How To Know If You’re Projecting Unto Your Partner
We all know that sharing our feelings is healthy and necessary if we aim to keep a relationship in good standing. But how can you tell if what you’re feeling aren’t projections of your own insecurities?
What if it did more damage to the relationship to unload your burden of fears unto your partner rather than own up to your faults and insecurities?
What are Projections?
A definition of projection in psychology, according to everydayhealth.com is “a defense mechanism people subconsciously employ in order to cope with difficult feelings or emotions. Psychological projection involves projecting undesirable feelings or emotions unto someone else, rather than admitting to or dealing with the unwanted feelings.”
Yesterday, my boyfriend and I were at an Acro Yoga jam. Things were “flying smoothly” – all pun intended. Forty five minutes into learning some new poses and acrovinyasa, a chick in denim shorts walked right past us.
My boyfriend, who was basing, meaning he was at ground level, seemed to be in the perfect position to see her round butt. Instantly, this made my blood rush and I felt the heat wave of jealousy traveling through my whole body. Unaware of anything, he suggested – or rather asked – if I wanted to fly her, so I could practice being a base. Of course this meant he’d volunteer himself to be a spotter, meaning he’d get EVEN CLOSER to that curvy body of hers. “OH.HELL.NO. SIR.”, I thought to myself. My reply was a definitive NO.
Mind you, I like to believe I’m a very kind and polite person. I would not normally give a cold shoulder to anyone, let alone a stranger I have nothing against. So, this left me wondering, where the hell was this all coming from? Why the sudden feeling of jealousy and rejection towards this woman who’s done nothing other than wear short shorts to an acro class?
Where do the projections come from?
Projections may emerge as a consequence of childhood traumas such as witnessing one (or both) of our parents cheating, lying, hiding, manipulating the truth and situations to their advantage. Infidelities carried on for years of lies upon lies are a great fuel for projections to pop up once we reach adulthood and start our own journey into intimate relationships. Projection is the single most destructive happening in intimate relationships. Its power lies in our inability to see it. Because it is a subconscious defense mechanism, we are most often blind to our own projections. We are SURE the fault lies within our partner, and fail to see the part we play in the whole sh*t show.
It hit me like a brick on the forehead. The kind, polite and confident woman that I thought I was, had been tested by a pair of walking denim shorts. I really did not see this lesson coming. There’s so much for me to learn, so much to heal. It took a good 48-hour period and pouring my heart out on paper at a writer’s workshop, for it to click in me. The problem wasn’t that woman, nor my boyfriend (who even assured me he had found not a single girl appealing, nor hot, and most definitely didn’t check out any bum out). The problem was in me.
Fear gives root to 99% of relationship problems. Ok, don’t quote me on that. But seriously, by deconstructing the chain of events, I was able to clearly see that:
a) An external object (denim shorts) triggered a thought which
b) ignited an emotional reaction coming in the form of attachment which led to
c) the rise of a deep sense of fear of losing the object of my affection, which would, in turn
d) invalidate all we’ve been through and the person I’ve become, meaning
e) losing my sense of identity (my ego), which would equate to
f) death – basically.
So, in short: Woman in shorts = Death 🤦🏽♀️
How can you tell if you’re projecting unto your partner?
If you catch yourself trapped in the following fantasies, it’s a sign you might be (you definitely are) projecting unto your partner.
1. I’m scared my partner will cheat on me
Yeah – this one’s pretty typical. Who doesn’t go through this at least once in their lifetime? However, if the feeling lingers and it grows into a fantabulous fantasy with mega intricate details – well, it might be an indicator that you have some deep-engrained insecurities about your own self-worth or unresolved trust issues from either past intimate relationships OR parental role modeling flop at its best. Either way, do explore what’s behind this fear. And remember to be extra cautious so you don’t go accusing your lover without any real grounds in reality.
2. I’m scared of aging and losing my sex appeal
Well, sorry to break it to you but YEAH, you WILL age! But that doesn’t mean you have to lose your sex appeal. In fact, starting relationships can be a #pita (pain in the *ss). Always caring about your every single hair strand being in perfect place, money and time spent trying to over impress your new guy/girl. Don’t get me wrong. By all means DO stay fit, exercise regularly – heck, you can even start yoga together!
Once you’ve spent some quality time building your intimate relationship, you can let all the moans and grunts be expressed. You can be yourself completely and rest assured that your kinkiness, that unique being that you are, is loved EXACTLY as it is! You can let the tigress come out and play. It’s like good wine – it only gets better with time (provided the right conditions are met, of course). Sexiness is all about your personality, it’s how you carry yourself, being genuine and confident. And that you can do until you’re 90!
3. What if my partner gets bored of me?
I’m not gonna sugarcoat it. There are ups and downs. We are humans, so we tend to crave for variety. So, go on and reinvent yourself. Reach out and express this fear, not in an accusatory tone, but rather in a “hey babe, wanna play a little tonight?” (wink wink) kind of way. The fear of him/her leaving because things got stale is as much in your control as brushing your teeth every morning. And it takes two to tango. There might be times when YOU feel bored. So get off your lazy bum and shake things up a little. Plan a surprise, go for a walk together, learn a new trait, or take up kizomba lessons. If you keep yourself busy and feeling alive, your partner will see how independent you are and will respect that very much. All we can ever do is take care of ourselves, grow ourselves, nurture our mind, body and soul. If someone gets bored of you because you’re too active – well, that’s just their loss right there.
4. What is he/she doing on the phone all the time?
Well, why are you not entertained enough to even notice? Again – the mind is a tricky bastard, always weaving conspiracy theories out of thin air. This happens when we have extra time in our hands. If we’re working like crazy, we won’t notice these things. We’ll be proactive, engaged, focused. But when the mind is idle, uh oh – that’s when sh*t breaks. So, instead of feeding fantasies, be straightforward. If you feel you need more quality time and he/she is always stuck to the godforsaken apparatus – just say so: “Babe, can I get a hug please? I’m feeling insecure about this particular issue and because I honor our beautiful connection, I want to express how I feel about it.” And off you go to describe the situation and what is your desired outcome. Disclaimer: This doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get what you want, or that your partner will even take things lightly. However, at the very least, you get to express what’s bothering you so much and feel relieved by speaking your truth. When your partner doesn’t feel accused, he/she is more likely to adapt and make changes to benefit the relationship. 💞
The Journey Towards Healing
There is a way to heal and move on. Here are some guidelines you can follow, if they resonate with you:
Anytime you disown parts of yourself, you are at high risk for projection. The problem is that society has trained us in duality. We like certain aspects and characteristics of ourselves and condemn the parts that we deem inadequate, lacking or faulty. By remaining stuck in duality, we will always feel like we have the right to judge others, but more importantly ourselves. We mortify ourselves with questions like: How could you feel jealous after all the commitment he/she’s proven to you? How can you feel unattractive when all he/she does is compliment you on your looks and body? How can you doubt him/her? And on and on the self-loathing and censorship go on.
Accept that we live in a world of duality where we feel foreign to the other. We are constantly swaying between like and dislike, approve and disapprove, repulsion and attachment. We are slowly awakening to the realization that as energy beings, we are in fact, connected to all that is manifested.
Recognize emotions as energy. Emotions are passengers. Let them come and go. Be observant of what triggers you and get to know yourself better from the inside out. Know your reactions, your weaknesses. Relationships are an excellent vehicle for personal development as it’s usually the turf in which we lay all our fears, worries, possessiveness, incongruences, our madness.
Learn to transmute negative energy into positive vibes! This one takes practice. Not only must you become aware of the energies present AT THE MOMENT of the action, but you must learn to breathe properly to ensure you sublimate stagnant and stinky energies into refined, pure, loving vibes.
Practice open communication and acceptance with your loved one. The more you feel comfortable to express your fears without worrying about pushing your partner away, jeopardizing your relationship, or saying something “wrong”, the more effectively you’ll relay your issues and be able to receive understanding from your #bae. Of course this goes two-ways. Your partner also needs to be on board with (and this requires emotional maturity) being a passive listener and not taking things personally or getting triggered into his/her own tumultuous inner world. This is called “holding space” for the other. Practice compassion with each other. After all, they don’t call it a life-long JOURNEY for no reason. It’s what we learn along the way that makes the lesson so valuable.
I read a quote recently by Molly Friedenfeld that really touched me. It read: “If someone is facing a difficult time, one of the kindest things you can do for him or her is to say, ‘I’m going to love you through this.'” Understanding that if you or your partner is having “projection episodes”, it doesn’t mean they’re f*cked up, or they don’t love you. It just means they’re looking to heal something deep inside that’s been buried for years, even decades perhaps. The deeper the love, the more fear it brings about of losing that which is so precious. Projections are a way of escaping. Understand that it takes courage and trust to communicate and consequently heal and let go of old wounds. Always remember that the more intense your urge to change or blame your partner is, the more pain you have around an emotional wound you have denied.
I bless my relationship, which puts me right against my deepest fears and insecurities. I bless the chick in jeans who forced me to look inside and realize there’s much work to be done. We come alone to this world and we die alone as well. The question is what do we choose to hold on to that malnourishes our ego and gives shape to our soul? Understanding where projections brew inside of us and being aware of what our trigger points are, we can communicate more effectively with our partner. Rather than placing the blame on him/her, set an intention of freeing yourself and hope that they find compassion for a wounded heart that is searching for its way to be whole. 💜
Leave your comments below. I’d love to hear your thought on this. Have you ever been through feelings of anger, jealousy, betrayal? How did you deal with them?