationship. Usually, a fantasy bond starts forming as a defense mechanism when something happens that hints at a deeper connection, like moving in together. But knowing what a fantasy bond is doesn’t mean you know how to spot one, and it’s important to know the signs.
Spotting the Signs
Take a moment to think about your relationship with your partner. Do you find that you’re having trouble communicating? Do you feel like the affection is waning or gone, or it’s out of duty or mindless routine when it does exist? Conversely, are your everyday routines hidden behind façades of closeness?
Do you find that you and your partner act as if you are the same person? You start using “we” instead of “I,” and you start losing your independence altogether? Do you find that you default into different roles when you’re together? Maybe you’re the funny one, and your partner is the responsible one. You’re the cook, and they’re the cleaner. You’re the driver, and they’re the gardener.
And, most importantly, do you feel empty in the relationship? Do you repeat the same things daily without ever feeling any real closeness with your partner or connection? If so, you might have formed a fantasy bond with them.
A fantasy bond might not sound harmful. After all, it’s an involuntary defense mechanism that protects you from getting hurt by someone you care about. How could anyone blame you for developing one? But the truth is, fantasy bonds are harmful.
They hurt your relationship with your partner by preventing you from being vulnerable with each other. You can’t form a real connection. Instead, you’re forced to settle for something lackluster and monotonous. You’ll dismiss your own needs if they’re not the same as the needs of The Unit: the needs of you and your partner. You’ll lose your independence and your sense of self, and there is one word to describe that: harmful.
Breaking the Bond
Fortunately, it is possible to break a fantasy bond, but it isn’t easy. Once you’ve noticed that you have formed a fantasy bond with your partner, you can consciously decide to be vulnerable with them. Sit down and have difficult conversations. Regain your independence and your sense of self. Learn to be vulnerable, to form real connections.
And if you’re not sure where to begin, then make an appointment at Integrative Psychotherapy Group. We can help you regain your footing and navigate this difficult situation you’ve found yourself in. Things will look up, and you’ll learn how to form real connections again. All you have to do is take the first step.