There is a need to learn how to say no in a way that strengthens love rather than destroys it. Analyst Peter Schellenbaum contends that if partners do not learn to say no in a lover relationship, they will soon forget how to say yes, which soon creates an inability to communicate with one another.
Maintaining one’s identity while becoming involved in the emotional life of another has become a particular challenge for modern couples. Schellenbaum explores the problem of boundaries within intimacy in both successful and unsuccessful relationships.
From a Jungian point of view, he offers insight into delimitation and surrender in the erotic relationship. The author marks the progress of love relationships from the beginning, with all the enthusiasms and unbounded hopes, through to the shrinking back to more realistic everyday dimensions.
He explores three developmental stages in emotional relationships: Fusion, where the distinction between the two personalities is blurred; Projection, where the unconscious parts of oneself are erroneously cast onto the other, thereby separating individuals from each other and their surrounding; and mutual reflection of the guiding image, wherein the beloved becomes a guiding image reflecting previously unknown possibilities for loving.