The See-Saw Effect

The See-Saw Effect thumbnail image

We have all experienced this in our relationships. You are upset with your partner and your partner withdraws and becomes detached.  This makes you more upset to the point of hysteria.  Likewise, when your partner is angry, you withdraw, and he or she becomes more upset.  The See-Saw Effect explains why the more calm and detached a husband becomes, the more hysterical and panicky his wife gets.  It explains why nice, even-tempered people may attract partners with tempers.

Grow a great RelationshipThe See-Saw Effect starts with an emotional connection.  When you began to get serious with your partner, chances are that one of the big perks of the relationship was the emotional connection.  You probably felt like you understood each other, shared intimate moments, and were bonded in a special way.  Once this develops, you and your partner become in tune with each other’s emotions.  The more connected you are to another person, the more you are able to share and experience their feelings.

Once the deep, emotional connection is established, you and your partner may begin to experience the See-Saw Effect.  This occurs when you push down an emotion within you and it comes up in your partner, much like a see-saw when you touch the ground and your partner lifts into the air. So, if you are angry at your partner but do not like to express negative emotions, you may push it down and repress it. However, since you and your partner are so connected, your partner takes on the burden and expresses the anger instead. This can become a cycle if you and your partner both repress your uncomfortable emotions.  The emotions will come up but through the wrong partner. This just perpetuates the cycle.

Unfortunately, you cannot get rid of the See-Saw Effect, because it is a dynamic of human interaction. However, you can prevent yourself and others from unnecessary hurt by doing the following.

Start taking responsibility for your emotions.

Express your emotions instead of suppressing them.  Tell your partner the truth about what you are experiencing and express your feelings in a healthy and effective way before they get pushed down within you.

Ask yourself whose emotion is being expressed.

If your partner is expressing an emotion and you find yourself resisting them, ask yourself if there is a possibility that the emotion is yours.  Are you repressing the very emotion that your partner is expressing?  If so, communicate your feelings by taking responsibility.

When you feel emotions intensifying, take a break.

In the heat of the moment in arguments involving repressed emotions, feelings and behaviors can become intensified to a detrimental degree. During this time, things can be said and done that could seriously hurt your partner.  When you feel emotions intensifying, take a moment by yourself to reflect on what is happening inside of you and invite your partner to do the same. Return to the discussion once you have both calmed down.

For a free phone consult, call Dr. Fibus at 818.395.2831.

(Source: What You Feel You Can Heal by John Gray, Ph.D)