Differentiation (Being Your Own Person)

“Lack of differentiation alienates us from those we love.  Emotional fusion deceives us into thinking that we’re not connected and we move away in defense.  But the deeper truth is that we have to move away to counterbalance the tremendous impact we feel our spouse or significant other has on us.  Or, unable to turn away, we turn ourselves over to the connection, but it feels engulfing.” (p. 57)


“Differentiation is the ability to maintain your sense of self when your partner is away or when you are not in a primary love relationship.” (p. 67)


The differentiated self is solid but permeable, allowing you to remain close even when your partner tries to mold or manipulate you.” (p. 67)


Differentiation doesn’t involve any lack of feelings or emotions.  You can connect with your partner without fear of being swept up in his or her emotions.  You can evaluate your emotions (and your partner’s) both subjectively and objectively.  You have feelings, cut they don’t control you or define your sense of self.”  (p. 68).

From the book Passionate Marriage by David Schnarch, PhD