Relationships as a reflection in the mirror: Shadow in partnerships

Relationships with other people represent a kind of social mirror and the more important these others are to us, the more negative the image they reflect in the mirror, the more terrible and difficult it is to accept.

The mismatch between the way significant others see us, what we personally think of ourselves individually, and how we would like to be seen, often leads to problems in relationships.

Katarina Krstić
Gestalt life coach i savetnik,
HR Consultant

It often happens that people face the biggest and most difficult problems in communication in partnerships.

In life, we meet a lot of people who we did not choose for contact and communication, and somehow it will always be easier for us to deal with them, whatever they are, than with those we have chosen for a partnership, emotional relationship.

The question arises as to how it is often easier for us with difficult clients or associates, awkward bosses and neighbors in relation to our own partners who we initially believed to be our ideal life companions.

It is most often heard that someone has changed, discovered a new face, become someone when we do not recognize and when we have not chosen him as such.

Several terms are important for us to understand what is happening in partner relationships, and one very important one is called Shadow.

Photo by Almos Bechtold on Unsplash

This term is related to the Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung, who saw in the personality of each of us an aspect he called Senkom and tied to him all those aspects of ours that we condemn, reject and do not accept in ourselves. We perceive this part of the personality as dark, inadequate and we do not see it as a part of us, but as something that is outside of us, in the outside world.

The name itself Shadow it just vividly describes our relationship to him. We are not aware of our shadows as deeds of us, and every thought that it could be so fills us with negative feelings and a desire to defend ourselves from such accusations and to deny them.

In addition to this aspect within the personality, Jung defined the aspect he called opposite to him Person.

Person is the public part of us, the one we love and see in ourselves, the one we consider good and valuable. The persona represents the part of us that we most often show in relationships with others in everyday life.

Photo by Christiana Rivers on Unsplash

And when it is difficult for us, and when we are grumpy, sad, scared, worried or without optimism and self-confidence, we will usually not show it publicly.

We will put our favorite mask on our face and play the chosen role for as long as we think is necessary. We know that it is not wise to shout at co-workers and clients, to cry at work or on the street, and therefore grit our teeth and endure, until we get home, or in some other environment where we expect others to accept and love us. as we really are and in which we can show what we really feel. The only problem is that we don’t really know what we are because we deny and suppress a large part of ourselves.

That is why it often happens that in close emotional relationships we are accused of what we do not recognize and see in ourselves and why we often feel as if we are not well understood.

Photo Toa Heftiba

Then we have the experience that someone important and dear does not understand and does not know us. In such situations, we often feel great disappointment, amazement and anger that arises from the frustration we experience. Usually, both partners, not seeing some aspects in themselves, project their content on the other partner, who sharply denies owning them and is completely surprised that someone can even think something like that about him, and that often leads to a conflict that is difficult to resolve.

When parts of the shadow are projected in a relationship, it is very difficult to talk calmly and end the discussion in a positive tone. These projections and the emotions they bring with them are very strong, and the tendency to deny something within us and attribute it to another person is extremely strong. Under the influence of these strong emotions, above all, hurt, disappointment and anger, it is often impossible to achieve meaningful and constructive communication.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

In addition to the partners projecting on each other Shadow, they also have more opportunities to see aspects more clearly and better Decrease in the other.

There are several reasons for this. One of them is the very situation of a partnership that has entered its stable phase. Thanks to the fact that each of the partners cannot constantly and for a long time carry his own everywhere Person with himself, he comes to the situation of being seen without a mask.

Dealing with Senkom one partner easily catches the eye of the other partner, because he is surprised and amazed by the new experience he unexpectedly has with someone when he believes that he knows and understands him well. Because of that, the partners are very sensitive to its repetition and then they often react very violently.

In addition, what we are not aware of and what we deny within ourselves is something over which we have no firm control. It is in situations of strong emotional charge, which can only produce a close emotional relationship, that such control slips out of our hands, and it is an opportunity to get out of us the “worst in us” and in our partner.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Working on getting to know and integrating your own Shadow is a long and serious process.

It requires dedication and special techniques of working on oneself with professional guidance. However, what we can do on our own, to get to know this part of ourselves, is to pay attention to all those situations in which it happens that someone accuses us of something that is in complete contradiction with how we see ourselves.

When we hear someone tell us that we are rude and insensitive, while we absolutely believe we are gentle and empathetic, or someone accuses us of being rigid, while we believe we are the epitome of flexibility, when we are completely shocked by what we hear, and all we think about is – That is absolutely not true!, that is the moment when it would be useful to ask whether there is at least a grain of limited truth in that.

Photo Toa Heeftiba

For example, we may indeed be very patient, tolerant, accommodating and flexible at work, but in our home, in some segment, at some point, for example, towards a partner, children or parents be just the opposite behavior, and at the same time unwilling to we see and recognize something like that in ourselves because it conflicts with our previous experience and our image of ourselves.

In order to be at all ready to see such things in ourselves, it is necessary to take a neutral attitude towards them. We can try to look at them without condemnation and with the idea that it is possible to react in certain situations, which does not mean that we are just like that.

It is a great delusion when we think that we, or someone in our environment, are the bearers of only one of the polarities in behavior.

That someone is just intolerant, and someone is the embodiment of pure and boundless tolerance, that someone is always unreasonable, and someone is always reasonable in every situation, that someone is always brave, and someone is a coward in every situation. If we are aware of this diversity in ourselves and others, it will be easier for us to get to know ourselves and others in the right way. Then we can say to ourselves – I am diligent, but sometimes lazy, optimistic and sometimes I think negatively, as we can say the same for others, without accusation and mistaken belief that they have only one “real face”.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

The more we are aware that there is not only one real person, but that each of us has his own in him Senku, we will find it easier to deal with it in ourselves and in others.

It will be easier for both us and our partner to have our own Shadow we know, if we accept it with more love and understanding, because then there is less need for defense and denial and greater ability for its transformation.

Source: Sito&Rešeto by

*The article has been translated based on the content of Sito&Rešeto by If there is any problem regarding the content, copyright, please leave a report below the article. We will try to process as quickly as possible to protect the rights of the author. Thank you very much!

*We just want readers to access information more quickly and easily with other multilingual content, instead of information only available in a certain language.

*We always respect the copyright of the content of the author and always include the original link of the source article.If the author disagrees, just leave the report below the article, the article will be edited or deleted at the request of the author. Thanks very much! Best regards!