Differentiation (Being Your Own Person)

 

“Differentiation permits you to maintain your own course when friends and family pressure you to agree and conform.  Well-differentiated people can agree without feeling like they’re ‘losing themselves’ and can disagree without feeling alienated and embittered.  They can stay connected with people who disagree with them and still ‘know who they are’>  They don’t have to leave the situation to hold onto their sense of self.” (p. 56)

 

“Differentiation is the ability to stay in connection without being consumed by the other person.  Our urge for togetherness and our capacity to care always drive us to seek connection but true interdependence requires emotionally distinct people.”  (p. 57)

 

Emotional fusion is connection without separation.  Emotional fusion is a tenacious emotional like between people that allows anxiety to flow between them.  It arises as the consequence of incomplete emotional development, wherein each partner relies on the other to support and supplant his or her functioning.  (“Few of us are highly developed when we marry.  Marriage itself makes us grow up.  To the degree that you are not a well-developed human, you will be emotionally fused with the people around you.”  (p. 295)  I’m not referring to some kind of unconscious feeling, but rather a tangible process by which people pass anxiety between them.”  (p. 116)

From the book Passionate Marriage by David Schnarch, PhD