This theme is coming up quite a bit these days in client consultations and is an experience many of us share: How do we integrate our personal needs into the need to compromise and give up some things in our relationships? In fact, this theme is built into the astrological chart on the ascendant/descendant axis that marks the cusp of the first house of personal identity and the seventh house of partnership. It’s been a long time since I saw a seesaw in a park (too dangerous?) but the balance point of a seesaw is the aim of all of the opposing astrological forces. Until we find that balance point we end up seesaw-ing from one end to the other.
Howard Sasportas and Liz Greene coined the term the “freedom/closeness” dilemma (source) to describe the conflict between the basic need to attach and feel safe with another human being and the need to differentiate the Self and become more comfortable as an autonomous individual. This is a process that begins in infancy but it can become distorted and corrupted in certain family situations. But really, those of us with this dynamic were born with a propensity towards this conflict, and this is evident in our birthcharts.
Certain signs and planetary placements crave closeness and security, and others indicate a push for greater autonomy and freedom. The water and earth signs tend to crave attachment and safety; the air and fire signs yearn for freedom and space. Neptune, Venus and the Moon are connectors – Mars, Uranus and Jupiter are detachers.
Often in this kind of chart we see an individual who may be completely unaware of their need for space, who longs for connection but who habitually chooses unavailable partners. Or they might be in long-term relationships in which intimacy is avoided as a means of finding space. Most often we vacillate back and forth – in one relationship we are the pursuer and in the next we take the role of the pursued. One individual with an intimacy/distance conflict will nearly always attract another with the same conflict until we understand and recognize that the conflict is actually in our own psyche.
Often our biggest problem is in accepting this inner conflict and learning how to express it to the people in your life. It can be very difficult to say “I need some space right now” and instead we may force ourselves to engage with others when we really don’t have the energy to do so. If this sounds familiar to you, this may be just the right opportunity to ponder this idea and see where you might want to make some changes in your relationships (not just spousal partners but work relationships, relationships with kids, best friends, etc.) so that you can maintain a happier and more integrated internal balance of your own freedom and closeness needs.