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Seeing a Significant Other “As if for the First Time”

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Abstract

The experience of genuinely being seen by another person is one that we deeply long for. What could be more wonderful than being recognized for who one really is by a lover, parent, or friend? And yet we are also keenly aware that becoming visible to another is risky. Think of a time when you were feeling vulnerable, ashamed, or even terrified at the prospect of being seen—even by someone who deeply cares about you, let alone someone who would judge you.

Keywords

  • French Philosopher
  • Private World
  • Break Record
  • Wrestling Match
  • Objective Awareness

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And do you know, Maia, he actually looked at me, really looked, and it seemed to me he was then seeing me for the first time.

C. S. Lewis1

But sometimes stories are all we have. Sometimes they are all we need.

Jeffrey Smith2

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Notes

  1. Clive S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1966), 106.

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  2. Jeffrey Smith, Where the Roots Reach the Water: A Personal and Natural History of Melancholia (New York: North Point Press, 1999), 168.

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  3. Phil Mollon, Shame and Jealousy: The Hidden Turmoil (London: Karmac, 2002), p. 20.

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  4. L. A. Baxter and C. Bullis, “Turning Points in Romantic Relationships,” Communications Research 12 (1986): 469–493. I am grateful to Professor Debra Sequeira, Department of Communications, Seattle Pacific University, for bringing this research tradition to my attention.

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  5. Parts of this chapter are based on Steen Halling, “Seeing a Significant Other ‘As if for the First Time,’” in Duquesne Studies in Phenomenological Psychology, Vol. 3, ed. Amedeo Giorgi, Anthony Barton, and Charles Maes (Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press, 1983), 122–136.

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  6. For a further discussion of the meaning of context, see Constance T. Fischer, “Personality and Assessment,” in Existential-Phenomenological Perspectives in Psychology, ed. Ronald S. Valle and Steen Halling (New York: Plenum, 1989), esp. 161–163.

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  9. Adrian van Kaam, Existential Foundations of Psychology (Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press, 1966), Chapter 10.

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  10. Martin Buber, I and Thou, trans. Walter Kauffman (New York: Scribner and Sons, 1970).

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  11. cf. Maurice Friedman’s discussion of the I-Thou relationship in his book Martin Buber: The Life of Dialogue (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1960).

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  19. Gabriel Marcel, in particular, has challenged the equation of receptivity with passivity and emphasized the creative and responsive dimensions of receptivity. See, for example, his essay “Testimony and Existentialism,” in The Philosophy of Existentialism, trans. Manya Harari (New York: Citadel Press, 1991), 91–103.

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  21. This is how William Lynch describes creativity. See his Images of Hope: Imagination as Healer of the Hopeless (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1974).

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  23. Walter T. Davis, Shattered Dream: America’s Search for Its Soul (Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International, 1994), 165.

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  24. Arthur Egendorf, Healing from the War: Trauma and Transformation after Vietnam (New York: Houghton Miffl in, 1985), 52.

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  25. Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (New York: Harper and Row, 1962).

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  26. J. H. van den Berg, A Different Existence (Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press, 1972), 94.

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© 2008 Steen Halling

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Halling, S. (2008). Seeing a Significant Other “As if for the First Time”. In: Intimacy, Transcendence, and Psychology. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230610255_2

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