In discussing the ways in which couples voice various discourses, Baxter overlooked one that has come into play (dare I say) constantly in my romances. I will name it inverse response cyclical alternation (Irca). Irca means that each partner switches from one discourse to its opposite, and their position is inversely correlated to the discourse that the other is voicing at that moment. This sounds like it would create unbearable tension, but actually has the effect of balancing out both extremes. When I am being predictable, my boyfriend will do something completely unexpected. Then, when I’m acting completely out of character, he will slow me down with his desire for predictability. And when all I want is to be alone, his desire for independence will save us from over-indulgent self-destruction. So I will likely respond with my own surge of independence; but as I pull away, my boyfriend will suddenly seem to take every opportunity for connection. The Irca seems to keep a relationship balanced, ever-changing, yet progressing at a slow and steady pace.
I think this theory can best be summarized in the popular statement made by many women at some point in their relationships. This statement is, "Leave me alone. I don't want to talk to you right now. Just go away." This statement, at least whenever I make it, really has so much riding behind it. I want my boyfriend to stop being a pest about whatever he is bothering me about, but I also want him to stay and comfort me because I am mad or sad about something. This is an example of the discourses of connectedness and separateness that occur within a relationship.
My boyfriend and I experience contradictory pulls, which are reflected in the language that we use. There is tension between connectedness and separateness. Connectedness, especially for him, is fairly related to the future of our relationship. We like to think that we may get married someday and think about what that would be like. Occasionally, one of us will say something like, "our children will have to be taught what a record player is." Then, the other person will recoil and say, "well, you can tell your children that." We use spiraling alternation to maintain a paradox to ensure that our connectedness/separateness desires are met.
My boyfriend is on the swim team, and I know most of the team well. The exceptions to this are the new freshmen, who apparently only know me as "the girlfriend." When Tyler told me that that is how they know who I am, I was bothered by it, and it surprised me that it irritated me. I have since realized that I want to have my own identity ourside of my relationship with Tyler, which is why I do not like the idea of being "the girlfriend." I obviously want to be connected to him, otherwise we would not be dating, but I also want my own separate, independent identity. So there is a working example of internal dialectics in play.
My first crush and I have been playing a game of chicken with our feelings for the past seven years. I won’t bog this down with the details, but essentially once or twice a year we get in touch and talk intimately towards each other for about the span of a month or so before we break it off again. Each of us has played the role of the breaker multiple times but in the two latest cases of this occurrence, she has been the breaker. Her last text to me was in December, she said, “I am not looking for a relationship and I don’t want to talk like I’m in one anymore either.” Distance followed for the next two and a half months. Until out of the blue she texted in mid-February apologizing and admitting feelings once again. We became close, talking everyday through texting and over FaceTime. Until recently she became very stressed out with her life and work and realized she preferred some space, so she ghosted me. We each come to each other when we realize we want intimacy but run when we feel we trapped. It is a tug and pull in both directions that is confusing and sometimes annoying. This is a perfect example in my opinion of relational dialectics because it not only demonstrates the flux of needs within each person between intimacy and privacy, but also showcases the phrase, “relationships are messy, and that’s okay.”