Projection and Transference in Relationships

Posted April 28, 2012 in |  Leave a comment

“To love another is to learn that we cannot protect them from suffering, as they cannot spare us.”  James Hollis

If we have not learned this lesson then our relationships are about projection and transference.

Projection is experienced in stages:

1.     We experience feelings of magic as we gaze at “other” and see some unknown part of our Self – often known as “falling in love.”

2.     As the magic slips away we experience disillusionment, and become angry and sad.

3.     We struggle to get back to the feelings of magic by cajoling, nagging, controlling or withdrawing.  This, too, fails.

4.     We withdraw with a broken heart as the fantasy ends.

5.     Sometimes we consciously recognize that the relationship has really been only a projection and, possibly, will not have to repeat the exercise.

Transference is when we judge aspects of “other” as good or bad because they trigger in us earlier “others” or earlier parts of ourselves.  A certain look, a way of walking, a tone of voice, etc, etc. that reawakens a response.  We have all had visceral reactions to someone with no explanation.  We are attributing to them what belongs to someone else in our life.

To uncover projections and transferences in our relationships frees us to “lift the burden of our unconscious traffic off the ‘other’—freeing them to be whomever they are meant to be.”

That is real love and real relationship.



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