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In this episode Joel and Antonia talk about Imago Relationships and relationship patterns we tend to repeat over and over as humans.

In this podcast on imago relationships you’ll find:

  • The concept of Imago Relationships was introduced by Harville Hendrix in his book “Getting the Love You Want”.
  • Imago is the Latin term of “image”. We have an image inside our heads of what love looks like based on our relationships with parents, teachers and the ones we love. Depending upon what kind of love interaction you had, you will pick up different love habits and certain markers that mean love to you.
  • People look for those markers because that’s where they are very familiar.
  • We also have unmet needs. It doesn’t matter how great your parents were because no person can fully meet another person’s needs. In time, you will meet someone who reminds of a deep unconscious level about your parents, sibling or anyone in your life. When you enter into a relationship, initially it would be fun but eventually, you will be unhappy because of needs that go unmet.
  • There’s a concept in Imago relationships that you actually end up with the person because they can’t meet your needs. Whatever it is, people will look at those markers because that’s where they’re familiar and comfortable. It’s probably why people who were very abused when they were young are looking for someone who have experienced the same thing.
  • We all enter the world wanting love, love is the number one obsession we have as human beings. We’re constantly looking for markers of love and that becomes love to you (no matter what form).
  • The concept itself brings something that’s unconscious, then it makes us conscious and aware of what we’re doing. For example: “why am I entering with a relationship with this person, when I know it’s not good for me?”
  • According to relationship therapy philosophy, we enter in relationships in order for us to grow. It effective shines a light on our wounding which opens the opportunity to do something about it. If that happens, you can either justify the feeling you had or you can re-evaluate and say that it’s an expression or feeling you need to identify and work on.
  • People who are in the Imago Relationship have the tendency to blame the other person because they’re not getting our needs met.
  • As you mature, you realize that not one person can meet your needs. Look for the markers that are coming up. Anything you have tension in your relationship, or anything you feel bad, if your insides hurt, there’s something you need to work on.
  • Everyone has their own triggers. If you are in an Imago relationship, use that as your tool so you can see what you need to work on.
  • You need to understand who you’re with. When you have a loving relationship, you have positive intent for the person vice versa. The less you blame the other person, when you remove the defensive vocabulary, the more you grow, your partner understands you better and the relationships get stronger.
  • Marriage is the tool in order to bridge intimacy and commitment. We need to remember that we humans don’t serve the relationship; marriage is not the ultimate thing or focus – we are the focus.
  • Instead of attaching so tightly to the desired outcome, look at why you are attached. Ask yourself, “what need is going perpetually unmet in me?”
  • Whenever you’re doing things that are not contributing to your personal happiness, that is an inroad in the imago of a need that is unmet.
  • When you open yourself up, it can feel terrifying in the moment, but would you rather live a life where you repeat things over and over and you’re not getting to the next level or would you rather risk the relationship, grow and take the relationship to a deeper level?
  • The one thing you cannot escape on the planet is yourself. Stop fearing that person, don’t live in a situation that leads to your suffering or misery.
  • There are limitations to the type of imago relationship you’re going to enter. You wouldn’t want to enter an imago relationship where you face physical abuse.
  • The only thing a relationship where being single can’t is being with another person all the time.
  • As a single person, do everything you can in order to meet all your needs as possible.

Things we reference in this podcast:

 

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  • MacKenzie
    Reply

    Hi guys! I’m an 18 year old male, and I’ve noticed that almost every girl I’ve attracted has struggled with depression, self-injury, and poor body image and self-worth. I don’t really know why this is the case, and I’ve never actually been involved with any of them romantically or reciprocated their feelings. Is the principle of imago relationships still applicable in this case? If so, which of my traits might be drawing in this type of person? Not sure if this helps, but I’ve taken the test multiple times, and my results have fluctuated between Perspectives/Effectiveness and Accuracy/Exploration. Any feedback on this would be welcome.

    • Antonia Dodge
      Reply

      Hey, MacKenzie! Thanks for the question.

      I’m not entirely sure if I can spot the imago pattern since you’re not attracted back to them. It could be that you have an energy which feels safe. If so, my guess is that you more resonate with Perspectives/Effectiveness (INTJ), a type that can get into the perspective of others and truly understand them. (Unless you don’t hold space or tolerate that shit for two seconds, then you’re more likely to be Accuracy/Exploration [INTP]. :p)

      At the risk of sounding condescending (which I don’t intend at all), at the age of 18 you’re going to be absolutely swimming in girls who have poor body image and self-worth. It’s a hazard of being a teenager. Depression and self-injury are definitely not as ‘typical’ for teenage girls, but they’re still far more prevalent in that age range than later in life. Most women learn how to navigate these terrains through their 20’s by getting help, becoming seasoned with age and/or a combination of the two. I wouldn’t assume you’re an ‘imago’ to them unless you don’t shake the situation in the next decade or so.

      -A-

  • Theresa
    Reply

    Hello!
    I found this podcast really interesting and revealing of why so many people make the same relationship mistakes and who we’re attracted to, all these things. It makes a lot of sense. At first I felt this idea of Imago relationships was irrelevant to me because I have only been in one serious romantic relationship, but as I expanded to thinking about my close male friends, many of them follow a similar pattern. Quiet, thoughtful, wounded, highly intelligent, yet often cold in a social setting because they dislike small talk, they read people very well and have deep ability to care which they don’t let on to because they are often misunderstood or were hurt in the past. Their types are INTP, INFJ and INTJ, smart, quiet, perceptive, wounded, with deep capacity for caring that people rarely took advantage of. And I realized that my father is very much this quiet wounded type and he and I have a great relationship. (He’s a Perspectives/Effectiveness I’m an Authenticity/Exploration as per your genius system).

    So I understand why I am attracted to them, but here’s my question. I am a chameleon type (not Meyers Briggs, just generally). With others I often contort my own behavior to the part of me that most matches them and what I think they want. I haven’t known any other INFPs closely enough to say if this is true generally, but for me at least I can be more or less of myself depending on the context. I blend in order to interact the most effectively with people. Not to the point of denying myself, everything I do is true to me, it’s more of a picking, choosing, cropping kind of process for specific moments or people. What are the connotations of this adaptability or even manipulative type tendencies in the context of imago relationships and what they see in you? How can you determine what they see in you when you’re changing what they see?

    (Example, if I’m with a bubbly ESFP talking about a movie, I’ll follow their discussion, not make anything too deep or boring for them, be more bubbly. If I’m out shovelling with my INTJ father I’m going to be very task oriented and quiet to match his demeanor, ect.)

    • Joel Mark Witt
      Reply

      Thanks Theresa for the comment.

      I’m an ENFP (in the Myers Briggs system) and am also a chameleon when interacting with different types of people.

      I “play the part” in any given context.

      I used to feel a little self conscious about it and now I’m embracing it.

      The important thing for me is to deep down truly KNOW what I want from life and relationships.

      The trouble for me comes when I am not grounded in my true identity.

      But if I am grounded – then as I adapt to those around me – I don’t lose myself.

      Anyway – that’s my “2 cents.”

    • Marc
      Reply

      Yeah, I’m one of those from the first paragraph. I guess this whole theory does not apply to me either, because I’m INTP forever alone and attract no one(?) 🙁

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