The first concept that I am going to talk about in the second section of my blog is part of the chapter
8 in the book, which develops about the communication climate. The concept that I am interested into is Autonomy/Connection. This is one of the three relational dialectics that have been identified by researchers. Relational dialectics are ``opposing forces, or tensions, that are normal in relationships`` (p. 200). As related in the book, the most central and continuous friction in most close relationships arises from the opposing needs for autonomy and connection. Basically, this concept explains that we all experience tension between the want to be independent, and the desire to be close to others in our relationships. Both autonomy and closeness are natural human needs; the idea is to conserve our individuality, and at the mean time, to nurture connections.
To me, this concept is the opposition between union and individuality. Humans need to keep an autonomous identity and to do have their own space. However, they are also looking for closeness with their partners, and to have joint interests. This tension is part of friendship as well as in romantic relationships, and is totally usual. To have a successful communication climate in our relationships, we have to be aware of this tension and to smartly deal with it. It’s important not to spend too much time together, neither to spend too much time apart to avoid the lack of commitment.
The Autonomy/Connection tension has captured my attention because it makes me think about one couple that I know well. One of my friends, Melissa, is a very independent girl. She likes to do her own thing, to have time for herself, and to hang out with her girlfriends. On the other hand, her boyfriend, Jonathan, is a true lover. He likes to feel connected with her partner. This tension was part of their couple and leads them to breakout because the two of them has different needs: Melissa felt suffocating, and Jonathan felt unloved. However, after having spent time on their own, they realized that this opposition was natural and that they could work on it. After having talk in depth about it, they came back together and learned to deal with their differences by finding the right balance. Today, they are a very happy couple!
This picture, I think, is a very good representation of that relational dialectic. The couple is separated by a wall, which can represent their individuality, but are also searching for getting close to one another.
I also found an article that explains why spending time apart can save relationships in the long run. Have a look at it, it’s interesting! =)