Confluence is defined as a place where two rivers
join to become one.
A confluent personality
refers to people who
have no sense of their own ego boundaries.
In other words,
it is hard for them to know where they stop and another person begins.
They have no boundaries.
In clinical terms this is referred to as enmeshment.
Everyone seems to ebb and flow into each other.
When you are really upset, I am really upset even if I had a good day.
The quality of being perceptive and aware of the other person,
the ability to walk in another's shoes,
can be an asset called empathy.
When anyone in a family system has genuine empathy with a
everyone in the system benefits.
So if you had a bad day, I have had a good day,
my empathy allows me to care about you,
however it does not make a bad day for me too.
I do not have to make it my job
to make the other person happy or solve their problem.
In some families, empathy goes to an extreme.
When based on fear, empathy becomes confluence.
Confluence leads to a tangled web
where you lose your own identity
in the service of others.
In addictive families, members become so enmeshed
in each others needs and identities,
it takes extensive work to get untangled.
It is important each family member learn to
speak for themselves
and develop separateness.
You may think you know what your loved one is thinking
long before he or she says it.
Often you may be right,
but assuming you have got this person figured out
is actually disrespectful.
You rob him or her of the chance to feel like an exciting and evolving person.
You also rob yourself of the change to be surprised
and learn something new about your relationship.
Often, the other person eventually may polarize
and seek their separateness, with you pursing.
The more you pursue, the more they retreat.
The relationship soon falls apart.
It is safe to say that confluent personalities are addicted to another's addiction.
It can be a food, alcohol, drug, relationship or work addiction.
They consider that person to be their mission in life.
They become obsessed with solving their loved ones' problems.
On one hand they relish the idea of discussing someone else's problems,
but on the other hand,
they have great difficulty talking about their own lives.
They feel full of ownership of this other person
and have no sense of how violating
it is to talk about this loved one as an object.
They continue this discussion to avoid talking about themselves.
They can recount little about themselves,
independent of their obsession which is their loved one.
The loved one becomes distant,
and seeks other relationships
where they can be an individual.