Quick, how many di,verse ways do we have of referring to a couple as a couple? Hollywood brought us cuties like Branjolie and Bennifer. There are the culturally acceptable, if sometimes eye-opening ways that one member of a couple refers laughingly to the their partner, as in, “there’s my better half,” or, “where’s the ball and chain?” There’s even the interesting linguistic problem of how to refer to the person you are currently hooked up with if in fact you have not yet decided to out yourself as a couple, or in merely legal logistics, you aren’t one. As my grandmother, who had lived with her not precisely legal husband for decades sniffed, “significant other,” indeed. Attachment metaphors are significant, as is our need to create a specific way to refer to two people that have decided to make a couple out of their single selves. But, as on psychologist points our as much fun as we have creating a language to describe a unity it never fully takes into account each unique individual in that unity. We no longer see two individuals when we insist that a man named Ben and a woman named Jennifer are now Bennifer. It’s cute, but it denies the reality of two people. People unlike Legos, are not meant unify and become something rigid and new. People remain intrinsically who they are, even when they become a two-fer. Thinking of them as two denies the pain that each one, unlike Legos, feels when the unity dissolves, which is not inevitable, but sadly happens often enough to be axiomatic. Language is powerful and though it gives us a version of the truth, it also suppresses some things and emphasizes others. Metaphors are never exact, or we would not be so enamored of them.
- metaphors aren’t often utilized to replace one denotation for another but to explain meanings by allying ideas that emphasize and deemphasize features.
- Psychologist John Bowlby researched attachment but he was sensitive to the study and avoided using adversative terms like clinging because it carries a negative connotation.
- While zeroing in on the emotions and fears behind anxious attachment, Bowlby discovered such feelings were consistently stirred from unforeseen or susceptible abandonment.
“Attachment, however, imposes ways of thinking about relationships of which we are hardly aware, and which we may not want.”