Part 3 of 3: How Do Sugaring Women Handle Fusionist Parents, Lovers, or Clients? - Dr. Christo Franklin

Part 3 of 3: How Do Sugaring Women Handle Fusionist Parents, Lovers, or Clients?

Part 3 of 3: How Do Sugaring Women Handle Fusionist Parents, Lovers, or Clients?


If a woman tells her family she wants to sugar, and if they respond with an emotional crisis reaction, some women can recognize that this reaction wasn’t caused by her disclosure, but instead was one more cycle in the pattern of a family that uses fusion to feel emotionally connected. (Fusion is explained in Part 1 of this series.) She might even know there’s an alternative to the emotional connection strategy of fusion, called reliable loving responsiveness (explained in Part 2). Yet it is one thing to be able to do the reliable loving responsiveness process with someone who understands this process. How do sugaring women do it with someone who doesn’t, like her fusionist parent? (To answer this, I’m going to keep the focus on describing the process rather than get into the describing how the sugaring woman knows she ready to do this or gets ready to do this.)

So when the sugaring woman who has attained the third position is confronted by a fusionist parent, the sugaring woman feels at ease, because she totally understands that the parent’s degree of upset indicates the parent’s desire to feel emotionally connected with her daughter. The parent wants connection, but is mistaken/mis-trained about how to make it happen. Before the daughter can teach her parent to re-connect by using reliable loving responsiveness, the parent has to let go of the fusion strategy. How does that happen?

The sugaring woman starts with a one-to-one conversation, never more than one family member at a time. Meeting with more than one family member at a time doesn’t work because they’re fusionists: If either of them makes a psychological shift away from fusion then the other family member will feel abandoned or betrayed, and bring the one who was about to shift back into fusion. However, if the sugaring woman meets with one person at a time, each person is concerned with only one relationship in the moment, the one between the parent and the sugaring woman.

It doesn’t matter whether the sugaring woman or her parent starts the conversation. What does matter is whether the sugaring woman can stick—and I mean no deviation—to reliable loving responsiveness. Why is deviation (returning to fusionist relating) so undermining? For the same reason slot machines payoff randomly: A random payout pattern creates the hope—belief that the very next crank of the lever could result in a big payout—which is hardest to extinguish. Thus any relapse into fusionist relating with the parent instills this hope, which is resistant to extinguishing, that the daughter will return to fusion, and not sugar. Any fusion-ing will prolong this cycle.

Instead, the sugaring woman, patiently, indeed lovingly, sticks through it. The parent will complain, typically not about his or her own emotional needs, but about what they don’t like about the daughter sugaring. To this—to everything—the daughter only answers by identifying the parents feeling.

Mom: I can’t believe you’re doing this. I thought we raised you better than that.
Daughter: I can’t tell. Are you more surprised or disappointed, or both?

Mom: What the hell are you thinking? You could get hurt! You could get a disease! What are you going to do if you get AIDS?
Daughter: You sound angry. Are you a little scared?

Mom: Do you have any idea what you’re putting your father through?
Daughter: You sound worried.

This goes on. The parent will probably continue to make statements, ask questions, etc. And the sugaring woman will not address the content of either, but identify the parent’s feeling. The parent will get annoyed, maybe irate. Yet the daughter will continue to make the issue the parent’s feelings, not the content. At some point the parent will realize—and remember the parent has emotional needs and wants emotional connection—that the parents can either be right, but will be right, and alone, or can let go of seeking to be right and admit to the feeling, which…will feel good.

The sugaring daughter knows that moment has arrived because the parent will visibly relax or appear to cave in, that’s the relinquishing of the fusionist strategy. And that’s the moment when the daughter moves to the second step of the process, validating. “You’re angry, and a little scared for me. That totally makes sense. You love me.” The parent will elaborate on his or her feelings.

Then step three, soothe. The parent needs a hug, stroking, something to help the neurological system and stress hormones to subside, just as we do for babies. We all have the same neurological wiring, we feel attached to those who soothe us.

The fourth step is a little different in this scenario. Odds are, just as it seems the parent has come around, after the tears are wiped, the parent will say, “But you know, I just wish you would ____.” The sugaring women recognizes this as a last pull of the slot machine lever. Could this be the crack that yields the payout? And she goes back to step one and re-does the cycle, “You sound worried.” The parent either will realize where this is going and not attempt fusion further, or will go on to do another cycle, and the daughter will do it, because the reason it’s called reliable loving responsiveness, is because the she can be relied upon to do it, every time, lovingly. And once her parent comes to count on her being reliably lovingly responsive to his or her emotional need to connect, the parent has stopped being a fusionist.

The value of understanding how women who sugar can resolve a conflict with their families isn’t limited to women who sugar, or to their families. people generally need emotional connection. And people often find themselves striving for that connection in the form of a conflict, which they try to resolve by fusion. Relationships with lovers and clients are no different, in terms of dynamics, although the nature of the attachment is different. The reliable loving responsiveness works with anyone who wants to feel understood, validated, and soothed.