Breaking the Addiction to Toxic Relationships
The following blog, along with previous blogs written, is based on issues from various patients I have worked with over the years. If you wish to no longer receive these blogs, merely e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, stating “Do not email future blogs” and your name will be deleted from the mailing list.
I have witnessed many times in my practice, patients being emotionally stuck in a dysfunctional relationship. For many however, getting out of one such relationship only gets repeated with another and another. These people may be successful in their employment but unsuccessful in their love lives. Where does this come from and how can this addictive pattern be broken? The reasons for this addiction are as varied as the people who are stuck in them.
The strategies you might want to utilize to break this cycle, are by no means easy. If they were, people would readily implement them and eliminate their ongoing relationship problem.
When first starting any relationship, it would be important to be alert to possible red flags. This can, at first, be difficult to recognize. The other person initially is usually on good behavior, sensitive to the kind of behavior that would make a positive impression on you. Once that goal is accomplished however, flaws can begin to appear. However, as a result of the attraction, flaws tend to be minimized. or denied entirely. You can become more aware by asking yourself some of the following questions.
Does your partner give to you what he/she expects from you? Is your self esteem enhance or lessened by your partner? Do you need the relationship, no matter how dysfunctional it is? Does your partner lie to overtly or by omission, resulting in distrust? Do you feel emotionally and/or physically abused in the relationship? Do you keep going back, making excuses for the toxicity? Does your partner’s needs consistently overshadow yours?
Staying in such relationships that ultimately don’t end in a good place may speak as much about a possible problem with your self esteem, a persistent neediness and a fear of ending up alone. Whether it is a series of such relationships or one that is long standing, the emotional roller coaster remains the same. When things are good, the highs are very high. When things are low, they are very low.
The pattern of attempting to end such relationships usually is to break up, become miserable, get back together, go through the honeymoon stage, only to have things go back to the breakup. Round and round, over and over. Permanently ending this merry go round is never easy. When such a relationship ends, try to remember that the trip up was never worth the trip down. Keeping this in mind may help to reinforce and affirm your reasons for ending the toxicity .
Therefore, working on strengthening your own sense of self and enhancing your personal worth is critical in taking charge of your life rather than allowing others to have power over you. Professional counseling may be of help in examining how your past growing up years have negatively impacted the choices you make in your relationships. If you stick to it long enough, you can certainly discover that you are better than you think and you are worth much more than what you have settled for.
Attempting to change this vicious cycle, means initially making tough decisions during a time when you may be feeling anxious, lonely, depressed and empty inside. In spite of this real pain, creating boundaries is critically important. By boundaries, I mean separating yourself from others who may want you to be what you intuitively don’t feel comfortable in being. It means separating yourself from those people you need in order to feel loveable with people you want in your life who may add to the richness of your being.
You may find that journaling will help. Entries should include identifying what is going on inside of you while being tempted to get back on that merry-go-round. Taking a hard look at the pros and cons of such relationships is difficult. There usually is a tendency to put a positive spin on resuming the dysfunctional relationship. It is easy to rationalize that things will be different this time. However, as hard as it may be, objectivity must override this real temptation. Remember, the biggest lies people tell, is the lies they tell themselves.
Seek people and activities that bring you pleasure and fill your mind with positive thoughts and memories. Try to spend time only on things that will help you reach your ultimate goal in your life. This needs to be attempted while missing your former partner. However, success would mean that you are finally free to take ownership of the person you want to be and on a deeper level, truly are.
Making a commitment to be proactive in making better choices is usually not smooth sailing. With forward movement, there can be bumps in the road, where there is some regression. Try not to be hard on yourself. Change is not easy for any of us. It needs to be made in small increments, chipping away at one’s natural resistance. Be patient and gentle with yourself, with the knowledge that you are worth more than you have settled for in your life.
Readers are invited to comment, share thoughts, ideas or suggestions about this blog or any other previous blogs. Readers can e-mailing me at email@example.com or mailing me at lifesourcecenter, 710 Main Street, Plantsville Connecticut, 06479.