Dependence on a Reflected Sense of Self = I am who I am in your eyes. I am not sure who I am without seeing myself in your eyes (or those of other people in my life). Because you are important to me, I need you to make me feel positive about myself. To prove your love for me, that will become your job.
Emotional Fusion = Emotional dependence. I need you to feel a certain way so that I can feel a certain way. However I feel, it is vulnerable to change based on what you feel, or what I think you feel. You do the same with me. That is the fusion.
Conflict = I will make you feel the way I want you to feel so that I can feel the way I want to feel. I may do this by making you do something you don’t want to do, or by making you feel a way you don’t want to feel.
Distance= I can’t tolerate feeling the way you make me feel, so I have to get away from you.
Manipulation = Like conflict, but “behind the back” or covert.
Normal Marital Sadism = You didn’t give me the Reflected Sense of Self I count on you for, and I’ll get you back for that. I can do it directly (“You’re a jerk”), or indirectly (Sorry, I just forgot to mail that letter for you…). NMS can be done with lectures, silent treatment, badmouthing to friends and family, lack of sexual interest, depression, addiction, overspending, and anything else I can imagine doing that I know will upset my partner. I can do it by refusing to admit that I ever do it! I can stop acting out my NMS by heightening my awareness of when I do it; when I’m angry and not caring about your needs, feelings, etc.
The opposite of a Reflected Sense of Self, a Solid Sense of Self is when I know who I am whatever is going on around me. It’s my faith in my fundamental worthiness and value and ability to grow. It’s my ability to be close to you even when you are not happy with me, or when I can’t help you. It’s the part of me that doesn’t change just because there’s pressure to do so (No, I won’t have a drink because I’m driving and, yes, I do still listen to Barry Manilow). My Solid Sense of Self enables me to choose you, not to need you to love me.
For more about these amazing concepts, see www.passionatemarriage.com.