What Happens When Relationship Roles Morph into Something Else?

This post was written by Rhonda Wasserman

Original content by Ashley Berges

In order to fully understand our relationships, we must completely understand the role we play within the relationship. Often, we begin a relationship in one specific role, and over time it changes and morphs into something completely different. We are unaware of this change because we are so close to the situation. 

We must realize what is happening in the relationship and be mindful of it in order to change back to the original role that we were in.

What happens when we have these role changes in the relationship:

Blurred Boundaries- We go from being a significant other, an equal partner, to something completely different. As a result, we question who we are, who they are, and what we are doing in this relationship. If we have changed roles and gone from a partner to a caretaker, how did we get there and what caused us to take on this other role? It is very important to figure this out, this is where boundaries get blurred and confusion occurs as to what the relationship is about. 

The second thing that happens is that there is a distinct change in the relationship dynamic. It changes the relationship both emotionally and physically. The connection changes for both. For example, when you become the caretaker of someone the physical connection usually dwindles. Hence, you may be feeling bad about your partner’s health, and have gone from one role to another. You are also connecting with them on a different emotional level. You have gone from the emotional connection of a partner to the caretaker’s emotional connection. This will feel very different, and change a lot of your thoughts and actions. 

The third thing a role change does is create unseen barriers between the role you used to play and yourself and barriers between them and their previous role. When we change roles our partners also change roles. It also creates a barrier between the previous mindset and the new mindset. Another barrier created is between the previous actions and the new actions. Everyone gets tangled up and changed into a different program.

If you went from partner to parental figure, having to watch out for something your partner was doing, you know have become like a parent. As a result the emotional connection changes and the physical connection changes, and the way you see the other person is changing. It is hard to see past the new role to where you were previously. 

The fourth thing to point out is that the longer we are in the new role, the longer the new programming exists, the more we get inundated with that programming. As a result,  the more mindfulness and work it takes to get the relationship back on track. The longer we are in the new role the more difficult it feels to be able to go back to the original role of partner. 

If we are in a relationship that has had a role change, we have to understand why did it change, and what was the reason for the change. It is important to know why these things have happened. Consequently, it is time to have a conversation with our spouse about the change.  

We need to ask ourselves how we feel about the change, taking on this new role, and how we feel about this new connection. Remember when we change our role, our partners also change their role to fit in with our role change. 

Finally, the only way to overcome this change and get back to being the partner is to discuss the change with our partner.  This will help to understand how it happened, how it took place, and what we want to change to redevelop the relationship we had. We can then recreate the boundaries that are blurred.

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