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How long a couple communicates varies from person to person and requires both parties to express their needs and communicate further. The subject raises this question because he is upset about being out of place and wants to keep in touch with his boyfriend every day;

In life, these feelings are common and usually have two commonalities:

1. When you are away from your other half in space, you have a sense of instability in your heart.

2. The other side can not meet our needs for a while, immediately overturn the previous feelings and evaluation of the other side.

This may be a manifestation of a lack of object normality.

We’re going to be apart for five days and I’m going to miss him, but it feels good to be alone. He hasn’t sent me a message yet, he should be too busy, but he always cares about me, I’ll find him later. – Have object normality

It’s been 30 minutes and he hasn’t contacted me yet. Lack of object normality

What is object normality?

“object normality” refers to the “constant normality” that we and the “object” can maintain.

“30 days no contact—-How long should couples contact each other”

1. What is the object?

The subject is the first person’s sense of “self”, while the object is the object outside the subject and pointed to.

There are two kinds of objects: external object and internal object. The external object is the real world outside our body, and the real world is projected in our heart, and the corresponding image is the inner object. 

2. What is constantly?

The constant here mainly refers to the stability of the inner object.

Emotional stability: When we are spatially away from the external object, the mind can still maintain the image of these objects, while still being able to feel a stable intimate feeling between ourselves and the object through the inner object (Fraiberg, 1969). “Even though he and I haven’t been in touch for a while, I can still feel that we’re in love” is an example.

Cognitive stability: The image of an object in our hearts is “consistent” and “stable”, and we do not immediately overturn the previous feelings and evaluations of the other person (Mahler, Pine and Bergman, 1975) because he (external object) cannot meet our needs for a while. For example: “Although he made a mistake, I still think he is a good person.”

3. Object normality is a sign of emotional maturity

The constant of objects means that people have the ability to retain stable images (other than their own) of objects mapped in the mind (Fraiberg, 1969). Even if the external object separates or disappears, the corresponding inner image (inner object) remains relatively stable, and our hearts have a sense of trust in the object.

Lack of object normality, inability to form an “image stable enough” inner object in the heart, or inability to sustain it for long enough, can easily collapse. Our perceptions and feelings with external objects can be violently turbulent due to the separation (e.g. misassignment) of reality. It becomes difficult for people to become truly independent, and once they temporarily lose touch, they become uneasy, and they need to constantly confirm the existence of external objects to be safe and satisfied. At the same time, can not really enjoy the long-term stability of the depth of the sense of association. Unable to retain the inner object, they often waver in their assessment of others, based on their current performance and their own feelings, and cannot tolerate the occasional mistake of others. If others pay very much, most people can trust very much, then the lack of object normality of people is to pay others twenty, to trust very.

Why does someone lack object normality?

“30 days no contact—-How long should couples contact each other”

1. Unpleasant separation experiences in childhood

6-24 months after birth is a key period for the formation of object normality. As infants’ ability to move increases, they can climb away from their dependants and gradually become non-dependent and dependent individuals.

If the dependent agrees on a time to be reunited with the child when he or she is separated from the child and fulfills his or her commitments, the child will have the confidence to wait for the foster person to return. In the process, the baby slowly realizes that he is himself and that the dependent is the dependent. Although sometimes the dependant will not be able to respond to his or her needs promptly, it does not matter and will not have devastating consequences, as the dependent will respond to himself later. In this confidence, the child’s heart begins to form a stable image of the dependent and does not change due to the distance between space and time with the dependent. (Mahler, Pine&Bergman, 1975)。

However, at this stage, the foster care provider adopts the improper separation method, which will hinder the development of the child’s object normality.

Error one: No separation at all

Some fosters are always with the child, always meet his needs in time, and never let the child feel disappointed. Such a separation is not allowed, and the relationship between the child and the object will always be at a standstill in the stage of “symbolism with the dependent”. (Mahler, Pine and Bergman, 1975), they were unable to get exercise, and gradually produced images of the foster person in their hearts when the dependent was away, thus not being allowed to form object normality.

Error 2: Force separation directly

Separation is a complex experience for children. On the one hand, they are happy to explore the world, but on the other, they are anxious and afraid to leave the dependents on which they depend (Mahler, Pine and Bergman, 1975).

Therefore, a good separation process requires the foster care home to “still appear when needed”. It’s a safe foundation for separation, and children know it and can temporarily put aside the anxiety of separation to experience the world for themselves (Mahler and Furer, 1969).

2. The parent’s response as he or she grows up has been lukewarm

Children must accumulate enough warm experience and believe that warmth is the norm in life. In this way, the child will not because of small separation or unhappy, will shake their own heart stable and beautiful, about the “object” image.

It is also because there are enough good experiences, children will forgive the care of some of the fault, self-harm, etc., they slowly form a “rational integration of contradictions” ability, they go through some inner struggle, began to accept the concept of “defective, but good enough.” (Ainsworth & Bell ,1970)。

3. Painful separation experiences as adults

Mahler (1971) points out that the development of object normality does not end completely early in life. Our relationship with the object will change over the years.

When we grow up, we will have relationships and feelings with more objects. If forced to suddenly separate from the object of their attachment. For example, the death of a loved one, a break-up, a lost pet, or a family move. People’s basic understanding of the outside world may be challenged by these traumas (Tedeschi and Calhoun, 2004), that is, if we grow up with unexpected traumatic experiences with the object, our object’s normality can also be undermined (Mahler, 1971).

How to improve the object’s normality

The good news is that there is still a chance of improvement in the object’s normality as an adult.

1. Cognitive changes:

People who lack objects constantly usually have a “too fast conclusion” way of thinking. Creating negative emotions in interaction with the outside world may immediately set negative comments about the outside world and yourself. Greenberger, Padesky and Beck propose a seven-step approach to improving thinking (Mind over Mood, 2015):

Situation: Now you have a strong emotional scene.

eg. Lovers from different places don’t contact me all day.

Emotions: Emotions now.

eg. Fear, anxiety and panic.

Naturally emerging ideas: Because of this scene, you naturally have some ideas about others and yourself.

eg. He left me behind. I don’t deserve to be loved.

Evidence to support these ideas: What’s really happening makes you think they’re true.

eg. He didn’t say exactly when he would reply to me, and I kept confiscating his information.

Evidence that these ideas are not supported:

eg. He always cares about my feelings, and if I have any difficulties, he always responds positively to me.

Balanced ideas: New ideas that arise after comparing evidence on both fronts.

eg. It’s not good that he doesn’t talk all the time, but it’s probably not that he doesn’t want to talk to me, but that he can’t pull away for the time being.

Evaluate current emotions: Are there any changes in moods or new emotions.

eg. worry and worry, not unbearable panic.

2. Emotional change

New relationships may give birth to new perceptions of relationships (Harms, 2011). Find someone who can keep their promises and be emotionally stable and build long-term relationships with them.

This person is not necessarily an intimate object, but may also be a close friend. Even if it is difficult to find such a person in daily life and establish a stable long-term relationship with them, a similar long-term relationship with a psychologist may have the same effect (Harms, 2011). In these long-term relationships, one may be able to re-examine one’s inertial thinking about the object.

Simply put, the constant nature of the object, which allows people to maintain inner peace and stability in the face of change, is one of the secrets to happiness in successfully coping with the changes of the world.

May you and I all grow into more peaceful people.

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