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Adult Dating: From Attraction to Commitment (Part 3)

From Fantasy to Personal Transformation

The crisis created when fantasy and reality meet in a new dating relationship cannot be resolved at the level of fantasy. So how do we get through this crisis? We have to reach a higher level of understanding.

Sorting Out the Confusion

Relationship disappointments are experienced, at least initially, “in the present” (“You are my problem.”). However, as the crisis plays out, the “past” begins to make an appearance: “You are just like my ex-husband”; “My mother treated me the same way you are treating me now.”

This is a critical turn of events. It allows us to see the source of the unhappiness. The “bit of truth in the present” is now seen to have a long history. We begin to learn more and more about the lifetime of disappointments and suffering which the other person has had to survive to get to this present relationship with us. We begin to return fears and accusations to their source in such past relationships. We learn to pick up more quickly on those situations in which our partner is attributing something to us which actually is an issue from their past.

Of course, since we, at the same time, have been doing the same thing to our partner (that is, laying our past on them), we must also inevitably return to our own past. This may be more disturbing than pinning all our unhappiness onto our present partner. Who would you prefer to see as the source of your distress — your father or the man you have just started dating who has begun to disappoint you? If you pick the latter and avoid facing the former, then not only will your present relationship suffer (you will label your partner a “bad guy”), but you will continue to be held hostage by your underlying father issues.

Sorting out the past from the present invariably means doing some work in the present. If you have been placing father issues onto your boyfriend then, once you realize this, you will need to deal with your father (and, undoubtedly, your mother and siblings as well) not only “in the past” but in the present as well.

Once the problem at the root of the negative fantasy is addressed, the relationship with your dating partner can change. You will be able to see your partner more clearly for who they really are. This can result in a positive regard which is much more realistic and stable This time the positive is not the positive fantasy that grows from negative fantasy. This positive fantasy will have a stronger basis is reality.

Adult Dating: From Attraction to Commitment (Part 3)

Robert Stone

APA Reference
Stone, R. (2020). Adult Dating: From Attraction to Commitment (Part 3). Psych Central. Retrieved on December 4, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 17 Jan 2020 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 17 Jan 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.