“The Invisible Ghosts in Couple Relationships”– by Lynne Wu, Bilingual Psychologist, M.A.P.S.


Relationships and unresolved emotional wounds

Many of us carry unresolved emotional wounds into a new relationship without realizing that issues “ tucked underneath the carpet” often sabotage the wellbeing and normal functioning of the couple relationship. The reason being is that with every unhealed wound, be it a trauma, abandonment, loss, abuse or self-inadequacy, fear of being hurt or fear of rejection, we tend to carry forward hugely distorted negative views onto the new relationship for self-protection. The download of such distorted “filters” or “lenses” onto any new innocent situation (without evidence of harm yet) is called “projection”.


Projection is natural psychological defense mechanism innate in our psyche much like an “immune system” that would fight any threats for our wellbeing. Depending on the intensity of our past unresolved wounds, the deeper the wounds, the higher our defense, thus, the bigger the negative distortion and over-use of projection.

Projection functions like an alarm to us. When we over activate an alarm, it becomes a false alarm switched on constantly whether there is a real threat or not. This often creates a “highly strung” and “over stressed” states of over-reaction. WIth the “ distorted filters or lenses” , we are not seeing the reality “ as is” , but “ how we project it to be” with “over generalization”. Negative projections prevent us from enjoying the sweetness and delight in the new or current relationship. They are the “ invisible ghosts” that sabotage us from relationship to relationship, marriage after marriage until we remove them and reload with proper clear lenses.

Beginning relationships

Typically, when we first enter the relationship, we tend to operate “ La Vie En Rose” where we see life through rose coloured glasses by romanticizing everything. Once this honeymoon stage fades out, we tend to go back to our “ comfort zone” of seeing things through our usual lenses be it good or negative, functional or distorted. For example, if a male partner is severely wounded before because his ex-partner had cheated on him numerous times, without proper healing, he may adopt the view that “ all women are not trustworthy because they will all cheat on me”. He may doubt his new female partner’s loyalty and trustworthiness and behave in a very suspicious and controlling way despite having no evidence of her cheating.

The female, if perceiving herself as being abandoned because her father has left the whole family for another woman in her youth, may adopt the lenses that she “ is not good enough for men to stay “, and “ all men will leave her eventually just like her father did”. In that, she may hesitate to get too close to men or terminate a good relationship prematurely “just in case she gets hurt again”.

Healing past wounds

Despite both of them having the potential of becoming a wonderful couple together, they both need address and heal their past wounds by removing their tinted and broken lenses by rebuilding their own self-esteem and confidence and trust in relating to the outside world. If not addressed, their relationship is likely to suffer as they are constantly entangled in and aggravating each other’s projected distorted views.

Whilst most couples have good friends to lean on in moments of difficulties, skilled psychologists often can effectively address the underlying causes of the above scenario. With their professional knowledge and training, they can assist each person as an individual and both as a couple to transform more profoundly to break through their own projections, wounds and repeated patterns. 

Relationships / couples psychologist

Lynne is a skilled psychologist with 19 years of counselling experiences. She has obtained her M.A. in Professional Psychology with specialization in Marriage and Family Counselling. For enquiries, please contact Breathe Holistic Health at: 07 5679 5593 or book online. 

 Lynne Wu

Lynne Wu


Lynne is a caring and approachable practitioner who is dedicated to enhancing life with counselling services to her clients of all ages and situations. Coming from a multi-cultural background and speaking fluent Mandarin and Taiwanese enhances her ability to assist those who can benefit from her multi-language skills and cultural understanding. She has successfully overcome many personal challenges and this helps her relate to a wide range of circumstances.