Therapeutic romance: make it stop!


Therapy is a good thing. I deeply respect people who show the courage and willingness to heal from their childhood wounding. I admire couples who support each other in this process. That’s true love! So… this article is not about you, nor is it about decent therapy or supportive partners. On the contrary, I just want to call out a trend which I believe is overtaking the spiritual world: therapeutic romance.

Spiritual navel gazing

Therapeutic romance, a contradiction in terms, is seen in relationships where one or both partners justify their immature or inappropriate behaviour by saying: ‘It’s because of my childhood’, without any intention to change. Therapy and romance are like oil and water. They just don’t mix. People who are in these types of relationships tend to use their partner as a constant input for their own healing process. Everything the partner says or does – or doesn’t say or do – is used as a trigger to dig even deeper into the process of self-discovery. This is called spiritual navel gazing. You might wonder who they are more interested in: themselves, or their partner?

Get over it

This trend is the opposite of what trauma release is really about. Yes, traumatic childhood experiences can scar us, but you need to distinguish between trauma and the simple resistance to growing up. With real trauma release, you do the work and eventually you get over it. There’s no interest whatsoever in finding excuses to perpetuate your immature behaviour. You’re not obsessing over it, you simply want to move on, live your life and truly connect! This is very different from the spiritual navel gazing you find in romantic relationships that have somehow turned therapeutic.

A story of healing

I had a boyfriend, in a far, far away galaxy, with whom I had a complicated relationship. At a certain point we were on a break, but one evening he knocked on my door. He was crying and clearly going through some very deep stuff. He explained to me that it was the realisation that his mother never really lovingly breastfed him. She did breastfeed him, but not lovingly. This was a deep gap in his soul. He asked if he could come in and if I would be so kind as to help him solve this trauma. Of course, I let him in. I was a healer, after all.

I asked him: ‘What can I do for you?’
He said: ‘I want to suck your breast.’
I was taken back: ‘But we are on a break.’
And he replied: ‘No, no, not like that. I just want to consciously feel your nipple in my mouth, and feel the love that flows from there. I want to nourish my inner child by giving myself now, consciously, what I never had as a baby.’
He sounded so vulnerable. I said: ‘Okay.’

Or not?

So, I took my top off, took him in my arms and held him like a baby. When he took my nipple into his mouth, everything in him relaxed. He looked so happy and satisfied. This took a few minutes, but then something shifted. I could feel it. He opened his eyes and I saw not a satisfied, happy baby, but a horny man. He looked at me cheekily, let go of my nipple and started to kiss my breasts.
I said: ‘Stop! What are you doing?’
He answered: ‘Well, I’m aroused. I’m a man too, you know?’

Playing the childhood trauma card

I got so angry! I ended the session there and then and told him to go. When he hesitated at the doorstep, I said: ‘This is ridiculous. You cannot maneuvre yourself into a situation of intimacy with me by using your trauma as a way in, either consciously or unconsciously! This is just so wrong!’
He said: ‘I’m sorry. You’re right.’
This experience actually improved our relationship, because since then we called each other out, every time either of us pulled the childhood trauma card. It was so refreshing!

Grow up

There are many other examples. Actually, the spiritual world is full of them. We seem to be constantly digging into the past, because we don’t want to take responsibility for the present. This is just so uncool. I really believe we should never use our childhood, our parents or our trauma as an excuse for our behaviour as a mature person. The whole world of psychology just becomes a scheme when this happens. Like this, the process of de-traumatising, which is so valid in itself, becomes a way to NOT change, instead of a chance to liberate yourself and be free.

Forget the tea

Popular psychology leads us to believe that we all have abandonment and commitment issues. But do we really? I don’t think so! We are resilient creatures. We are amazingly creative, flexible and independent beings, even as a child! Were you really that devastated when you came home from school and your mum wasn’t there, waiting with a cup of tea, ready to admire your drawing? Did it scar you for life? Hell no! I was happy when my mum wasn’t there, for once, so I could do my own thing!

Take back your power

If you are in a relationship where you cannot have a good fight or an honest conversation without your partner pulling the childhood trauma card, then leave. Or at least, call him out! Get real. Don’t let him – or her – get away with it. Don’t label it either, don’t call it something cute like ‘Peter Pan syndrome’, that’s just another way of justifying it.

The same counts for us all, of course. Maybe you’re pulling the childhood trauma card far too often yourself. Have the sense to stop it. Take responsibility instead. Take back your power, take back your resilience, your amazing capacity to be a decent, reliable, strong, loving human being, and focus your attention more on getting to know your sweet, adorable partner. Usually his or her navel is much nicer to gaze at than your own, anyway.

You are the one

Stop making excuses. If you’re an emotional over-eater, don’t say it’s because of what your mother taught you. If you watch porn, don’t say it’s because you never had a proper sexual education. If you freak out when your girlfriend is not answering your messages, don’t say it’s because you were abandoned as a child. Yeah, it might be where it all started. It might be all your parents’ fault, it might all be due to this failing culture, but still it’s up to you to do something about it. You are the only person who can change it. And you better not wait, you better not postpone it. Do it now, so you can live in freedom and actually have a good relationship with your partner – and yourself! – for the rest of your life.

It’s sexy to be real

We need to step into a new epoch where we, as human beings, hold ourselves and each other accountable. We should no longer buy the excuses that popular psychology has provided us with. Really, it’s much sexier to take responsibility for your actions and say: ‘I’m sorry, I was way off,’ than to say: ‘This is because of my childhood, poor me, you should have compassion.’

We are no longer children, we are conscious beings. We can choose not to be victims of our childhood, but to be creative creatures, full of potential. We can change. Let’s choose to be fully empowered, responsible, connected human beings, now and forever.


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