March 10, 2006
Most of us have probably either personally ended a love relationship or witnessed someone close to us go through it. It is not always easy to let go of someone you love even when you know that it is something that needs to be done because the relationship is bad for you. Maybe I should define a bad relationship before going on.
Whether a relationship is good or bad has nothing to do with the conflict and dissatisfaction that two changing individuals might struggle with to maintain a loving partnership. This is normal and a necessary part of growth in a healthy relationship.
A bad relationship, however, can be defined as one in which you have no more place to grow, one in which you will find nothing but dead ends. One in which you are attached to someone who is painfully beyond your reach (for whatever reason, e.g. they don’t know how to commit or don’t want to) and whom you can no longer communicate with or share life’s little joys with because you are on completely different levels. One in which you are constantly lacking the things that you desire most such as e.g. affection, tenderness, sexual stimulation, or even respect, honesty and emotional support . One in which you find yourself on the battlefield of hatred, rage and abuse or emptiness and loneliness.
No matter how bad a relationship is, it is still hard to let go. Why? Why do make ourselves prisoners of love?
Staying in a bad relationship can not only affect you mentally by destroying your self confidence and self-esteem but the constant stress of it can also effect you physically and damage your health as well as drive you into unhealthy directions such as alcohol consumption, drug use or suicidal attempts.
Despite all of this, not to mention our self-respect, most of us still attempt to salvage what remains of a once blooming relationship because we just can’t break with it. Even when we get to the point where we convince ourselves that it would be best to leave, we find ourselves in a state of paralysis and try to trick ourselves by distorting the situation or holding deep beliefs that defy logic and blur our judgment as to what is in our best self-interest.
Once again I go back to the ultimate question: why do we do torment ourselves? The answer is simple. We have become addicted to our partner.
One must freely choose another person in order to be genuinely loving and committed to them, but one of the characteristics of addiction is that it is a compulsive drive which doesn’t allow this kind of freedom of choice. One of the other characteristics of an addictive relationship is the panic that is felt once your partner is no longer present. The mere thought of breaking up can create feelings of dread and terror and make you cling to that person harder. Withdrawal symptoms are also a defining feature of addiction.
When you end a relationship you might suffer great agony and experience physical pain, depression, insomnia but in the end you might feel that there is no place to go and no way to end the discomfort except to go back to the old person (your addictive substance).
Another trait of “addictive love” has to do with the post-mourning period. Someone who is in an addictive relationship will feel triumph and a sense of liberation after the grievance of their breakup, whereas someone experiencing a non-addictive loss will go through a slow, sad acceptance and healing phase.
So basically we make our partner the center of our existence and we are willing to damage ourselves greatly, just to stay connected to this person. “I need you” becomes the controlling force in our attachment to our partner thus depriving us from certain fundamental freedoms: the freedom to love the other person by choice and through true commitment rather than being driving by our own dependence, the freedom to be your best self in the relationship and most importantly the freedom to chose to stay with that that person or to leave them. What might be important to do is to figure out what the roots of this addiction are rather than condemning it or criticizing yourself for having gotten addicted to someone in the first place >>> to be continued