We’ve all had bad relationships, but usually the red flags are obvious: aggressive behavior, inability to commit, emotional unavailability, etc. However, there is actually a subtler red flag that our matchmakers watch out for: the fantasy bond. This bond fools people into believing they are in a connected, loving relationship when the reality is that they are just faking their way through the motions of a relationship without actually putting any effort into it.
This fantasy bond can keep couples together – albeit unhappily – for years. Our matchmaking agency prides itself on introducing people capable of forming connections that go far beyond the surface. Education is the best weapon we have against unsatisfying relationships, so we have compiled some tips to recognize – and correct – fantasy bonds.
What is a Fantasy Bond?
A “fantasy bond” is a term coined by psychologist Robert Firestone in his book, The Fantasy Bond: Structure of Psychological Defenses, to describe the false connection many couples report. Fantasy bonds are often accepted as a normal stage of relationships as couples get used to each other, but nothing could be further from the truth. Fantasy bonds are a sign of trouble in any relationship.
How is a Fantasy Bond Different from Real Love?
Love is a pure, selfless emotion we feel for one another. Fantasy bonds are defense mechanisms that give us the illusion of a real relationship – all the while protecting us from actually letting that person in. With fantasy bonds, partners mistake daily routines for signs that all is as it should be. Essentially, couples mistake their normalcy for intimacy. It’s a false sense of security that happens when couples take each other for granted, depersonalize their partner and stop putting forth the effort needed to add momentum to their relationship.
What are the Signs of a Fantasy Bond?
Fantasy bonds are an unconscious process. It’s something you enter into without knowledge that you are doing so. Until you have that “aha!” moment where you realize things need to change, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what is wrong. Here are the most telltale signs of a fantasy bond:
- Lack of eye contact
Eye contact is a sign that we’re not just listening – we’re really paying attention to what the other person is saying, how they’re saying it, and what their words might mean. Lack of eye contact is often interpreted as a sign that you (or your significant other) do not care.
- Shallow communication
Small talk is great when you first meet a person, but communication should evolve over time. If you’ve been together for a year and the extent of your conversations is still limited to how your day went, it might be time to step out of your comfort zone.
The most common sign of codependence that we see is couples who automatically become “we” instead of two separate identities. This is a classic technique used to depersonalize romantic partners. The more “you” your partner becomes the less you can appreciate them for their own unique qualities that attracted you to them in the first place.
- Impersonal signs of affection
Someone who is “going through the motions” is more likely to give their partner generic gifts or rely on gender roles to encompass what they think a relationship “should” look like. PsychAlive says gender roles might be exaggerated as part of a fantasy bond. For example, the woman might be expected to play her role as a caretaker and shoulder the emotional aspects of the relationship while the man acts as a breadwinner and handles more practical elements.
- “Routine” sex life
When lovemaking becomes less exciting, it is not a result of something that “just happens” – it’s a sign that partners are less involved with each other. Sex is just one of many ways to appreciate your partner.
How Can I Fix a Fantasy Bond?
- Make eye contact
No matter the topic, look your partner directly in the eye when you are having a conversation. Don’t busy yourself with paperwork or allow your phone to distract from what your partner is saying.
- Delve deeper
Think of conversation starters that aren’t “How was your day?” Instead, begin the conversation with a story and then ask your partner their opinion on the situation. You could also ask your partner about religion, politics or current events. It’s okay to disagree as long as you are respectful of each other.
- Maintain interests
You and your partner were initially attracted to each other because of the unique qualities you bring to the table. Focus on what makes you – and your partner – different from every other person in the world and develop those traits. Nurture the things that make your partner unique and encourage them to spend time pursuing their own hobbies.
- Shake things up
Sex therapists recommend a lot of different techniques to build intimacy. Surprisingly, a lot of these behaviors take place outside the bedroom. Among those recommended by Denise C. Onofrey, MA, NCC are praising your partner, reading a book about improving relationships, and even engaging in prolonged hugs to encourage mental – and physical – closeness.
Your relationship doesn’t have to be boring. It’s time to remember why you fell in love with your partner and appreciate each other for the unique personalities and interests that make each of you fun to be around. Our matchmaking agency is anything but ordinary and our client database is filled with singles waiting to discover real relationships. Call today to learn more.