Pretenses are an attempt to get Attention, Adoration and Admiration from others. They are ways of acting where we try to convince someone we care for them. The goal is to convince others that we have what they need. This means we are always seeking new ways to gain their interest. What we want is be useful to a partner, so they will desire to engage us. We apply effort to maintain a connection because, essentially, we make Pretenses up to convince ourselves we have something to offer.
They are about reminding others how much we do for them. The challenge is that Pretenses to do not reflect who we are; they distract us from authentic ways of being. Pretenses are always designed to put our best foot forward so others will have a positive first impression. Over time, the Pretense becomes stifling (in the relationship) and we need to re-emphasize and justify it by making it look like we are sacrificing ourselves for our partner's benefit. In this way, Pretenses become a hook or reason why our partners believe they need us.
There are four Pretenses: Expectations, Romantic Mythology, Control and Seduction. In each, we falsely believe our partner needs us more than we need them. In Expectations, we try to confirm that our partner wants what we want. What gets in the way is either not knowing what we want or accepting what someone else wants as a way to keep our own options open.
Pretenses are patterns of personality behavior that we provide in exchange for getting some of our needs met. A Pretense is an unconscious support activity that is a substitute for authentic Autonomy or Intimacy. These four pretenses are substitutes for Autonomy and Intimacy: Expectations (distracts us from requiring either Autonomy or Intimacy): Romantic Mythology (minimizes Autonomy), Control (minimizes Intimacy); and Seduction (denies both completely). Each pretense becomes a fixed position from which those individuals negotiate the best deal they can. A pretense is a false way of being that covers up a weakness by making it appear to be strength. The more our partners believe it is strength, the more we can use it to create what we want in the relationship at their expense. Pretenses are made up or constructed to soften defensive differences. While we may or may not be operating in a way that is defensively aligned with our Pretense(s), a Pretense is always is based on what we perceive our partner needs. We try to leverage our value and make partners beholden to the 'service' we offer on their behalf. We learn Pretenses in the form of parental modeling. One of the challenges in having a Pretense is it reveals an unconscious attempt to gain security (with our partners), because we do not know the value we are bringing to a relationship. Eventually, we learn to create our own security and do not need others to need us to have the kind of relationship we want.
The Attention, Adoration or Admiration we divert upon others, over time, causes us to be resentful, which provides more fuel for our insecurities. Comparative self importance is re-enforced through Pretense behaviors. We use judgments about relative anxieties and how Pretenses are applied to clarify importance rankings. The more we feel we need acceptance and affirmation, the more we will use Pretenses to entangle others. Ironically, this lowers our relative rank compared to them! This form of entanglement pulls both partners down because neither are being authentic or real with the other. The goal is to go unconscious and merge. The more conscious we are, the less we use Pretenses to be connected, because we understand the self-limiting nature of the framework.
The objective is to neutralize all Pretenses, so we no longer deny our natural creativity. To do this we must first notice and accept the degree to which we operate in Pretenses. Second, we need to ‘grok’ the cost of not having authentic creativity and connection, and the loss of energy experienced maintaining Co-Dependent patterns. Pretenses end up being, for many, the only way to feel partially connected to others. Third, we need to evaluate if our partner is able to reduce their Pretenses, as many will feel it degrades their experience of safety and security. To have a choice about how to connect, we need to be an example to our partners. Fourth, in a new relationship we need to operate counter to Pretenses (by neutralizing or counter-applying them) so others cannot lock into our former Pretenses at all. In this course we focus on identifying the three Pretenses we do most in our daily lives: Expectations, Romantic Mythology, and Control. With each process, we describe the patterns, practice revealing them, and provide ways to counter their influence. Since the individuals attracted to this class are not master Seducers, we offer a fourth class that identifies and describes how Seducers work and how to effectively deal with them! Recover Your Energy by Eliminating Pretenses!
Pretenses are identified by the unconscious activities people do to be seen by others. An Expectation Pretense seeks attention. Romantic Mythology seeks adoration. Control seeks admiration. Seduction seeks unconscious merged affirmation and is repulsed when they get it. They use the needs of others to protect themselves. Pretenses are instinctive ways we create unconscious boundaries. We separate our desires from others, and then want them to defer to us to prove we are more important. This unconscious exchange becomes an inverted projection of how we distance ourselves from what we want. While we think we know what we want, we are afraid to be rejected and resist acknowledging this. We use Pretenses to prove that our fears are wrong and end up validating, through our partner's actions, that they will not leave us. The more we see someone compromising themselves for us, we more we believe that our Pretense investments show we deserve their support.
In Control Pretense, we make attention to details and devotion to a timeframe a valuable contribution to our partner, especially if they are not organized. We look to have our expertise valued so we have a greater ability to plan mutual activities. In Seduction, we cycle between complimenting and criticizing our partners so, over time, they start to doubt their capabilities. This makes them dependent upon us.
Pretenses are the most blatant form of self-flattery because we believe we are doing people a favor when we try to influence them. When we do a Pretense, it reinforces a pecking order where we declare (through Pretense affirmations), who is in charge. Pretenses unconsciously reinforce complementary behavioral patterns and make it appear we are a perfect fit for our partners. This is why Expectations individuals are attracted to Seduction pretense people and Romantic Mythology people are attracted to Control Pretense individuals. The longer we do the Pretense, the more likely we will resent ourselves, causing greater difficulty over time, as the way of interacting becomes habitual. Letting go of Pretenses means letting go of the need to be reassured that our partner wants us. This means we need to step into the discomfort of not knowing what they are thinking and find a way to see the exchange as an adventure.