some relationships, arguments always seem one sided - with one
partner making all the noise as the other quietly calms the storm.
It's possible they both have a problem expressing their feelings,
but together they're able to reassure each other that emotions
are being managed. Different couples will experience it in different
ways, but that inexplicable feeling of wholeness you have when
you're together is what Henry Dicks, a guru in relationship psychotherapy,
called the 'unconscious fit'.
All of us carry with us a psychological blueprint, holding
details about our life experiences and the marks they've left.
It contains information we often haven't acknowledged about our
fears and anxieties and our coping mechanisms and defences.
of us has an unconscious capacity to scan another person's blueprint.
The people we're most attracted to are those who have a blueprint
that complements our own. We're looking for similarities of experience
but, more significantly, we're also looking for differences.
The purpose of this unconscious fit is to find someone who
can complement our experiences. That might be someone who's the
same as us, but most commonly we're looking for someone from whom
we can learn; someone who has developed coping mechanisms that
are different from our own.
ideal partner will be someone who has struggled with similar life
issues, but has developed another way of managing it. It seems
that our other half is often our best chance of becoming psychologically
no two relationships are ever the same, psychologists have noticed
that there are some common types of unconscious fit. Do you recognise
any of these?
and child - this type of couple often has shared issues with
dependency and trust. One partner copes with those issues by behaving
in a childlike way. Their hidden belief is that if they remain
insecure, dependent and needy their partner will look after them.
Their partner takes on the role of parent and by doing so is able
to deny their own needs for dependency as they're acted out by
and slave - this couple has a problem with authority and control.
One partner may feel very insecure if they're ever subordinate,
so they're bossy and take charge of every household circumstance.
Their partner, who fears responsibility, dutifully toes the line
while smugly comparing what they describe as their laid-back attitude
to their partner's control-freak attitude.
and pursuer - both partners are afraid of intimacy but have
found their perfect match. The unspoken agreement is that one
of them will keep chasing and nagging the other one for more intimacy
while the other runs away. Occasionally the chase will swap round.
and worshipper - when one partner insists on putting the other
on a pedestal, this often indicates an issue with competition.
To avoid any form of comparison, both partners unconsciously agree
to play this game.
are two other common types of fit based on finding a partner who
has a similar problem and a similar way of coping.
in the wood - you may have seen this couple around. They look
alike and often wear matching sweaters. They share the same interests
and, more importantly, they dislike the same things. They keep
anything bad out of their perfect relationship by joining forces
against the big, bad world outside.
and dog - on the surface these partners look as though they
should never have even met. They argue incessantly over anything.
They both avoid intimacy by living in a war zone.
may see elements of your relationship in all of these types. As
we progress through our relationships, it's not uncommon to slip
into a certain pattern of behaviour. For example, in a time of
illness and vulnerability you may act out the parent and child
model, while many couples become like babes in the wood following
the birth of a child.
Good or bad chemistry?
All fits serve a psychological purpose designed to protect
ourselves from discomfort. Most couples aren't aware of their
fit until something happens to change it. We all grow and mature,
our needs change and our relationships need to adapt to those
may start when one or both partners feell they are no longer able
to communicate their feelings and alter patterns of behaviour
that are now outdated. If you think that may be happening in your
relationship, see When you first met.
If this article has raised some difficult issues for you then
try talking it through with a partner or trusted friend. Alternatively
you may want to consider counselling.