When you are caught in transference, you cannot see reality clearly.
Transference happens regardless of your intelligence or emotional stability. It is a deep structure of human relationships. Psychotherapist David Richo says “even without issues with our parents, we would displace, project and transfer, since we are beings who easily slip out of the smart embrace of present reality into the enchanting grip of the imaginary world.” We don’t just transfer our parental stuff, we transfer affection of former partners onto current partners, too.
For these reasons, it’s essential to be aware of how transference shows up in your relationships, and how you tend to respond when it does.
Understand that transference serves an important purpose
Transference is essentially a compulsion to return to our past in order to clear up our old blockages. It has the potential to be destructive.
How to recognize your own transference
The most common clues to transference are:
Look for situations and behaviors which can be counted on to elicit swift and powerful responses; those that don’t seem in any way in line with what is happening.
Transference isn’t always negative. A lot of us transfer positive traits we associated with one or both parents onto new partners, not seeing them clearly for who they are.
Seven types of transference love relationships
On that last note, here are the common types of transference relationships.
They aren’t necessary to be aware of, although you will find it interesting if you are the type of person who seeks to account for their attractions.
(1) A Mother-Oedipal Complex: subconsciously falling in love with someone who reminds you of your mother.
(2) the counter version of that: subconsciously falling in love with the opposite.
(3) A Father-Oedipal Complex: subconsciously falling for or being attracted to someone who reminds us of our father.
(4) the counter version of that.
(5) A Mixed-Oedipal and counter: subconsciously falling in love or being attracted to someone who reminds us of a combination of our mother and father, and/or their opposites.
(6) Narcissistic Transference Complex: falling in love or being attracted to someone who reminds us of ourselves, either in the present, past, or as we wish to be.
(7) A Counter Narcissistic Transference Complex: falling in love or being attracted to someone who we view as being opposite to ourselves, which is likely our subconscious way of saying there is a part of us we wish to unbury and bring alive.
How to deal with transference when it happens
Here are the psychological practices suggested by therapists that help you to work through transferences. These must be combined with the practice of mindfulness.
End this process with a loving-kindness practice. (Internally) meditate on the following: “May you and I love more authentically. May we act from a more enlightened place.”
In the transference based on hope, we ask those we love, often tentatively and indirectly, to provide us with what was missing from the past. We believe others, some others, can indeed be trusted to be there for us. In the transference based on expectation, we require this.