Reviewed by George F. Simons at diversophy.com Amazon review
Sometimes I think I've been an expat for too long, because from time to time something comes along that pulls me out of my adopted identity and transmits my spirit to other times and other places. Reading Relationship Chemistry, I suddenly found myself back in the early 70s in the heyday of the human potential movement in Southern California, when a new model for self-development and success in relationships, money making, and the like seemed to appear on the scene at least every other day, to say nothing of the abundance of true believer cults.
I remember a Sunday morning when catty-corner, at an intersection in La Jolla, the Center for Human Potential was showing people how to do next to nude massages on the front lawn while across the street the Baptist Church was welcoming a congregation in ties and pinafores, including ample numbers of military with their tots dressed in miniature army and navy outfits --definitely different strokes for different folks. So, excuse me if this is a rather oblique introduction to a book offering a new model to assist relationship development, but my BS indicator goes to red whenever I see the adjective "true" attached to a model or methodology. Perhaps this is an example of the "Mirror Energy" that the author is about to describe.
So let me both acknowledge and set my itchy framework aside to look exactly at what the book does. The author establishes a model of eight "True Energy" types, with which we can assist ourselves and others by identifying certain ways of being, not always evident to our self-knowledge, but strongly operative and manifesting themselves in specific ways in the various relationships we conduct with each other. It's about "chemistry," that metaphor that we've come to use to describe how and why we fit well together in relationships, or don't. We use the metaphor largely because we don't know what's in the concoction and we don't know why it operates as it does. Oh yes, on the behavioral level we may spat and chat, collaborate or, deliver mutual annoyances to each other, and perhaps throw up our hands to acknowledge that "in order to love, you sometimes simply have to close your eyes."
In the face of our ignorance about our so-called chemical reactions to each other, the author suggests a deeper look into the forces--I would call them "discourses" that shape us and which we exercise in relationships. The eight that she names and describes in terms of their dynamics are:
Parent/Child Grandparent/Grandchild Lover Friend
Associate Counselor/Counselee Mirror Incidental
An important part of the book's process is helping one identify which of these forms and informs one's True Energy, with the promise that, if this can be done, it will reduce the stress in situations where a relationship misunderstanding or conflict is problematic or becoming more acute. It aims to help us understand the dynamics of our True Energy and choose appropriate coping strategies for maintaining, improving, or in some cases abandoning the relationship. A great deal of the book is about managing expectations and how these expectations flow differently from the various True Energies.
Our True Energy is not necessarily obvious to us, therefore the author suggests tools for identification, including questioning oneself with muscle testing derived from the discipline of Applied Kinesiology and the use of a pendulum. The assumption here is that, if we can bypass conscious and emotional prejudices and access our system at a deeper level, we are likely to come up with answers about who we are that are at variance with what we play as our everyday "symphony."
Each True Energy has its easy and difficult aspects to deal with in relationships. The author explores, in some detail, examples of conflicted relationship situations, the difficult side, and shows how three different levels of coping responses are possible and how each affects the outcome. When it comes to coping, one may be reactive, responding out of an instinctual, probably well-rehearsed behavior pattern. This generally does not resolve things but is more likely to increase stress in the relationship. One may also formulate a conscious response, providing what would rationally appear to be a reasonable and common solution to the conflict, though it may not be related and appropriate to the energies of the parties involved. Finally, one may operate out of the awareness of one's True Energy, using this self-knowledge to shape what is both a more reasonable, more appropriate and adequate responses.
Another dynamic at play, in each individual, as I mentioned above, is known as the symphony. It is a kind of concerto made up of the way we do things according to long rehearsed score that holds us together and constitutes how we play our personal tune. The author provides a glossary of this and other terms referred to as an appendix to the book. In my opinion, a reader would do well to look carefully at this glossary before launching into the text.
Other appendices include the testing methods I mentioned above, tips about coping with stressors that suppress energy, how we react to life in our physical environment as well as contributes to the attrition of our effort and even temperature management. Finally there is a "Love Scorecard" for charting and assessing what one perceives as loving and unloving behaviors in a given relationship.
The first appendix, which I have not yet mentioned, is perhaps the most interesting from a cultural point of view. Here the author, with some preliminary caveats, attempts to identify the True Energy of celebrity couples. My assumption is that this is done on the author's perception that celebrity models exert a great deal of influence on many people when thinking about life and relationships. I am incapable of passing any comment on this, simply because I never watch sitcoms, read Us Weekly, or People magazines, nor follow the yellow press online or at the newsstand. Perhaps these are the saints, sinners, and morality players of largely US culture writ worldwide.
The author herself, according to her brief biography, is quite the polymath, bridging physics, the business world with psychology and a plethora of spiritual/self development practices. She is frank in telling the reader that what she is proposing is also related to how she puts her own life together, certainly the kind of authenticity we would expect in a book of this nature.
How to sum this up? Basically the reader can use Relationship Chemistry for a fresh set of insights, different ways of looking at one's own and one's partner's personality structures. It provides some alternative inner discourse to what we have been used listening to from ourselves about ourselves. It may help us change or tweak customary reaction patterns, sing another tune, realizing that we operate out of different realities, which can either enrich each other and help us evolve, or that may prevent us from doing so if we can't recognize and manage them.