From “The Emotional Incest Syndrome” by Patricia Love with Jo Robinson.
NOTE: SENSITIVE SUBJECT MATTER concerning sexual problems that stem from enmeshment with a parent. Please make note of it. For mature readers only.
The Relationship Problems of the Chosen Child
(The child within a relationship of enmeshment with a parent.)
From pages 51 – 55:
(BUY THE BOOK if you find this relevant to you!
This is a gross condensing of the main points of the text!)
Fear of Commitment
“I do just fine with women right up to the point where the word 'commitment' is mentioned. Then I feel like turning and running away. The thought of living with just one woman for the rest of my life sends me into a cold sweat.”
Problems with love relationships are the rule rather than the exception for the adult Chosen Child, and one of the most common problems is a fear of intimacy and commitment. To a person who was bound up with an engulfing parent, any close relationship can feel like an invasion. I see this trait quite frequently in men who were the favorite sons of aggressive, domineering mothers.
Lack of Romantic Attraction
Woman: “I am married to a wonderful man. He goes out of his way to please me. I couldn't ask for anything more. Yet, I'm always dissatisfied. I keep wondering, 'Where's the magic? Isn't there more to love than this?'”
Man: “I've been married three times, and I'm about to sign up for number four. I've never found what I'm looking for in a woman. All my wives have disappointed me.
The normal parent-child bond is powerful in and of itself; when it is amplified by enmeshment, it becomes all-encompassing. Unwittingly, some Chosen Children go through life trying to recapture this intensity...
Conflicts Between the Spouse and Parent
“Ten years ago, I bought a house with my mother and moved in with her. At the time, it made good financial sense. Now that I'm married, my wife wants us to move out and get a house of our own. She hates living with my mom. But my mother won't buy me out, and she won't let me buy her out. This dilemma is ruining my marriage.”
If the Chosen Child remains attached to the parent after marriage, the marital relationship automatically becomes a triangle, with both the parent and the spouse vying for control. This is the stuff of melodrama and TV talk shows.
Attraction to Self-Centered Partners
“I've married a very self-centered woman. She always puts herself first. I'm an afterthought in her life.”
It is quite common for the Chosen Child to grow up and marry someone who ignores his needs. This is an unconscious re-creation of the dynamic of the parent-child relationship. Although outwardly treated like royalty, the child is in reality a servant, trained to meet the emotional needs of the parent.
Believing that other people's needs are more important, the Chosen Child typically grows up and falls in love with someone who is unavailable or inattentive to his needs. Over time, the partner's lack of emotional involvement becomes a fresh source of pain. What I have observed time and time again is that one or both adults will turn to a child for support, and the whole cycle starts over again.
“I've had sex with a lot of men, but I'm not highly sexed. In fact, it was many years before I was able to have an orgasm.”
Sexual problems are common among victims of emotional incest. Although there is no sexual contact between the Chosen Child and the parent – primarily because of the incest taboo – the two of them have ventured into the realm of intimate partners. Because they are sharing theirinnermost thoughts and feelings, it is natural for sexual feelings to arise.
This sexual energy must go somewhere. Generally, it takes one of two paths: expression or repression. If the child expresses the sexuality, it may be in the form of excessive masturbation or in promiscuity...
Many children take the opposite path and repress their sexuality. If this repression is reinforced by strict family values or more explicit injunctions (“Stop acting like a slut!”), the repression can lead to sexual restriction, a stiff toll to be exacted on later relationships. The man may be impotent or disinterested in sex.The woman may be afraid of sex or have difficulty achieving an orgasm.
A young woman who had a lot of fear about sex remembers when she was 16 years old and happened to see a boy she knew in front of the local supermarket. It was a hot day, and she was wearing shorts and a tank top. Her father drove by and saw her talking to the boy. Later that day he accused her of acting “like a whore.” You'll get into big trouble if you keep parading yourself around like that, young lady,” he told her. “It was really disgusting. I was embarrassed you were my daughter!” The girl said nothing, but inside she was horribly confused. What had she done wrong? What she had done wrong was demonstrate some interest in the opposite sex and wear clothes that revealed her physical attractiveness. Her father had latched on to this normal adolescent behavior and distorted it because of his over involvement with her. A perfectly natural encounter between his daughter and a young man was seen as a loathsome act.
There are times when a parent's sexual desires go one step beyond projection: they use the child for sexual stimulation. One man told me that when he was 12 years old, his mother used to open the door when he was taking a shower and say, “Don't forget to dry off well when you're finished.” This happened repeatedly despite his protests. A woman said that when she was a teenager, her father was fixated on her breasts; it seemed that whenever he looked at her, his eyes would zero in on her chest. A man told me that his mother would crawl into his bed with him at night and like close to him, well into his adolescent years. Another man told me that his mother called him a “stud” and said he was more sexy than his father. A young woman was “kidnapped” by her father and whisked off to the coast for a company conference, where he treated her as his “date” for the weekend...A man reported being French-kissed by his mother. A girl talked about sleeping in the same bed as her father well into her adolescence; he would go to sleep with his arms and legs wrapped around her.
When children are entangled with a Sexualizing Parent, they have an increased chance of beingsexually victimized in later years. Because a parent has violated their emotional boundaries and aroused their sexuality, they are ideal candidates for “date rape” or other forms of abuse. Nona, a bank manager who has been enmeshed with her father, was later sexually abused by her uncle. Her early experience of being “daddy's pretty baby” had taught her to acquiesce to adults. Although her father had never touched her inappropriately, he had set up the preconditions for victimization.