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Fraudulent Lovers - 12/5/2007

     Are you a fraudulent lover?   To find out, answer the following questions.  Have your partner take the test for you while you take it for him.  That way, you’ll see how he perceives the way you love, compared to your own perceptions. A comparison of answers could help you discover the ways in which you’re a fraudulent lover and pinpoint unrewarding behaviors that you need to mitigate or eliminate.

1. Are you insecure, deferring to your lover’s every wish?  

2. Do you seek his/her constant approval?

3. Do you avoid saying what you truly think and, instead, try to say what you think they want you to?

4. Do you “buy love” by doing things you really don’t want to do?

5. Do you do more for someone else than he/she can ever possibly do in return?

6. Do you agree with others, rather than voicing your own opinion?

7. Do you feel ignored if your spouse or date indulges in a long conversation with a member of the opposite sex?

8. Do you get jealous and bristle if your partner touches someone else or gives them a hug?

9. Do you resent the attention your spouse directs toward someone else when you think it is more intense than the attention directed toward you?

10. Do you pout and use the silent treatment when you feel unloved?

11. Do you refuse to join in potentially enjoyable activities in an effort to create guilt in others?

12. Is sex dissatisfying to the point that you agree to have it even when you don’t want to?

13. In intimate situations, including sexual activity, do you find it hard to ask for what you want your partner to give you?

14. Do you harbor resentments, resulting in nagging your partner about inconsequential matters (forgetting to turn off a light, pick up clothes or put the cap on the toothpaste)?

15. Do you hold on to angry feelings long after the conflict itself is forgotten?  

16. Are you embarrassed by the way your partner behaves in public or at social engagements?

17. Do you tend to keep score and ruminate about your partner’s past wrongs or indiscretions?

18. Do you keep a list of old transgressions that you pull out to stifle your partner whenever you argue or disagree?

19. Do you harbor resentment for which you feel you can never forgive your partner?

20. Are you controlling - threatening separation or divorce whenever your partner says things you don’t want to consider or face?

21. Have you ever physically abused your partner?

22. Do you demand to make the ultimate decision on every important issue?

23. Do you feel isolated and unneeded when your partner is successful?

24. Do you feel stronger and more essential to the relationship when your partner is weak or having problems?

25. Do you find work to do, become sleepy or act preoccupied when there is a real opportunity for togetherness?

     To some degree, we are all fraudulent lovers.  Most of us probably indulge, in varying degrees, in some of the behaviors described here.  Nevertheless, it may be a good idea to think about the behaviors that reflect your own.  If you answered “yes” to 15 or more questions, consider the possibility that you are your own worst enemy in intimate relationships.

     Loving behaviors, both constructive and destructive, are learned early in childhood and stay with us throughout our lives.  Each of us had early loving experiences to learn from, but they weren’t always positive or conducive to eliciting closeness and intimacy.  

     The questions presented here weren’t designed to find fault, but to point out some of the ways you may go about loving.  Although few of us escape the learned affliction of fraudulent loving, we all have to recognize that some of the behaviors we learned in our youth may well be destructive in adulthood.  The bottom line is this: Some of our so-called loving behaviors probably need to be changed and improved.  

     Why call this “fraudulent loving”?  When we love in such a way that we prostitute our own identities; behave in ways that differ from the way that we feel, allow people to hurt us just to gain their affection; when we are reluctant to stand up because we fear rejection, we can’t help but grow to resent or even hate the very people we want to love.  This resentment doesn’t always manifest itself overtly.  It can exist in a highly unconscious or covert fashion.   Either way, these feelings will eventually manifest themselves through resentful or hostile behaviors.  If they aren’t expressed overtly, they will be expressed passive-aggressively.  When we resent the people we love, we love in a fraudulent way.  Furthermore, the degree to which we fear our would-be lovers is the degree to which we are willing to purchase their affection, attention and involvement.   Similarly, the degree to which we sell ourselves short to obtain caring is the degree to which we are deceptive and dishonest in our intimate relationships.

     Real loving requires that you say to your partner what you genuinely feel; share your emotions, feelings, opinions and observations honestly and risk the potential disapproval, rejection or possible disagreement.

     People who love one another don’t have to think the same thing, believe the same thing, or behave the same way.  In fact, when you really think about it, living with a carbon copy of yourself would be pretty dull, though God knows many of us go through life trying to create just that in our spouses.  

     Perhaps living with someone with differing opinions, thoughts and viewpoints can help make life more interesting and challenging.  I recall, years ago, after my wife and I had a particularly intense discussion, I looked at her in exasperation and said, “What am I going to do with you?  You are absolutely in left field, worse than any one of my patients”.  She looked at me and asked, ‘What do you want, plain vanilla?”  I couldn’t help but smile, because that was the last thing I want in life.  I want the interest, spark and excitement of living with someone who contributes new viewpoints and new energy to a relationship.

     So, take this test for yourself and your partner.  Have him/her take it, too.  When you’re both finished, discuss it.  You may find out you don’t want plain vanilla, either.

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