Fatal Attraction

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Interpersonal Relationship Principle Of Fatal Attraction Defined Beatriz David Psychology Of Interpersonal Behavior- Section 3110 Professor Dana Donohue December 4, 2009 Abstract One of the reasons that so many marriages today end up in divorce today has to do with the interpersonal personal relationship principle known as fatal attraction. When most people think of fatal attraction, they right away think of the popular definition represented in the movie “Fatal Attraction”. This paper will define the principle of fatal attraction from an interpersonal relationship perspective. Along with a definition of fatal attraction, I will explore some of the causes of fatal attraction. I will discuss my experiences with fatal attractions. Peer reviewed articles together with my own personal experiences will be used to further expound on the definition of fatal attraction. I have illustrated the effect that fatal attraction has had on my own interpersonal relationship. I will also show how in a relationship other principles of interpersonal relationships are influenced by fatal attraction. This paper will also provide an example of how a fatal attraction can take an emotional and psychological toll not on a relationship but also in an individual. Interpersonal Relationship Principle Of Fatal Attraction Defined From a psychological and sociological perspective, the term fatal attraction means something quite different than its’ pop culture definition. The psychological and sociological definition is when a quality that an individual comes to dislike in a partner is an exaggerated version of the same quality that was initially attractive. A fatal attraction occurs when an intimate partner is seen as having too much of an attractive quality. Fatal attractions are a common occurrence in intimate relationships. It is also a common cause of disenchantment in many relationships. In my 15-year marriage, both my ex-husband and myself had the misfortune of experiencing a fatal attraction. Upon first meeting my ex-husband, I could not help being attracted to his assertiveness. It wasn’t long after we were married that this quality that I was so attracted to morphed into stifling control. As for him, I think he liked my being naive and somewhat needy, then disliked and even ended up resenting me for being unsophisticated and being too dependent on him. “Because of the problems differences pose for couples, romantic attractions to differences in a partner are expected to be particularly susceptible to fatal attrac-tions. An attraction to another can be "different" in two ways: (1) different from self (i. e. , dissimilarity) or (2) different from average (i. e. , unusual or extreme)” (Felmlee, 2001, p. 266). I found this to be a factor in my fatal attraction experience. The assertiveness that I was so attracted to in my ex-husband, I now see stemmed from my own low self-esteem and low self-regard. I found myself being so comforted by his having a plan for his life. As for him, I think that he too had some self-esteem issues. For a while, my interdependency on him allowed him to feel needed. That same high regard I had for him also bolstered his self-esteem. This attraction of opposites became very problematic in our relationship. It seems that upon us meeting our personality differences were the cement that bound us together, but as the relationship continued it became the foundation that all of our relationship dysfunctions grew from. “Differences between partners in demographic characteristics, personality, or attitudes are all likely to be associated with different preferences and values, which in turn may heighten the chances for disagreements and misunderstandings” (Femlee, 1998, p. 237). One of the things that have learned from being in a relationship where for both of us fatal attraction was a factor, is that with the passing of time, these negative personality traits seemed to only breed more negativity and more emotional instability. When my husband became dismissing, I became preoccupied. While he displayed self-serving biases, I was filled with positive illusions. These continuing opposing qualities in our relationship ultimately created an imbalance in our relationship that could never be made balanced again. Before I knew it, my husband had become the person of lesser interest in our relationship. The principle of lesser interest occurs when one partner in a relationship is more emotionally involved than the other and that the less involved partner can exploit the more involved partner in various ways. “A significant gap in emotional involvement could lead to a situation of one partner’s taking the other for granted, or an even more extreme situation of exploitation. When relationships of this type result in marriage, the results were expected to be unsatisfactory (Waller, 1938). This suggests that it might be better if romantic relationships with unequal emotional involvement dissolve before getting to the point of marriage” (see also Sprecher, Schmeeckle, Felmlee, 2006, p. 1256). In my marriage, I always felt as if I had to walk on a tight rope and I’, sure that you can see why. At its worst I was made to feel as if I were a child that couldn’t do anything right. As I sit here and write this paper, I see so clearly just how it evolved to this. The assertiveness that I was so attracted to morphed into an arrogance that made him an unbearable, controlling egomaniac. It is so easy to see now how becoming the person of lesser interest would be the next logical step. I used to wonder how did we get to the point that you could actually see that believed that he owned me, and that he had power over me. I was blind but now I see, that our relationship had deteriorated to this. Another conflict situation, which can be a cause a fatal attraction in a relationship called dialectics. The principle of dialectics maintains that couples deal with pairs of contradicting traits such as autonomy and connection, openness and closeness, and novelty and predictability. Dialectics are also referred to opposing motivations or opposing forces. Opposing forces that are common are often found in fatal attractions are fun versus seriousness, connection versus autonomy, and strength versus vulnerability. Fatal attractions may occur because a partner may be drawn to one part of an opposing force, but then they find their relationship lacking in the corresponding force. When you are in a relationship that is plagued with a fatal attraction, the ideal thing to do is to get out of this relationship the sooner than better. I think that one of the reasons that my marriage lasted as long as it did was because my husband and I enter the marriage idealizing each other and managed to see virtues in our faults. I see now that this was more of a defense mechanism to allow us to remain in the marriage. These types of relationships are very difficult to repair. The fatal attraction by itself isn’t a difficult one to overcome but because there is always so many underline issues that also have to be resolved. Like so many other relationship problems this also requires that the two parties be willing to search and deal with the many issues that they brought into the relationship. With divorce always being available as an easy out, it’s no wonder that many couples with a fatal attraction issue just find it much easier to get a divorce and just start a fresh and new relationship with someone else. For my ex-husband, and myself this is exactly what we ended up doing. The truth of the matter is that until I took this class I never really realized what the actual causes of our problems were. Maybe if we had gone to counseling early on. Then we might have been able to salvage the marriage. However, as my ex-husband’s assertiveness gave way to arrogance he believed that I was the one with the problems not him, and therefore, he believed he had no need to seek therapy. In retrospect, if could go back and do things differently I would have left before things could have gotten as bad as they did. In conclusion, although I am not comfortable with the label of being a victim of abuse I can see that I clearly was one. I was not physically abused, but I definitely was in a situation where I was mentally and emotionally abused. As I was plagued with low CL’s and Clalt’s, I know that one of the main reasons that I didn’t leave was because I didn’t believe that I could do better. I also told myself that the evil that I knew was better than the evil that I didn’t know. I must also admit that I did believe that I was largely to blame for being in this situation because, I just couldn’t quite figure out what it was that I was doing wrong. I thought that once that I was able figure this out he would magically release the nice person I believed that he possessed inside of him. I am so fortunate now because the knowledge that I now posses will prevent me from ever being in this situation again. I also can’t have too many regrets from being in these situations because it is my past experiences that have molded me into the person that I am today. I’m genuinely content, and have a higher sense of self-regard, and my self-esteem is higher than it has ever been. References Felmlee, Diane H. 001. “From Appealing to Appalling: Disenchantment with a Romantic Partner. ” Sociological Perspectives. Volume 44(3): 263-280 Felmlee, Diane H. 1998. “Be Careful What You Wish For…’ A Quantitative and Qualitative Investigation of ‘Fatal Attractions’. ” Personal Relationships. Volume 5: 235-253 Sprecher, Susan, Schmeeckle, Maria, and Felmlee, Diane H. 2006. “The Principle of Least Interest: Inequality in Emotional Involvement in Romantic Relationships. ” Journal of Family Issues 2006. Volume 27: 1255-1280
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