Introduction to Pretenses

Pretenses are patterns of instinctive behavior that we use with others in exchange for getting some of our needs met. Pretenses are learned behaviors based on what we observed others doing to get the attention they wanted. As teenagers we adopted our Pretenses to get the things we wanted in life. Our Pretenses can grow up with us, as our perceived needs and ways of getting things to change. The four Pretenses are Expectations, Romantic Mythology, Control, and Seduction. Each pretense becomes a fixed position from which we negotiate the best deal we can. A pretense is a way of being that covers up a weakness by making it appear to be a 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.

A Pretense is an unconscious activity that is a substitute for authentic Autonomy or Intimacy. Expectations and Romantic Mythology reflect a compromise in our Autonomy skills because we let others define how we act and what we do. Control and Seduction reflect a compromise in our Intimacy skills because we demand that others conform to us, and how we wish to operate. Expectations allows us to believe that we are helping others by being accountable, predictable and by doing what we say we will do. Romantic Mythology supports us in believing we are helping others by honoring their potential in being all they can be. Control supports us in believing that others need our assistance in keeping their life moving forward and optimally organized. Seduction allows us to believe that others need us more than we need them and they should be grateful for our presence.

Pretenses are easily identified by the unconscious activities people use to try to be seen by others. Expectation Pretense seeks attention. Romantic Mythology Pretense seeks adoration. Control Pretense seeks admiration. Seduction Pretense seeks unconscious approval. The more we feel the need to be accepted, the greater we will use our Pretenses to entangle others. This form of entanglement pulls both parties down because neither of us is being authentic with the other. The goal is for both parties to go unconscious together. We are actually seeking a way to know that our pretense has value in the eyes of the person we seek to influence. The more conscious a person is, the less we use Pretenses to be connected, because we understand the self-limiting nature of participating in a Pretense framework.

Whenever someone reflects one of our own Pretenses back (to us), we begin to appreciate their negative. We often feel impotent and frustrated because others do not need what we are offering. This eventually leads us to seek partners who will not have or use certain Pretenses that we react to. For example, if we perceive that a Pretense of Expectation limits our ability to be spontaneous and free, we may develop a reaction against others trying to create strong agreement about the rules under which we will engage each other. This is identified as having an anti-Expectation aspect. Anti-Expectation is a desire for others to be open and inclusive, and able to respond to circumstances however it seems appropriate at the time. Therefore, each Pretense can have an anti-Pretense reflection where we don’t want to feel trapped by how others do their pretense with us. Anti-Romantic Mythology aspect reflects a desire not to be seen as needing others to see our potential because we believe this reflects that they do not appreciate our power in the moment. Anti-Romantic Mythology is, therefore, a desire to have others honor and esteem us. Anti-Control reflects sensitivity to being at the affect of what others believe is the right and best way to do something. Anti-Control Pretense is a desire to have others treat us with respect. Anti-Seduction reflects our pain at previously being at the affect of others’ great intentions. Anti-Seduction Pretense is a desire to operate free of others’ desires to manipulate or influence us inappropriately. Eventually, we need to let go of our fears of being manipulated by renouncing our need to do any pretenses. As long as we do pretenses, we open ourselves up to being manipulated by others.

Most individuals begin with a pretense of Expectations and expand into other pretenses in order to create more versatility in superficially engaging others. Expectation and Seduction Pretenses are polar opposites and are instinctively attracted to each other, as are Romantic Mythology and Control. The way we can create tension is to adopt opposite Pretenses thus creating unconscious motivations to be with others. When we become frustrated that others we desire do not respond to us, we frequently adopt new pretenses as a way to get noticed by them. Pretenses are reinforced by what we see in relationships around us, movies, books and television. It isn’t until we realize that there is a better way of relating, that we can let go of these in-authentic, manipulative ways of operating. Once we learn about Pretenses and their negative impact in our relationships, it becomes easy to catch ourselves when we are doing one. This makes it easy to start releasing our Pretenses and start consciously connecting in our relationships!

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© Copyright 2016, Larry Byram. All Rights Reserved.

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