What’s Your Love Story?

There are many (many) ways to try to understand, make sense of, and explain personalities and (personal) relationships. Over the years, I’ve become somewhat familiar with quite a few models, approaches, and (typological) systems – and think that regardless of which may be most appropriate for anyone at anytime, it is important to consider that humans are essentially “story creatures” (who crave, craft, and create story context and content to explain and entertain, make meaning, and share with others). We literally live out and live into the stories and metaphors of our lives – both finding ourselves and losing ourselves in the process of becoming ourselves (as storyteller, audience, or story character).

Songs, dance, poetry, literature, movies, plays, and many other forms of art and learning are usually based on or about a story (of one kind or another). So are dreams and much of what we are taught, think, and believe. People like and relate to stories. Perceptions and sense of time, events, and reality are usually little more than stories we tell ourselves and others.

You can often count on someone re-counting, reliving, and living out his-story almost any chance given. His-story is most often by Victor (the winner). Her-story often remains unknown (like Victoria’s Secret). The “loser” is not the only thing lost by a unilateral account of events (be they historical, hysterical, or histrionic). Stories also adapt, evolve, and change over time, with each new retelling (or audience) – and yet archetypes remain.

The (mythic) “Hero’s Journey” of individuals is well-known – and is a script staple of Hollywood films. Less well-known or considered are the shared stories and group dreams of societies, organizations, families and couples. Even fully “awakened”, “aware”, and “autonomous” individuals exist within context of a greater group dream/story (or song line). The uni-verse is all there is: one (unified/inter-connected) verse, vibration, song, or story (of ever-emerging expressive energy intelligence).

Most stories contain aspects of one or more seven basic plots:

    1. Overcoming a Monster or Thrilling Escape from Death
    2. Rags to Riches
    3. The Quest
    4. Voyage and Return
    5. Comedy
    6. Tragedy
    7. Rebirth – From Shadow into Light

When it comes to relationships, there is a lot of benefit in thinking of life, love, and relationships as (just) a story. It’s not only helpful to be aware of what our (personal and joint) story is, but also what we get from it, and how it does or does not serve us (or others).

Who might we be without our story (in it’s current form)?

Like many things in life, personal relationships at their core are not rational; they are basically just stories (within stories). Almost everything in life is composed of holons – which are whole parts made up of and part of other whole parts (like letters, words, sentences, paragraphs, and this blog – or atoms, molecules, cells and my body). As with multiple DNA sequence combinations from just 4 simple variables, (relationship) holons can combine, recombine, and vary over time to create an almost infinite variety of individual expression – and yet still have often very recognizable patterns.

Different people (and especially partners) bring out different stories in us. If the stories are incompatible, love (and many aspects of life) will be difficult, if not impossible. Asking most people what their (love/life) stories seldom helps, because people usually are not consciously aware of (many of) the (subconscious) stories that influence them. The same is true regarding values. When asked, most people will instead reply with their ideals rather than the actual values that determine their thinking, choices, and behavior – that often does not match what they think they “value”.

A LOT can be known about someone by determining their values – and their stories.

Most people are living out more than one story (sometimes at the same time). What matters most, besides recognizing ours, and choosing to write an ending we like, is ensuring that people in our lives are, if not on the same page, at least in the same story. Many relationship problems are actually the result of disagreements about which story love, marriage, parenting, family, etc. is being acted out/shared.

Changing a (love/life) story can be very uncomfortable. People generally seek to confirm, rather than to dis-confirm, what they already believe – and will go to great lengths to ignore inconsistent information.

Part of “the work” is to reflect upon, reexamine, and reevaluate our story – and who we would be without it. Contemplation and questioning from various points of view are ways to loosen the grip of identification with both stories and beliefs – freeing the mind and individual to consciously choose rather than mainly think, feel, and act from unconscious “programming”. People tend to keep old stories, even when they are no longer useful in, adaptive to, or reflective of, current circumstances (or supportive of desired ones).

Most “love laundry (wish) lists” that we carry around with us are not worth much – and are as likely to be based on what we feel we should want as on what we really want. We can only figure out what we really want if we understand our ideal story.

To figure out what we (truly) desire, it helps to consider all of our past relationships – and ask ourselves what attributes the people to whom we feel most attracted have in common, and what attributes are shared by those to whom we were once attracted but are no longer.

Sometimes all the ingredients we seek are present in our (current or previous) partner, and by becoming more conscious of what we actually desire our old or existing partner can come to be our new one – but to change our relationships fundamentally, we need to become aware of our (current) love stories and re-plot the endings.

Below are 29 Common Love Stories (that couples tend to share). There are others – but chances are that YOU share at least one of these:

The Travel Story
Theme: Life is a journey; Companions travel together)
Complimentary Roles: Two (or more) Travelers

The travel story is one of the oldest and most common stories – viewing both life and love as a journey – that people take together. There are many different possible destinations, perhaps an unlimited number. Individuals, couples, and groups often choose their desired destination – but the main emphasis is usually not less on the destination, but on how to get there, where to stop along the way, and at what speed to take the journey. In many instances, a couple may decide that the destination doesn’t much matter, because they are in the relationship to enjoy traveling together rather than to obsess over the particular place in which they hope to end up.

Travel stories tend to succeed as long as they represent a process of becoming. Because traveling is the theme of the story, arrival poses a problem rather than providing any kind of a goal or final state for the relationship. Should the couple actually ever arrive at the destination they set out for, they would likely become bored and need either a fresh destination or a fresh relationship.

Travel relationships have great potential for success, so long as a couple can agree on a path, a rate at which to go along the path, and perhaps a destination. Often the decisions about where to go and how to get there change along the way. More important than the decision itself is that both members of the couple support the decision and work to implement it.

Typically, the two roles in a travel story are coordinate – two travelers passing through life together. Within this framework, there can be many differentiations. For example, one may more often serve as guide or navigator, while the other is pilot or perhaps passenger. The roles complement each other if the two individuals can agree, at some level, on what will be.

Travel relationships tend to be dynamic and focus on the future. They may or not involve planning, but if they do, then the couple needs a coordinated strategy in order to do the planning.

The greatest risk in a travel story is that over time one or both partners will change the destination or path they desire. At this point, they may feel as though their paths are diverging. When people speak of growing apart, they often mean that the paths they want to travel along are no longer the same ones.

Love Story Indicators

The Teacher-Student Story
Theme: Life is a school; Learn lessons; Teach each other
Complimentary Roles: Teacher and Student

If the partners share roles of teacher and student, they can learn a lot from each other and potentially maintain a balance of power in the relationship. If one partner is always the teacher and the other always the learner, there is bound to be an imbalance of power in the relationship in favor of the teacher.

Love Story Indicators

The Adventure Story
Theme:Exploring Possibilities
Complimentary Roles: Explorers
Life and relationships can be though if and lived as an adventure – full of possibilities to be explored and discovered. The Adventure story is similar to a combination of the Travel Story and the Teacher-Student Story – but is different and distinct in its emphasis.

Love Story Indicators

The Dance Story
Theme: Partnership, Expression, Connection
Complimentary Roles: Dance Partners; Leader and Follower

A love partnership is much like a dance – moving in harmony to the rhythm of music made or heard together. Although one partner may lead and the other follow, the partnership is ideally equal and balanced – allowing each to shine on their own and together – and neither should feel like a passive puppet or a truck driver. Difficulties are usually the result of partners dancing on their own rather than together – with differences in timing, weak connection, or resistance to the role of each in the moment. One may be the picture and the other the frame or they may dance side by side as a teammates.

Love Story Indicators

The Fantasy Story
Theme: Unrealistic (romantic) fairy tales where they lived happily ever after
Complimentary Roles: Prince and Princess

The fantasy story is perhaps the most classical love story – quite common in mythology and fairy tales. It is the story of the prince (or knight in shining armor) and the princess in search of each other. Once they find each other, they are, of course, supposed to live happily ever after. People who hold this story are likely to view their partner as their dream come true. Fantasy stories, like any other, do not always play out or end as expected.

It is more difficult to maintain the role of prince or princess once one’s partner gets to know one better, but its not impossible. Sometimes this kind of image is maintained not because of what the partner is like, but in spite of it.

Individuals with a fantasy story are in search of a prince (knight) or a princess. Sometimes they find the partner of their dreams; more often they do not, or they find a person they initially think is the person of their dreams, only to discover that this is not so. Even if they find the person they have been dreaming of and are relatively happy, they may start fantasizing again, because fairy tales aren’t really about living happily ever after (remember the happily-ever-after part of any classic fairy tale has only one line devoted to it) but are about the search for the partner, often in the face of overwhelming odds.

Either the prince or the princess, or both, may be more in love with the idea of the fantasy than with any particular instantiation of it. The result may be a series of repeated dis-illusionments, as in cases like this almost no relationship can meet the standards to which it is being subjected.

Fantasy roles may convert the prince and princess, at the time of union, into king and queen, after the partners have spent some time together. The problem is that the roles of king and queen almost never have quite the excitement that the roles of prince and princess have. As a result, when the roles start to convert, one or both partners may start to feel dissatisfied. Ironically, the dissatisfaction may not actually be with the partner, but rather with the new roles that a long term relationship bestows upon both individuals.

The fantasy story can be a particularly powerful one. The individual may feel swept up in the emotion of the search for the perfect partner or of developing the perfect relationship with a partner who has been found. The fantasy may continue forever, but probably only so long as the relationship feels as if it is in a process of becoming, rather than a completed product. It is probably no coincidence that in literature most fantasy stories take place before or outside of marriage….

The greatest potential disadvantage is the possibility for disillusionment when one or the other partner discovers that no one could fulfill the fantastic expectations that have been created. This lack of realism can lead partners to feel dissatisfied with relationships that most others would view as quite successful.

To the extent that a couple can create a fantasy story based on realistic rather than idealistic ideals, they have the potential for success; to the extent that they want to be characters in a myth, chances are that’s exactly what they’ll get: a myth.

Love Story Indicators

The Garden Story
Theme: We reap what we sow; Plant and nurture what you want to grow
Complimentary Roles: Gardeners; Gardener and Flower

The relationship is viewed as a garden that needs continually to be nurtured and otherwise cared for. This kind of relationship is, in some ways, the opposite of some versions of the happily-ever-after fairy tale, where the view is that little or nothing needs to be done in order to ensure the happy continuation of the relationship once it has begun. In garden stories, one or both partners strongly believe that the relationship will survive and thrive only if it is carefully watered, provided with abundant sun, and never allowed to become choked with weeds or attacked by garden pests.

Garden stories tend to be highly adaptive, because almost anything – whether an object or a person – will tend to fare better if it is cared for, and care is what gardening stories are about.

The partners take relatively little for granted and do what they can to ensure that the relationship will flourish and survive the various kinds of adversity that are inevitable in life.

These relationships are particularly likely to become what is sometimes called companionate, where the partners view each other as best friends.

What such relationships may lack in passion, they may more than make up for in durability.

The biggest advantage of a garden story is its recognition of the importance of caring and nurturance. No other kind of story involves quite the constant caring and attention that is found in a garden relationship.

The biggest potential disadvantage is the danger that, over time, a lack of spontaneity or even boredom will develop.

A second potential disadvantage is that of smothering – that the attention just becomes too much, or too all-consuming.

Love Story Indicators

The Cookbook Story
Theme: Recipes (as magic formulas) for success; Follow directions; Use the right ingredients
Complimentary Roles: Cooks; Chefs; Chef and Cook

If they follow a recipe – the relationship is almost certain to work out. In this story, relationships succeed because they follow certain, fixed steps, and the key is to figure out what theses steps are, what order to enact them in, and how to enact them effectively.

This story is the one that fuels much of the market for popular books on how to make relationships work. The problem, of course, is that these books are likely to work effectively only for those who hold a cookbook story.

The cookbook story is an exceedingly popular one, as shown by the market for pop psychology books. Indeed, we are often brought up believing that there should be a “right” way to run a relationship, and hence that our problem is to figure out what this “right” way is.

Well-structured problems have a clear and correct path to a solution, whereas ill-structured problems do not. Recipes such as those found in pop psychology books for improving relationships assume that the problem of how to form a loving relationship is a well-structured problem. For most people, though, it isn’t.

There are plenty of forces in our environment to socialize us into believing that life’s problems should have a single right answer, whether they do or not. It should therefore not be surprising that the cookbook story is a popular one.

Some people prefer to independently arrive at a solution to their problem, whereas other people prefer to be told what to do. Many couples with cookbook stories prefer to be told what to do and, once having decided on a course of action, want to keep doing the same thing over and over again.

But there are couples who basically make their own recipe. Once the recipe is in place, however, they may be as rigid in following it as other couples would be who take their recipes from others. Probably the most successful “cookbook couples” are those who are flexible, changing the recipe over time and when they enter into a new relationship.

The two principal complimentary roles always involve two people working together to prepare a dish (their relationship) based on a recipe. What differs across relationships is what the recipe is and where it originates. Cooks take their recipes from the outside; chefs make up their own recipes. In the case of a chef and a cook, one person takes most of the responsibility for coming up with the recipe, the other for actually cooking it up.

Cookbook stories have as their greatest advantage the idea that there is a more or less well-defined strategy for making the relationship work, and it is even out in the open. People know what they are supposed to do and usually whether they are doing it.

There is also a kind of idealism about this kind of relationship that can give people hope: Even if they have not found the right recipe, there is always the possibility they will.

The greatest potential disadvantage of the cookbook story is rigidity: The couple gets locked into a recipe that does not work for them, or one that once worked for them but that is no longer working. Cookbook stories probably have their greatest success when the partners are flexible in the creation and implementation of their recipes.

Another potential disadvantage, as implied above, is not knowing when to quit.

Love Story Indicators

The Sewing and Knitting Story
Theme: Custom made, tailored, patched together piece by piece)
Complimentary Roles: Tailor and Seamstress (Knitters, Weavers, Quilters); Designer and Client

Love is viewed as whatever the couple makes it; it is completely a construction. People create relationships much as they create garments. The design you choose to sew or knit, and how you choose to sew or knit it, is up to you. You can follow a pre-established pattern, or you can design your own pattern, but in either case, it is your decision, along with that of your partner. And each relationship, just like each garment, is unique in both its design and its process of construction.

Each couple creates its own unique relationship in its own unique way.

This kind of relationship probably can succeed only when both partners are willing to create their own unique relationship. If one partner feels bound to convention and the other does not, there is likely to be a great deal of frustration for both persons.

The sewing and knitting story is one of the most creative kinds of stories, at least potentially. It allows for a recognition for all the choices that a couple may make in determining where their relationship goes.

Love Story Indicators

The Business Story
Theme: Partners, boss and/or employees
Complimentary Roles: Business Partners; Employer and Employee

A relationship is run much like a business. An individual is attracted to a mate as a potential “business partner”, who is evaluated largely in terms of his or her suitability in this role.

Love Story Indicators

The Government Story
Theme: Love is about power – shared or imposed
Complimentary Roles: Governor and Governed; Power Sharers; Power Avoiders

In an autocratic relationship, one partner takes on virtually all the power. He or she makes the decisions, and then decides how the decisions are to be implemented, who will implement them, and where and when they will be implemented. In these relationships, one person essentially becomes the governor, or autocratic ruler, and the other becomes the governed, or subject.

Government relationships can also be democratic and egalitarian, in which case power is more or less equally shared between the partners. In a democratic relationship, some decisions may be made primarily or even exclusively by one or the other partner. The principle is equal distribution of power on average, not necessarily equal voice in every single decision made.

Less common…is anarchic. No one takes responsibility for solving problems or making decisions; each partner is usually hoping that the other will be the responsible one.

All relationships involve allocations of power. These allocations are clearer in government-driven relationships than in other kinds.

Love Story Indicators

The House and Home Story
Theme: Caretakers and homebodies
Complimentary Roles: Caretaker and Care Recipient

The home is the center of the relationship. People with a house and home story view the home as the physical center of their relationship, and sometimes the emotional center as well.

The home becomes something more than just a place to live. It serves as a focal point to channel attention and even affection that may somehow have gotten displaced from the relationship.

Love Story Indicators

The History Story
Theme: Time together = memories; shared past
Complimentary Roles: Historians; Historian and Historical Personage

The present is defined in large part by the past. Couples with a history story view the present as a culmination of past events and see the past as living on in the present.

The historian thinks a lot about both the events of the past and the continuities and discontinuities between the past and the present.

Historians know what makes history is not simply a record of past events. Instead, history resides in the selection, interpretation, and integrative analysis of these events.
Similarly, in relationships, it is not so much what has happened but what has been learned from what has happened that can either help to make or help to break a relationship.

Love Story Indicators

The Theater Story
Theme: Scripted, Drama!, Actors, roles
Complimentary Roles: Actor and Audience

One or both partners see themselves as acting out parts. Love follows one of a number of scripts, often with highly structured lines, scenes, and acts.

Everything seems to go according to script.

In the theater story, almost everything, down to the smallest details of an interaction, is planned as much as possible in advance, not only for effect but for a non-scripted appearance.

To the person who serves as the audience in the theater story, the whole relationship can rather suddenly take on the air of artificiality and hypocrisy. But for the actor, however, scripts are what relationships are about.

Love Story Indicators

The Humor Story
Theme: Funny!, entertainment, amusement
Complimentary Roles: Comedian and Audience

The humor story tends to be a lighthearted one, in which one or both participants like to see the funny side of things.

A humor story is characterized by the view that love is strange and in many ways funny.

One of the biggest risks that relationships face is stagnation. People simply become bored. The humor story provides one way to avoid boredom, because the possibilities for new humorous adventures in a relationship are essentially endless. If there is a risk, it is that always seeing the humorous side of things will itself become dull.

Love Story Indicators

The Mystery Story
Theme: Unsolved
Complimentary Roles: Sleuth and Mystery Figure

The mysterious aspects of a relationship predominate. Historically, romance has always been associated with an air of mystery. Indeed, part of what makes the early stages of love so exciting is the air of mystery they carry. Each day may reveal new insights about one’s partner. People with a mystery story hope never to see an end of this excitement. Most other people, on the other hand, expect the more mysterious aspects of their relationship to start to fade as the relationships begin to deepen and trust replaces mystery.

People with a mystery story believe that mystery is an important component of love, and that one shouldn’t let too much of oneself be known. At the very least, revelations should be gradual, and should not be made lightly.

The sleuthing aspect of love can, in fact, generate a lot of excitement. When you love someone, finding out about the individual is one of the most satisfying experiences you can have.

People with a mystery story want the mystery never to end.

Many people like mystery stories, and they can like mystery relationships for much the same reason – they maintain interest.

Love Story Indicators

The Science Story
Theme: Analytical, dissection, examination
Complimentary Roles: Scientist and Object of Study

People who hold a science story believe that love in general can and should be understood, analyzed, and dissected much like other natural phenomenon.

A person with a science story believes that love can be understood through analysis and dissection. The person is likely to believe in his or her ability not only to understand but to predict and even control the behavior of the partner.

Scientists differ in their objectivity, both with respect to others and with respect to themselves.

The role of scientist only ensures the existence of an interest in scientific analysis, not the quality of that analysis.

A person who can successfully apply scientific analysis in one domain does not necessarily apply it equally successfully in another domain. Thus, the fact that someone is a successful scientist on the job does not mean that this person will be a successful scientist in his or her intimate relationships.

A distinction is sometimes made between interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence. The two kinds of intelligence show very little relationship to each other, so the fact that one can successfully analyze others’ behavior does not imply that one will successfully analyze one’s own behavior, and vice versa.

Love Story Indicators

The Art Story
Theme: beauty, attractiveness, admiration
Complimentary Roles: Admirer and Work of Art

The individual views the partner as a work of art, dwelling on his or her overall physical appearance, or on aspects of it.

In the art story, individuals tend to love their partners for their physical attractiveness.

There is a constant in what people find physically attractive. This constant is not exactly what people might expect.

What we find most attractive is the exact average – literally, a prototype of physical features.

The greater the number of averaged faces an image represented, the larger the number of people who found that face attractive. In other words, attractiveness is a kind if golden mean of the faces we have seen. The pursuer of art will usually be looking for someone who looks like everyone else – but more so!

The only factor that reliably predicted whether the couple enjoyed their first date and wanted to date again was physical attractiveness!

Love Story Indicators

The Collection Story
Theme: Show off your prize/toy/trophy spouse
Complimentary Roles: Collector and Collectible

One’s partner is chosen because of the way he or she fits into some overall collection.

Partners (usually there are more than one) are viewed as fitting into some overall scheme.

The collection story is the most explicitly polygamous. It is rare for someone having this story to be satisfied with only one relationship.

The individual prefers to maintain emotional distance from partners.

The collector finds ways of meeting multiple needs. Usually these needs will be met in parallel – by having several intimate relationships at the same time – but a collector may also enter into serial monogamous relationships, where each successive relationship meets a need or set of needs that the last relationship did not.

The collector may find it difficult to establish intimacy with, passion for, and commitment toward a single individual.

Collections can also become expensive, time-consuming, and in some cases illegal.

Love Story Indicators

The Game Story
Theme: Competition; winners and losers
Complimentary Roles: Winner and Loser

There is a winner and a loser. Thus the game story involves a kind of competition. Gamesters tend to be competitive.

Games can easily become destructive and be inherently unfair when not everyone knows that a game is being played or, if they do know, what the rules are.

Because games typically involve two people playing against each other, there is likely to be a winner and a loser.

Love Story Indicators

The War Story
Theme: Marriage is a battle; lots of arguments and fights
Complimentary Roles: Conquering Warriors and Vanquished Warriors

A couple views love as a series of battles in a war – often, a prolonged and devastating war. The curious thing is that if both partners have this view, they may be quite happy in what appears to others to be an awful relationship.

A good relationship is about fighting.

Love Story Indicators

The Police Story
Theme: Law enforcement and punishment
Complimentary Roles: Police Officer and Subject

One does not have to be a police officer to think like one.

Police officers in relationships view it as their responsibility to enforce the laws of the relationship, which they often view as coming from some kind of natural or societal law, but which, more typically, are of their own creation.

The police officer may invent punishments for infractions of the laws, and in cases of perceptions of extreme violation of these laws, the safety of the police officer’s partner may be in jeopardy.

The key feature of the police story is the unremitting surveillance that is directed by one partner toward the other. This surveillance goes beyond the usual interest in a partner’s activities, and beyond any kind of reasonable interest in the partner’s welfare. The interest is driven by a seemingly unquenchable need for control that reduces the partner to a humiliating role, almost without regard to what the partner does.

The police story can start off being one person’s story and end up being both person’s story, almost without the second partner even realizing what is happening. As the second partner more and more plays the role of suspect, or even of prisoner, the role can become self confirming and take on a kind of bizarre reality – as though one deserves to be suspected of various crimes.

Attempts by the suspect to escape the role are often viewed as another crime – that of the prisoner trying to escape his or her punishment. To the police officer, the ultimate crime is the attempt to free oneself of the relationship.

Treated guilty regardless of whether he or she has committed the crime, the person may internalize the view of him or herself projected by the police officer, and thereby start to act in the ways that are expected of him or her.

Police stories do not have very favorable prognoses because of their susceptibility to continued escalation and departure from any kind of adaptive reality.

Love Story Indicators

The Science-Fiction Story
Theme: Unusual, strange, “unreal”; Aliens from other planets
Complimentary Roles: Alien and Human

People with a science-fiction story either feel like they keep ending up with partners who are about as strange as a partner can possibly be, or feel themselves to be exceedingly strange and different from others and want to be with someone who values their extreme strangeness.

People with a science-fiction story gravitate toward partners who are strange and incomprehensible to them – the more so, the better. Being “strange and incomprehensible” is, of course, a subjective judgment. Others may find the partners rather normal, or not very normal but easy to understand.

Love Story Indicators

The Pornography Story
Theme: Sex, degradation, debasement
Complimentary Roles: Subject and Object

The pornography story is a story of degradation and debasement.

Love is dirty, and without dirt, it’s just not appealing.

Love Story Indicators

The Horror Story
Theme: Terror! abuse, victim
Complimentary Roles: Terrorizer and Victim

The relationship is appealing to an individual because he or she either is terrorizing a partner or is being terrorized by a partner. The individuals like to scare, or be scared of, their partner.

In general, different love stories are just that – different; they are not “good” or “bad”. But a horror story comes about as close as one can get to a story that is bad, or at the very least maladaptive, for a variety of reasons.

Love Story Indicators

The Addiction Story
Theme: Enablers?
Complimentary Roles: Addict and Codependent

An individual feels addicted to his or her partner, much in the same way the individual might feel addicted to a drug.

The key feature of the addiction story is strong, anxious attachment to a partner, or the need to have such an attachment. Once the person becomes attached, he or she seems to cling for dear life.

Different kinds of love involve different combinations of intimacy, passion, and commitment.

Love Story Indicators

The Recovery Story
Theme: Co-dependence?
Complimentary Roles: Recoverer and Codependent

The recovery story is one of survival. The individual has been through some kind of trauma and seeks recovery through a relationship.

The recovery story is a risky one for both partners. The characteristic mode of thinking for the person in recovery is that he or she has survived something and is ready to move on.

One potential problem us that sometimes the person wants to recover but may not actually succeed.

A second risk in such relationships is that the recovery will be extremely painful for both parties and tear the relationship apart.

A third risk is that if the person does actually recover, the role of the codependent will no longer make sense.

The fourth and perhaps greatest risk is that the relationship will be built on a foundation of illness rather than health.

Love Story Indicators

The Sacrifice Story
Theme: Selfless martyrdom to help the other
Complimentary Roles: Sacrificer and Beneficiary

All close relationships involve occasional sacrifices made by one partner for the other. In a sacrifice story, however, one individual consistently makes sacrifices, or views him or herself as making sacrifices, for the other. The giving of self is part of what drives the love, and the individual is not really happy unless he or she is primarily in the role of giver rather than taker.

Love of God may have this character, whereby sacrifice can be part of the relationship a person sees him-or herself as having with God or some other deity.

Sacrifice relationships can and frequently do also involve children, parents, or other relations.

People with a sacrifice story typically give without much hope or even expectation of equal return – or they may feel that the return they get is from their giving.

A key feature of the sacrifice is that those who hold it often see it as a necessity rather than as a choice.

Most commonly, one individual occupies the sacrificer role all the time, and the other individual always takes the role of beneficiary. Less commonly, when both people are sacrificers, it will typically be in different domains. Relationships of all kinds tend to be happiest when they are roughly equable.

Love Story Indicators

The Religion Story
Theme: Salvation?
Complimentary Roles: Coreligionists; Savior and Salvation Seeker

Religion is an integral part of the story of a loving relationship.

In the second kind of the religion story, the religion, in effect, is the relationship.

The religion story either views love as serving the function of a religion or views religion as an integral part of love. In the other case, religion is a critical part of the relationship.

In one case, love is salvation. We seek through another person the salvation we cannot find in any other way. In the other case, only religion can bring salvation, but love of another person can help make one’s life much richer, and also help one fulfill one’s responsibilities toward God.

Love Story Indicators

The Nurturing Story
Theme: Healing Each Other; Repairing the World
Complimentary Roles: Doctor/Nurse/Therapist and Patient; Repairmen

Partners may assist each other to recover and heal from the past, become whole, and grow into the future – or they may focus on repairing and improving the the world around them. Roles may vary from each being an equal healer, one as provider and one as recipient of care, or one as primary provider and the other as an assistant or complimentary role (like doctor and nurse) caring for others or the environment. The approach and focus of both the relationship and the healing or repair desired may be specific or more holistic.

Love Story Indicators

Statements corresponding to each story above that might make it easier for you to better recognize (and relate to) the listed stories and role. Check out YOUR Love Story Indicators.

The length and strength of relationships can often be predicted by how each partner tells their story (as a couple) – especially how they met. Many things in life often continue and end much as they start – just as a body in motion will continue in motion (and along the same path) unless acted upon in some way. It may be very helpful for couples to each write down and compare their individual versions of their shared story (thus far) – and how they would like it to play out and/or end (up). This is not the same as scripting a theater story, but it does help to know that each person is on the same page and in the same story as the other. Love stories are ongoing and can always be changed.

Are you aware of YOUR personal narrative and the context your relationship(s) explore?

What is your role in your the stories you are living out of and into?

As the author or storyteller, all that is needed to change how a story ends is to be aware of what the story has been so far, where you are in it, and where you’d like to end up.

Whatever stories YOU relate (or choose to stick) to, thank you for being part of MINE!