Home Couples & Family Psychology Developmental Love Lingers Here: Intimate Enduring Relationships–V. Exploring the Founding Story

Love Lingers Here: Intimate Enduring Relationships–V. Exploring the Founding Story

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Robert indicated that he was a young Air Force officer stationed in Piccadilly who had gotten some R and R time to go to London with a friend. As soon as they reached London, Robert friend joined up with another bunch of airmen, leaving him to fend for himself. Robert decided to get something to eat at the pub, but he was approached by a woman who invited him to a party as soon as he sat down to eat. He soon realized that she was a prostitute. Robert indicated that back then the military was very strict, and he was scared to death that he would get into trouble if caught with a prostitute, so the only thing he could do was ask that pretty young English woman to rescue him. He quickly added, “and she walked my legs off!” Fiona hastened to add that there so many things to show him in London that she just got carried away. When Robert said that the trip cost him 60 pounds, Fiona was quick to say that she contributed 15 pounds “because she wasn’t going to let an American pay for everything.”

Clearly, the pub represented a safe setting in which Robert and Fiona could meet, despite the fact that this was not initially a safe place for Robert, given his confrontation with the prostitute. The central message in this founding story appears to be that when Robert asked Fiona to “show me London,” what he was really saying was “rescue me. I’m in a very awkward situation and I have no one else to turn to.” Then there is Fiona’s response: “I’m an ambassador for my country. I’ll be glad to show you around.” Actually, what she is doing is agreeing to help him, but making sure that he has no chance to take advantage of her. She’ll make sure they don’t have any time to be alone. She’ll just walk his legs off till he’s so tired he can’t do anything but sleep. Furthermore, she pays part of the bill so that she doesn’t feel any obligations to him.

This type of protection is quite understandable, given that she had no idea about his background nor his character. As in the case of many men and women who meet at work, Fiona (and Robert) must be careful about their initial encounter. This care, however, often extends beyond these initial encounters. To this day, Fiona demands that Robert prove his commitment to her. Again and again she asks herself (and, indirectly, Robert) if the risk she took in meeting Robert in London (and later leaving London to join Robert in the United States) was worth it. There is often an ongoing concern on the part of one or both partners regarding the intensions of the other partner. Men and women who meet by chance as strangers often wake up in the middle of the night, look at the person sleeping next to them, and wonder if they have been insane in allowing this “stranger” (who they have been living with for many years) into their house!

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