I had long discussion this week with a fellow therapist on whether I’d consider writing anything for professionals working with individuals on the borderline personality continuum. How did the topic emerge? She had recently been “fired” by one such client and felt very upset about it. I imagined that it had happened in a very angry way, the client speaking to this therapist in abusive language and then storming out. What is it really about when we can’t do right for doing wrong?
I have been “fired” in this way by a number of deeply troubled clients over the years. Broadly speaking, they would be considered “borderline,” I hesitate to use that term because it has such pejorative connotations, even for mental health professionals. These clients often begin treatment with heightened expectations; they express commitment to the work and idealise their new therapist. This transference is expected and needed. At this point, the therapist can do no wrong and is the good object. Something will then happen in the course of the treatment (I’ll have more to say about what that “something” is) and the client will abruptly turn on the therapist. Good object turns bad. Often this means the end of treatment.
I’ve been screamed and sworn at. I’ve been called names; told I had no idea what the f**k I was doing and treated with utter scorn; I’ve had clients slam the door on their way out and never come back, or subsequently leave hate-filled messages on my voice mail. Each time, it’s a deeply painful and toxic experience for me. It takes me hours to recover, sometimes even days. During this time, I review my work in an attempt to regain the feeling that it has value.
This need for the therapist to recover a sense of personal value holds the key to the borderline client’s experience and what led him or her to explode. I think I can best illustrate this with a recent example from my practice. After our first few sessions, Heather told me that she’d never met a therapist who so intuitively grasped her pain and understood exactly what she was going through. She said she felt deeply grateful to have found me. I’ve had enough experience with idealisation to know that, if I’m on the pedestal now, I’ll eventually end up on the trash heap.
Heather had potential to really become something. Unfortunately, she has spent decades drifting from one career idea to another and hasn’t been able to self actualise. This has left her living behind a rather grandiose image and moving from one unstable interpersonal relationship to the next. She’s also spent too many years on an ever-changing cocktail of psychiatric medications. Often better informed about available meds than her medicating psychiatrist, Heather would go to her appointments armed with articles she’d read and persuade her doctor to prescribe what Heather thought she needed. She once told me I was the only therapist she hadn’t been able to run circles around. We’re exactly the same age.
I often felt Heather attempting to communicate with me as if we were colleagues, rather than turning to me in a vulnerable, needy way as my client. In one session, she spoke about how much she liked to be the one dispensing wisdom: what she really wanted to do, she said, was write a philosophical-type book and get paid for speaking engagements. It felt as if she were making some comparison between us. In a later session, she made similar remarks; I addressed the ongoing comparisons and asked her if it might be deeply painful for her to compare herself to me, a woman the same age, and to feel what she might have done with her life. The loss of potential, the waste of the years, the shame about her damage felt excruciating and unbearable.
Within seconds, her face was twisted with scorn. “You think I envy you?” she sneered. Within minutes, she’d cut the session short with a few contemptuous parting shots about my incompetence and terminated treatment. Other clients have become much more abusive. Some have screamed at me; others, as I said, have slammed the door on their way out of my office. All of them have left me feeling “shitty,” for lack of a better word.
Burdened with unbearable shame, these clients evacuated all their pain, the feelings of unworthiness into me, as if I were a toilet, and fled therapy in order to escape their pain. Borderline clients in flight want to make their therapists (or any abandoning Other) feel shitty, though not consciously. The rage they express as they lash out is meant to fill the other person with all of the unbearable shame that they carry, the sense of inner defect, to evacuate it all and then to run. I believe the evacuation of shame is a regular feature in borderline rage, which makes it very difficult to bear for anyone on the receiving end. It’s hard enough to be the object of someone’s rage, even harder when the massive projection of shame and unworthiness goes along with it.
I’m sure other therapists have had the same experience but possibly not quite understood why they found the experience so toxic. Our worth and value as professionals have been assaulted, for reasons that are emotionally understandable but hard to bear. It may take days for us to recover our equanimity. I think this is the reason why borderlines are so vilified, even by mental health professionals. The largely negative attitudes are defensive in nature: we want to protect our own sense of worth from being savaged.
Heather periodically resurfaces. First she asked if she might resume treatment but felt she needed a more “collaborative” approach; could we operate more as co-therapists? She is not qualified as a therapist (though she might fantasise that she is) so I needed to decline this offer. When I told her I’d be happy to work together but I needed to practice as I saw fit, she again dropped out of sight. A few months later, she wrote to me in desperation, but an attempt to get started again was quickly aborted. How can she resume treatment when it means reclaiming her shame and all the pain that goes with it?
She may never be able to do so. The tragedy of those men and women who suffer from the symptoms of borderline personality disorder is that, even if they find someone capable of understanding them, the experience of shame in relation to that person becomes unbearable and they often end up savaging the relationship as a defense against that shame it inspires. To escape the horrible feeling of being a “loser,” they attempt to “win” by destroying. This includes trying to destroy their therapists and the creative work they do. Usually, the compounded feelings of shame about the damage done stop them from going back, so they end up beginning and ending therapeutic relationships in serial fashion. Some of my borderline clients have managed to hang on, learning to bear their rage and shame over time, but more of them have not.
Recently, an ex decided to contact me, asking to meet ‘to talk’. I don’t really know why he suddenly decided that he had to be connected to me; but one thing is clear. This guy likes to collect his exes and line up people to run to; always when he is on the verge of leaving the current squeeze. From out of the blue, I was bombarded with pictures that had once been exchanged, several demands to meet and constant messages through every medium; all in the vain hope that I would let down my guard and run to him. Desperately trying to hold onto one’s ex reminds me a little of those shows about hoarders. You know, those people that can barely move for all of the stuff piled up around them and are super attached to stuff that they’re never going to use or appreciate, for that matter.
It goes without saying that the whole weird episode fell on deaf, rather amused ears. Why? Well for one, I’m in a whole new place now. There is no desire or need for me to be another one in the collection. Truth be told, I was repulsed by the efforts as now I can see him for what he really is; a narcissistically-traited and controlling man. His efforts to appear sexy seemed clownish. His approach was clumsy, arrogant and childish; his messages littered with spelling and grammar mistakes. All things considered, I simultaneously laughed at and pitied his efforts to seem so masculine and so in control. His incessant chasing of me served to amplify how not okay he is with himself or with the situation in which he finds himself. So, it gave me an idea for a blog post. What is really behind the need to collect and secure the attentions of an ex or two…or five? (read: a harem)
Here’s the thing: Some people love collecting exes.
I don’t mean that they go out of their way to make partners into exes by botching up relationships (although I suspect some do sabotage to resist commitment and then console themselves that they’re Really Great People ™ and A Really Good Ex ™). I suspect that the reason might be twofold. Firstly, not only does their ego need almost constant supply from a pool of people, but secondly, that they need to secure a new form of ego supply before they dump their present partner.
So now the exes become a kind of trophy – a message that reads a little something like, “Dear Ego & World, look at me. I’m such a good and great person. How do I know this? Well, I can pick up with my ex partners whenever I like and they will all welcome me back, many with open arms because I am such a good person and such a great catch! I can’t be that awful if they all still talk to me, can I?” A trophy cabinet of exes can also act as a deterrent that tend to keep potential new partners at bay or help to manage (read: lower) their expectations. Even the most secure people in the world would feel rattled by going out with someone who spends most of their time talking about, bragging about and juggling their exes. People who collect exes and who collect ‘supply’ are what I call ‘haremologists’.
Once you know that a haremologist is attempting to seduce you and you then realise that you are in a harem, perhaps your own ego may then worry about not being in the harem and that he/she might choose another member? You might find yourself hanging around for reputation management. Do yourself a favour and run. See the projections for what they are and give them back to their rightful owner.
A lot of people are friends with an ex or two, although plenty aren’t. That is not really the crux of my post today. It’s not a badge of honour to have a trail of ex partners hanging around and it doesn’t make you a Good Girl/Guy. It really doesn’t. I say this because too many people are obsessed with saving face and maintaining dodgy relations because they:
1) want to keep an eye on the other party and keep them in their pocket as a rainy day option in case they change their mind and also to ensure that they haven’t made a bad decision; or
2) are not over them and are effectively re-auditioning them in the hopes of being picked up when they realise that they can’t do better or when they have a lobotomy; or
3) are still sleeping with them but calling it ‘friendship’ to make the bitter pill of no official title and relationship easier to swallow.
When it’s genuine, it will self-evident and unforced. It’s organic. It’s not baggage because the need to be in contact with an ex and rekindle things are not being carted around as a way to avoid letting go and/or as symbols to reassure the ego. For those of you wondering, a couple of my ex’s do fall into the category of friends because we truly are. The sentiment for me feels entirely natural and comfortable.
If someone is in the habit of remaining in touch with their exes, I’d say that this, more than likely, serves an ego-centric purpose. Their motivations and lack of self-awareness produce a pattern of problems. It’s almost as if the ‘haremologist’ is carting around a cemetery of all the women they’ve ever been involved with. The ghosts of unavailability past if you will. I’ve seen this so many times in practice. It’s as if they all read the same playbook. All of this carry-on is reassurance that they’re not shady and is about maintaining illusions. The pursuing and chase is about recruiting harem members into becoming supply and to forget and/or reset their own feelings. This is so that they can assuage a haremologist of their guilt. At best, this is sad. At worst, creepy.
When I see people carting around their exes and devoting so much time to tending to and maintaining this supply, I do have to wonder: how in the hell do they have room for a romantic partner? More often than not, they don’t.
The easiest way to ensure that you do not end up in someone’s collection and dolls house of ex partners is to ensure that your self-esteem isn’t reliant on validation from ex-partners or people with whom reciprocity just isn’t there. It’s knowing that line between what’s acceptable and what’s plain repulsive and pitiful. Don’t introject their want and need to pull you into their drama. Leave them to play pretend with their dolls house harem by themselves. Smile… you’re more than part of a collection of plastic
Stockholm, Sweden, 1973. Two men entered a bank armed with machine guns. They held three women and one man hostage for several days. By the end of this ordeal, the victims took the side of their captors. They defended them to the media, to the police and one of the woman became engaged to one of the bank robbers. Another spent a lot of money for the legal defense of one of the criminals. This psychological phenomenon is so common that it acquired its own label: “Stockholm Syndrome” otherwise known as Trauma Bonding. Is Stockholm Sydrome only applicable to those who have been held hostage or kidnapped? Absolutely not. It is more commonly found in abusive relationships. Abusive relationships are not limited to physical abuse. This syndrome is as common, if not more so, where you find the more insidious psychological and emotional abuse within relationships. Let’s explore.
Those who suffer from Stockholm Syndrome develop an unhealthy positive attachment to their abusers/partners. They come to accept the abuser’s lies and rationalisations. This psychological condition makes it difficult, if not impossible, for the victims to engage in behaviours that facilitate detachment from the abuse, such as exposing misconduct or leaving.
The unhealthy bonding solidifies when the abuser alternates between the carrot and the stick conditioning. The abuse –the lying, the cheating, the implicit or explicit threats and insults, are interlaced with small acts of kindness; gifts, romantic cards, a date to a nice restaurant, apologies and occasional compliments. Needless to say, in any rational person’s mind, a gift or a compliment couldn’t erase months or years of abusive behaviour. Yet, for a woman whose independent judgment and autonomy has been severely impaired, it can and it often does.
Such a woman takes each gift, hollow promise and act of kindness as a positive sign. She hopes that he has learned to love and appreciate her as she deserves. She wants to believe him even when the pattern is repeated over and over again. This is what trauma bonding is all about. The victim irrationally clings to the notion that if only she tries hard enough and loves him unconditionally, the abuser will eventually see the light. He, in turn, encourages her false hope for as long as he desires to string her along. Seeing that he can sometimes behave well, the victim blames herself for the times when he mistreats her. Her life has been reduced to one goal and one dimension, which subsumes everything else. She dresses, works, cooks and makes love in ways that please the psychopath. All the while, her self-esteem becomes exclusively dependent upon his approval and hypersensitive to his disapproval.
However, psychopaths and narcissists can’t be pleased. Relationships with them are always about control, never about mutual love. Consequently, the more psychopaths get from their partners, the more they demand from them. Any woman who makes it her life objective to satisfy a psychopathic partner is therefore bound to eventually suffer from broken self-esteem and a distorted perception of reality. This distorted perception of reality is a cognitive dissonance, which psychopaths commonly inculcate in their victims. The combination of ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ and ‘cognitive dissonance’ creates a victim who firmly believes that the relationship is not only acceptable, but also desperately needed for their survival. They have invested everything and placed all their eggs in one basket. The relationship now decides their level of self-esteem, self-worth, and emotional health.
Oppression creates dependency. Anytime you give, or allow someone to take your personal power, you become bound to their will. We become weak, needy, anxious and fearful and living for those intermittent rewards. Experiments with primates playing with a fruit slot machine that paid out intermittently caused them to play with it all day; the effect of when fruit was given every time they pulled the lever, or when fruit never came out. When we cannot predict when a reward (kindness, affection) will be given, it causes us to intensify our focus and our efforts and it is the premise behind addiction. In relationships, these aspects cause a type of emotional addiction, where a deep emotional attachment is developed to the giver of the abuse.
The same can be said for the atrocities that go on in a relationship with a Narcissist. Many have said that they have never felt such a deep connection to anyone before. They call their abuser their best friend, or even their soul mate. This connection does not come from reciprocal love, kindness and trust. The connection is an expression of the high emotional charge from the trauma. Shared trauma deepens connection.
How can you feel such a strong connection to the actual person that is responsible for the trauma and the pain? Aside from all the emotional and psychological reasons that you continue to stay, there are biological components as well. When someone is flying off the handle at us, our nervous system is on high alert, preparing us to fight or take flight. When we are constantly in this high state of arousal our nervous system become accustomed to the high levels of Cortisol that the body produces. Neural pathways are created and cemented, which will in future make all ‘normal’ relationships seem boring and uninteresting. Why? Not because the abuser is special, it is simply because a healthy relationship cannot produce those same toxic high arousal feelings that you have become accustomed to and believe are deep love and connection.
The issue of motivation is key. Psychopaths’ partners commonly lose weight, dress better, pursue the same hobbies as their partner, all of which may appear to be positive signs. Look a little closer, and it is evident that they’re not if these ‘self-improvements’ are motivated by the desire to gain the psychopath’s approval, keep the peace or to avoid his disapproval. The quest for his validation keeps you (and your self-esteem) enchained to a disordered human being whom can never be satisfied and who doesn’t have your best interest at heart.
Sometimes, family and friends of the victims notice similar behaviour from the victim as from the psychopath himself. Both, for instance, may lie. Contact with a psychopath tends to be contagious and destructive, like a virus. It distorts perceptions of reality, corrupts your moral values and diminishes empathy for others. Perhaps most noticeable of all is the reaction when someone mocks or questions the relationship and the abuser. It is not the abuser who steps up to justify themselves, but rather the victim who becomes hateful, full of rage and defends as ferociously against any perceived attack as if they were defending themselves. The reason behind this is clear – if the truth is told about how weak and pathetic the abuser might be, then the image predicated on lies is destroyed. The victim will have to face their own reality.
Women seduced by psychopaths enter what psychologists call a “hypnotic state.” They shut out any aspects of reality that would reveal the truth. They focus instead only on the parts of reality that conform to the distorted perspectives presented by their partner. Repeated emotional abuse creates psychological trauma. Trauma creates deep attachment bonds; causing a craving for the very person that causes you the most harm. Ultimately, it’s up to you to find the inner strength to confront the truth. Your tortured love for him may last for a long time, but it’s highly unlikely that the psychopath will stick around to see that through. Being stuck in delusion may eventually destroy you. Only the truth will set you free.
Today’s post is inspired by those little denials in which we indulge. I was out running this morning, and determined to ignore the burning pain in my heel because I wanted to hit 10km. As I limped home, I reflected on how denials can escalate to the point where we begin to damage ourselves more acutely than we would ever do by facing the truth.
Denial is a big part of Codependency; denial that anything is wrong, denial of your feelings, denial about your childhood and denial about your romantic partner. Whichever way you choose to slice it, there is a lot of incongruity between a codependent’s perceived reality and reality itself.
Emotional manipulators are drawn to codependents like moths to flames and they would be, for they have a lot in common. Two wounded children playing out their dysfunctional tapes over and over again. Both insecure, both desperate for love, both with a very low sense of self-worth and self-esteem. Both have an external locus of control and how they think they are perceived by others. Both are looking for love, happiness and acceptance outside of themselves to make themselves feel whole. The differences lie in how they express those feelings and beliefs.
A codependent seeks approval by being, doing and giving more than they receive. They derive their self-worth by care taking and over giving. The means of seeking approval and competing with imagined competition for affection will change according to whatever the narcissist chooses to focus on that day. This changes in the blink of an eye, but one thing does remain constant – the fact that the latest craze is another empty way of trying to feel complete.
Narcissists, on the other hand seek approval by creating a false image of themselves to others. They need the attention and affection (supply) of others to maintain their self-esteem. Once they’ve received the required supply, then Mr.Hyde appears. From that point onwards, the Dr. Jekyll that they initially presented becomes a seldom visitor.
As codependents are used to being treated poorly and believe they have to work for love, they don’t run for the hills when the monster shows up. The Narcissist, well-schooled on targeting weaknesses begins a course of psychological warfare all centred around controlling their victims to keep them compliant.
So how does a Narcissist create dependency?
Anxiety: A Narcissists moods can be very volatile. They can rage at the slightest provocation. A codependent, who is already accustomed to ignoring their feelings, learns to tip toe around the precarious moods of their partner. They walk around on egg shells, never knowing when the next proverbial shoe will drop.
Erosion of Self-Esteem: Either overtly or covertly, they take aim at those parts of you that you are most ashamed of. They criticise everything you do, how you look and how you behave. The assault can be so pervasive that you become like a shell of a human being, believing that you can’t do anything right and little by little, every aspect of your life is taken over. You get to a point where you leave everything to them, believing that they know better. You lose yourself in the relationship and let go of your autonomy.
Negative Reinforcement Conditioning: When a Narcissist’s partner stands up for themselves, acts independently or in a manner they disapprove of, a Narcissist will use negative reinforcement to keep them in line. It’s a form of operant conditioning coined and identified by F.B Skinner. It’s the removal of a stimulus the subject wants or requires. Like taking a mobile away from a misbehaving teenager, a Narcissist will remove themselves by disappearing or using silent treatment. We learn through both positive and negative reinforcement. Conditioning is just another tool in subjugation.
Gas Lighting: Gas lighting is the most recent buzz word surrounding Narcissists. It’s a manipulation tactic used by Narcissist to get their victims to question their memory, perception and sanity. They plant seeds of doubt and confusion to further weaken your grasp on reality and have you questioning what you think you know.
Lack of Empathy: They fail to celebrate or acknowledge anything that is important to, or about their partners. They don’t buy gifts, or recognise their partner’s achievements, which has a Codependent claiming that they hate gifts or recognition anyhow. So…that makes it OK….does it? How coincidental you should dislike the very things that you have been conditioned to dislike. They may pick fights right before a birthday, or the holidays to give themselves justification for their behaviour. Why? They don’t want their partners to get too confident. A confident partner is a partner who might decide that they’ve had enough and leave.
Isolation: There is always a big fuss anytime you want to spend time with people you care about. They let you knowhow awful your friends or family are and anytime you talk about them or want to see them a confrontation ensues. They do this because they have spent so much effort into making you doubt your reality they don’t want that messed up by people that have the ability to make you see the truth. The problem is that you have likely already bought into the Narcissist’s game plan. Your friends and family will tell you to get the hell out of there, like any sane person would, but they don’t understand the dynamic you’re stuck in. When you continue to stay, after revealing horrific details of the abuse, they get frustrated with your behaviour to the point where you don’t want to tell them anything anymore, because you can’t deal with their criticism and disappointment, so you stop talking and continue to hide your feelings.
Mind Games: A Narcissist is always playing a game of one-upmanship. If you think you’ve caught them in something, then chances are that they will lie and make up a story. If you accuse them of bad behaviour, then that same behaviour will be reflected back on you and you will be accused of the same thing. They are always trying to outsmart their partners and stay one step ahead of them, everything is a game and designed to keep you in the dark of their behaviour. It feeds the need to feel superior and reinforces their belief that you are lacking intelligence and are inferior.
Vengeful: Fear of punishment and retribution are powerful motivators. If you know that you will be ignored, humiliated, told to move out or have anything that holds meaning to you taken away, then you can be trained to be obedient. In Narcissistic/Codependent relationships there is always a power differential and that power is used as a means of control. They will teach you that everything is their way and when you do not comply, you will be punished in one way or another until you do. The constant erosion of boundaries, expectations and the irrelevance that they put on your needs is another blow to an already fragile sense of self.
You can learn a lot from your mistakes, when you aren’t busy denying them. Denial is the worst kind of lie, because it is the lie that you’re telling yourself and it is often a lie that is more obvious than you think. Maybe your mind won’t admit what your heart already knows.
You’ve cooked, cleaned, ironed, kept your mouth shut, let every dodgy thing slide, apologised for breathing and loved the hell out of them whilst hating yourself. Why isn’t it enough?
Over the years of being a therapist, I’ve heard from many a person who has ended up inadvertently falling into the role of housekeeper, nurse, maid, bank manager, secretary, babysitter, armchair psychologist, emotional airbag, verbal punching bag, master chef and so on and so forth. When we’re inclined to be people pleasers, we suppress our needs and expectations and devote all of time, energy and emotions into pleasing others so that we can be approved of, loved and indispensable. We can feel so unnecessary to ourselves that rolling into a doormat via people pleasing is how we feel vital in people’s lives and in our own.
Hold the knee jerk reaction of, ‘I know how to love” or “No one has ever loved him/her/them as much as I can” as that is more than a little defensive and in all likelihood, is because this resonates with you. Let’s be clear – I’m not for one moment suggesting that it’s ‘bad’ to do things for others. It isn’t. However, I want you to hear the needle being ripped from the record, when your attempt at your own personal brand of showing love is to make yourself ‘indispensable’. Far from ‘loving correctly’ (whatever that means) or winning some whack competition (whack because no one else has entered as they don’t want the ‘prize’), you end up being deeply compromised and very much unappreciated. What you will be appreciated for, however, will be all of the wrong reasons and none of the reasons why you made yourself indispensable in the first place.
And here’s the kicker: making you indispensable isn’t a means of being more loving and demonstrative. Suppressing your feelings, opinions, needs, etc, is going to do anything but achieve this. Why? You’re doing way too much pretending for that.
If you go down the Let Me See If I Can Find One Million and One Ways For You To Not Have To Lift a Finger In This Relationship route, it may appear ‘easier’ than 1) respecting yourself and letting things unfold so that you see whether the other party steps up and 2) having to truly put yourself at ‘risk’ of vulnerability and be more honest about what is going on. Both options require you to hear, see and to more importantly, act.
I remember many moons ago when I was living with my ex fiance. I knew something major had shifted. It felt as if the sun had been out in our relationship (with the ‘occasional’ light to heavy rain, thunder and storms) but now there was just darkness with occasional brightness. In previous times, I’d covered the cracks by fussing around and apologising even if it meant making his apologies for him. In realising that something serious had gone awry and him at one point even saying that he was done, I pulled out the big guns. I tried to keep the place squeaky clean, I cooked, I attempted to master ironing as if I was a dry cleaners (I left more lines in his shirts than a tube map according to him), I tried to be more agreeable (read: mute), I tried never to turn the blinds in the wrong direction…and basically I finally lost touch with me.
And you know what? Nothing was ever enough.
With the benefit of hindsight, I can see now that I used being indispensable in these ways as a substitute for having to do the emotional work on my end in the relationship. This was as simple as seeing the two of us as individual entities, recognising the unhealthiness of our relationship and my own issues. I thought that by making myself ‘necessary to him’ that he had no reason to leave but 1) I had plenty of reasons to leave and 2) he could hire a cook, cleaner etc. You lose respect for you and they lose respect for you plus it all gets a bit blurred around what role you play in their life.
As a child I learned how to read a room as well as people’s moods. Tension and/or the slight possibility of drama or being disapproved of, were my cues to jump through hoops. The problem was, I was never going to have a mutual loving relationship by thinking and behaving in this manner. Ultimately, nothing I was doing was actually addressing the problems and I was also making myself indispensable to somebody who drained me.
Being indispensable in your relationships is the fast track to becoming responsible for everything in the relationship. Unsurprisingly, you’ll be expected to be indispensable on the blame front too. Let’s be honest here, you’ve practically broken your back being a doormat and it’s still not enough. So, you’re bound to feel like it must be something that you’ve ‘done’ because surely if you’re doing all of this stuff, you should be appreciated? Right?
I’ve talked numerous times about overgiving and people pleasing, especially doing the whole ‘good girlfriend’ / ‘good boyfriend’ thing with an ulterior to try to get people to give you what you want. Unless being indispensable is how you roll and you are doing it out of the goodness of your heart (yeah, you’re probably still expecting something), don’t go down this road. If that ‘something’ is that you’re doing all of this to create a tipping point with the other party, take this as gospel that the tipping point will not come. This is not mutual relationship because you both do not feel and/or act equal.
Once you’re more honest about why you feel and act this way, you can acknowledge and address issues and take the first step to acting with self-care. You shouldn’t be putting yourself through an emotional mincer in order to feel worthy or to cling onto a relationship that may actually be compromising you. Love is an action, but if your action is people pleasing, you’re cutting the self-love out of your life. Moreover, you’re sheltering the other party from their responsibilities and their own actions. This is not love, no matter how you dress it up. It’s servitude.
If you wouldn’t do what you’re doing if you didn’t expect some sort of reward at the end, then roll back, way back. Examine what you’re doing all of this stuff to cover up?To avoid conflict? To play down shady behaviour? To avoid being vulnerable? To avoid being alone or single? To fit in? To avoid having to see what’s actually going on?
Often people do this because on some level they believe that they’ll win (win in that the Other will never leave or win in that they will be the exception). It’s why I hear from people who end up repeatedly taking someone back despite dodgy treatment, or trying to fix/heal with their Florence Nightingale ways. On some level they’re thinking, If I’m doing all of this, they have no reason to leave. Sometimes they’re thinking, I did ________ and put up with _______ so they can’t leave. They owe me! You owe you your own respect.
Does this even feel good to you? My guess is that deep down, it really doesn’t. Relationships shouldn’t involve making a master/slave relational unit in order to keep it alive and get whatever prize you imagine you’ll win. There is no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.
Some relationships have to and should end. If you keep seeing the end of a relationship as abandonment, you may too busy trying to hold onto partners at all costs and make them take care of you and never leave. The trouble with this is that you miss some very obvious reasons as to why the relationship isn’t healthy in the first place and shouldn’t continue.
When you’re willing to hold onto a person at all costs, even if that means losing yourself, then you’re saying that you’d rather have them on some terms, even if they’re crummy terms, than not at all. You decide that they’re the only way that you can be happy and you act as if they are oxygen supply. No wonder everyone else is seen as a threat – a threat to your very survival. The very person who is actually contributing to our deep unhappiness is at the same time regarded as the primary or even sole source of our happiness. It’s the whole ‘crumbs is better than no crumbs at all…’ and unfortunately when we don’t treat ourselves well, any person can come along and pretty much say and do very little, and it will still look like more than anything that we’re doing. Of course, it’s out of context because a crumb only looks like a lot when we’re used to little or don’t believe that we deserve more. Bottom line – it’s still crumbs.
Whether a person is shady or not, it’s never good or healthy for us to expect that they will come along and fill our void, no matter how we dress it up to ourselves and the outside world. It’s our job to be our primary carer. We can use adulthood to unlearn all of the unproductive stuff and to figure out how to live our lives happily and authentically as us.
It’s our job to create personal security. We have to reclaim who we are, live our values, and make ‘mistakes’ (read: have experiences) along the way to gain clarity about what does and doesn’t work for us, as well as pay attention to where we’re making strides. We just don’t get much of an opportunity to do this when we nestle ourselves into someone who we’re effectively trying to get them to shelter us from ourselves and life.
It’s too much to expect that romantic partners will do for us what we’re not prepared to do for ourselves and it’s most definitely too much to expect them to fill up voids created by our parents. We want an external solution to our internal issues. We want to be directed and told who we are when that’s our role. We assign these people too much power. In deferring to them as being critically important to our survival, we end creating helplessness and taking up a child role in our very adult relationships. This is particularly scary when we don’t know them and/or they’re abusive.
When they leave or they don’t meet our hopes and expectations, it feels excruciating, especially because it confirms our worst fears and beliefs. We may do things in our quest to hold on that greatly diminish our sense of selves because we keep trying to please in the hopes that they’ll fill our voids and in turn, meet our needs, expectations, and wishes.
When we look for people to parent us, we invariably end up with a mix of one or both our parents who we’re trying to right the wrongs of the past with. We end up living in the past and playing out our child role in an adult setting with disastrous or certainly very painful results. A relationship held together in hostile symbiosis will never end well.
We cannot assign romantic partners (or indeed anyone else for that matter), what amounts to parental obligations. Each and every time we do, it makes us excessively emotionally reliant on these people and we abandon ourselves while being blinded to how toxic the involvement and our expectations are. We have an obligation and even if someone comes along, we still have that obligation to represent regardless. When we stop stepping up for us and behave like someone handing over total control of us and saying ‘Here. I’m yours. Do what you like, make whatever changes you need but just don’t leave’. In effect, we’re giving people the blueprints to screw us over. The shady ones will grab them with both hands.
It’s you who has an obligation to you to look out for you, to be you, to represent and meet your needs, expectations, desires, feelings, and opinions. Whatever you expect of others must be what you’re already being and doing for yourself. Once you do this, you approach relationships from a healthy place of desire, not a matter of needing a saviour for your survival. A person will add to your life not be your life or your surrogate parent.
Narcissism and narcissist have become catch-all terms for anyone who behaves badly. There is a world of difference between someone who behaves like a bit of a plonker and a bone fide narcissist. Usually, I discuss narcissism in the context of healing and loving with self-esteem and ultimately understanding ourselves and our choices so that we break unhealthy patterns.
After numerous questions and requests around narcissism and the narcissistically inclined, here are some of my thoughts in no particular order. Rather than add to the misuse of these terms, I hope that I can offer up some information, perspective and perhaps most importantly some understanding of what narcissism truly is. Moreover, I hope this will promote empathic self reflection and introspection as to what part you may play in the dance:
- All narcissists are emotionally unavailable but not all emotionally unavailable people are narcissists. Don’t confuse the two. Unavailable relationships take two unavailable people to keep them going.
- Narcissists enjoy collecting supply from people who exaggerate their own negative qualities and characteristics and who are prone to excessive self-blame—inverted narcissism. Such people tend to feel deeply flattered and suddenly valuable when a narcissist turns their positive attention on them, but will also default to accepting the blame when the charm is withdrawn. Both have excessive concern with themselves, but are coming at this from different angles.
- A narcissist will build you up so that not only will you reciprocate but so that when they inevitably discard you, it will feel that much more powerful. Due to being highly insecure, their seemingly positive behaviour always has a hidden agenda. Sometimes they’re aware of this at the time and sometimes, they realise post-action that something can be used to their advantage. It’s all about leveraging power and control.
- It’s never about you with a narcissist. This doesn’t mean that you don’t possess attractive qualities and characteristics, but the overarching aim of a narcissist’s general activities is to boost themselves. Liking something about you is really like saying, “Look at how well I’ve done”, something you will be familiar with if you have a narcissistically inclined parent. If you seemingly flourish under their charm and influence, they’ll see no problem in taking credit for your greatness and then discarding you to snatch it back. It’s also important to note that when they’re complimenting you, they expect you to reciprocate even if you don’t mean it or you don’t know what you’re saying to be true. Who is the most likely to do that? Yep, a people pleaser.
- A narcissist knows that what they’re putting across and what you’re saying to elevate them, is not true. On one hand, they enjoy the adulation but on the other, they punish you for ‘mocking’ them even though it’s not what you’re doing, or you’re punished for being one of the ‘fools’ who doesn’t see through them. Yeah, no matter how much you try to convince yourself you’re doing better than anyone before you, you can’t and won’t win.
- Engaging with a narcissist is in effect, like trying to make sense out of nonsense. Unless you are a narcissist yourself, don’t expect to get in their head or to be able to base your expectations of them on how you or other people generally act. Accept what you know wholly and fully right now instead of burning brain cells trying to figure them out.
- Narcissists are very clever at taking grains of truth and building an argument. They defend the grains with the ferocity that makes it all too easy to forget logic, never mind reality and the actual truth.
- Narcissistically inclined is a good enough reason to go. One of the criteria for ‘qualifying’ as a narcissist is bad enough so why hang about? Or why split hairs over them having four instead of the five of the 9 diagnostic criteria (DSM IV)? Why wait to see if five becomes more? Most narcissists go undiagnosed because, yeah, erm, they’re narcissists so they’re not exactly rushing to sit in a therapist’s office (and will only lie and tell you that the therapist said there’s nothing wrong with them and that it’s everyone else). They’re often functional in certain circumstances but come unstuck around interpersonal relationships. Just because they’re undiagnosed, it doesn’t mean that they’re not a narcissist or problematic. Don’t make the mistake of using lack of diagnosis or denial masquerading as doubt, to opt back in to the situation. You don’t need to prove a person to be 100% narcissist or 100% toxic in order to get out—that’s like only being willing to call the ambulance when you’re flatlining.
- Don’t keep pumping the empty well or hanging about with your bucket. The things that keep you awake at night, that baffle you, are a sign of how you have overcompensated and have become desensitised to toxic behaviour and situations. It is also a red flag that you maybe looking to be the exception and expecting to be the recipient of empathy from someone who doesn’t have it to give. This sets you up to be in a cycle of trying to make an ‘authority’ give you the love you’ve been searching for but unable to get. Perhaps a key person in your early life may have convinced you or inferred that this is what love is, so you then seek romantic partners that keep you feeling the way that you did around them. This is highly dangerous because you cannot make romantic partners into your parental replacement. Time and again I talk to people who have been so caught up in the feelings, that they have not stepped back and connected the dots with what it’s really about.
- To keep pursuing the love of a narcissist is to seek love against the odds. You think you can only be loved under highly exceptionable circumstances. You expect to be the exception to the rule in the hopes of righting the wrongs of the past. Pain and love have become intertwined and you’re setting you up to fail.
- The narcissist being the highly insecure person that they are, cannot keep up the act that they presented in the beginning. There isn’t a ‘solution’ to their narcissism, so all the giving and pleasing in the world or trying to find a magic solution to make them become who they presented as at the beginning or during the ‘good times’, is a losing game and just blocks your exit from the cycle. Even when you are not aware of who they really are or what they have been up to, because they’re very insecure and prone to paranoia, they project their innermost feelings and thoughts onto you and call it your deeds, thoughts and problems. They start acting out and punishing you (it might be more subtle passive aggression or betrayals behind your back initially) as if you have done something, when all it is is that they know based on their pattern, that they’ve done something wrong. They inadvertently and directly sabotage out of fear. It’s like eat or be eaten. They attack you first so you don’t have any strength left to query it or fight back.
- Knowing that you’re desiring them or in pain is as good as having you. The narcissist doesn’t need to come back to somebody who is 1) still chasing him/her or competing with the harem despite being discarded or 2) consumed by what [the narcissist] did to such a degree that it is obvious that they have not moved on. The more practised they are at their BS, is the more secure they are in these assumptions. Why? Knowing that they can have you is as good as having you. In some twisted way, it’s like you being affected by them legitimises why they think it’s OK to act as they do. That’s not because it’s true—it’s warped logic. They can’t account for their own actions (no empathy, don’t take responsibility), so they blame the victim for being the victim or for not seeing through them—it’s as if being loved or wanted is that person’s ‘weakness’.
- Anyone can be attracted to a narcissist; we’ve all felt attraction to someone who we did not know yet. Narcissists are also very good blenders, charmers, and performers. That said, if you stick around or this is part of a pattern, instead of blaming you for their crummy behaviour, take a closer look at any unresolved issues that you may or may not be aware of so that you can start getting the hell out of dodge.
- Sometimes it hurts to admit that they’re who they are because it reveals the truth about someone else. You may have a problem admitting that this person is narcissist because it feels disloyal to the parent or significant person in your past who inspired this disproportionate need for validation. You might also find it hard to admit because it reveals that you are in a child role or that you were deeply attracted to how things look—the fantasy. There can also be shame around having liked someone who has proven to be rather low on true character. It’s admitting all of these concerns that may just be the beginning of ending the crazy.
- If it feels as if someone has come along and bombed your existence or hijacked your reality, in all likelihood, you’ve been involved with someone disordered. Call them a narcissist, a sociopath, a psychopath or whatever you want – the bottom line is that non-disordered people don’t decimate your life and then feign ignorance at why you’re upset or show no remorse. If you’re going to invest time, energy and money into understanding them, do so to understand how to get away and to heal, not to try and diagnose or justify your way back into a toxic relationship.
- Narcissists reflect the need to love yourself. Or, in the words of Justin Bieber, “If you like the way you look that much, oh baby you should go and love yourself”. The job of narcissist is to hold a mirror up to your dire need for genuine self-love instead of looking for a share of someone’s exaggeration. A narcissist cannot truly love or empathise. You might think that their ‘crumbs’ and ‘good times’ are amazing but when you look at what you’re actually getting or not getting, you realise that the emperor has no clothes. What you experience is very surface and going through the motions. Narcissists come unstuck because they’re the equivalent of actors who play a part by acting what they think the character is like. The best actors are the ones who live and breathe the character, thinking about what that character would think, say and do and doing these to become the character. In the real world, people who have strong character and learn to embody their values are able to do it consistently, not just rolling it out for an agenda. Narcissists fall short because they can play at the charming stuff but they are unable to do the actions of character, intimacy and commitment. They lie, cheat and charm their way into relationships, which is easier to do with someone who wants love via the equivalent of a Get Rich Quick scheme, who turns a blind eye because they enjoy the high and are delaying the inevitable.
- A narcissist can force you to heal old pain. Similar to what affairs do, they’re like exorcisms that force every ugly feeling, thought and every hidden issue out of you. These experiences awaken you to the truth of your struggle and how you’ve been too hard on you. They force you to see you the truth about a person from your past. They force you to stop acting like a kid and acting from a place of fear. If you had a blind spot and pattern that you have not taken heed about, a narcissist will force you to finally recognise it with no equivocations, as long as you see the pain of what is going on for what it actually is instead of hankering for more of it and trying to get them to go back to when you didn’t know who they were, which is like saying that what was wrong for you is right, which invites more pain. When you stop trying to right the wrongs of the past and see your connection to them for what it is, this person rapidly loses their power.
If you have it in you to love, to empathise and truly see and connect with other humans, then the spiritual task of the narcissist is to force you to take on the task of being responsible for and loving you. Only by doing so will they and the pain go away. Finally, you can focus on becoming open to experiencing real and sustainable love from within and outside of you.
One of the things that I’ve recognised differentiates healthy and unhealthy relationships is the presence of excuses, whether it’s yours and/or theirs. In the worst of situations, you may even be making excuses for their excuses, which only goes to show how poor the original excuse was. On the other side of a jumped boundary lies disrespect. On the other side of an excuse often lies an element of disrespect, and also the real reason.
An excuse is a reason that is given to justify fault, but it’s ulterior purpose is to lessen responsibility by getting you to overlook, excuse, or even forgive off the back of it. This is rather tricky because when there is an excuse, it means that any commitment is being lessened, so everything else tied to it becomes pretty flimsy.
People often get ‘reasons’ and ‘excuses’ mixed up. Excuses allow people to remain in their uncomfortable comfort zone, dodge conflict by avoiding honesty both with others and themselves, dodge accountability and cast themselves in a better light.
Saying “The dog ate my homework” gives the impression that you’ve been a victim of misfortune and avoids conflict. Whereas saying “I couldn’t be arsed to do my homework” or “I forgot” makes you look lazy and lacking in conscientiousness. Likewise, saying “I’ve been really busy” gives the impression that you’re so busy that you haven’t had the time to contact or see them whereas saying “I’m not interested / am half-hearted / have been trying to get back with my ex” will not only have you in the position of saying something that most people squirm at, it will also quite possibly invite ‘conflict’. If you’re the type of person that likes to hedge your bets, you may want to keep them as a rainy day option. Maybe you are hoping that they’ll take the hint and do your job for you.
Excuses are inherently negative whereas things happen every day that are positive that have reasons behind them. That’s what a reason is; a cause or an explanation and yes, sometime it is a justification for something happening. A reason doesn’t lessen responsibility or even act as an automatic precursor to being excused or forgiven. What I’ve found differentiates a genuine reason from an excuse is that when someone provides a reason for why something has or hasn’t happened, a solution is never far behind.
People who make excuses aren’t really looking to ‘make sh*t happen’ or find a solution that you can both live with or make amends. Excuses are not real reasons; they’re BS ones. Well guess what? When someone uses an excuse, they’re really saying:
“Look, hurry the hell up and get off my case so I can get my shag / ego stroke / shoulder to lean on / money / perfect image back etc. You perceiving me as wronging/hurting/abusing/whatever you, is setting off my responsibility alarm bells which is setting off my reality alarm bells which is setting off my commitment, expectation, and intimacy alarm bells. The sooner I’m excused, the sooner I can get back to doing what I always do.”
Or “Look, can you hurry the hell up and get off my back because I’m only offering up this feeble justification for what I’ve said/done or failed to say/do because the real reason doesn’t sound too great when said out loud and may invite conflict, plus if I gave you the real reason, it would put me in the position of actually having to do something.”
Sometimes, they’re even saying “Look, you know and I know what’s happened here but if you want to go along with this charade, I’ll throw you an excuse and see how much more of a free ride I can get.”
Sometimes, they’re saying, “Wow, it seems like you don’t seem to see what’s really going on here! Can’t you see I ain’t sh*t?!/ Can’t you see that I clearly am not putting in the time and effort here? Hmmm…well I won’t be direct with you because I don’t want to look like the bad guy here, so I’ll palm you off with this excuse in the hope that you get the hint. And if you don’t, well it’d be almost rude not to avail of what’s on offer…”
Often it’s literally “I cannot be arsed to put some real effort into a real reason.”
And when you make excuses for their excuses such as “I’m telling you….I’m not leaving! You’re the best thing I’ve never had or only had for a short time before the Future Faking ended and I don’t want to let go of the fantasy because then I’d have to see and accept some uncomfortable things and even get out of my comfort zone. You’re gonna love me!” And when you make excuses for yourself “I’m not really looking to find a solution or take any action that would involve making a decision and leaving my comfort zone.”
Behind every excuse is the real reason.
Sometimes it simply boils down to “I don’t want to try” and what’s really important is that you don’t clog up your life with excuses because you’ll become a person of inaction that doesn’t make decisions. Excuses, especially when we buy into them, make things appear more complicated than they are.
Trust me when I say that when someone is looking to maintain the status quo and keep palming you off with excuses, no solutions are on the horizon. After all, if they’re the one making the excuses, they’d have to be a part of the solution, which means they have to be responsible in the relationship, which means that excuses become redundant.
You’ll know you’re in a healthy relationship when you don’t have to listen to excuses or make excuses. Instead of accepting excuses, start accepting the reasons.
For many a codependent in a relationship, there may come that inevitable moment where you realise that you have done too much; cared too much; sacrificed too much time, energy, money and emotion. All of it, just to be loved and appreciated. Instead, you’re left feeling disrespected, foolish and used.
If enough time goes by, perhaps you will minimise, make excuses for and forget about these feelings. There will be a brief moment, before the denial and delusion kicks in where you’ll sit there wondering, “What the hell is wrong with me? Why am I giving so much and getting so little in return?” And it’s those thoughts that will make you damn angry. If you’re so used to being a pleaser, those angry feelings will dissipate quickly. Maybe you will explain it away by saying, “I don’t hang on to anger for very long,” or tell yourself that you are full of love or become hostile to others who see the pattern or try to help. Soon, you’ll be back to the same old pattern and the cycle will continue.
Why do those angry feelings still come? Those angry feelings come because we all have an innate sense of right and wrong. Injustice bothers all of us to our core and it is something that cannot be ignored, even when it’s happening to little old unworthy us. Hang on to that angry feeling when it comes – it is the key to breaking the pattern. When most codependents talk about making the break from their narcissistic partners it’s during one of these angry episodes.
Anger is a catalyst for change. It motivates action because it’s uncomfortable and when we’re uncomfortable, that is the time we will actually do something about it. The problem for most codependents is the self taught programme of disconnecting from our feelings, tuck them away and carry on as if nothing untoward has happened and that’s just what we do.
Those angry feelings need to become the warning sign that directs us to our own self-care. We need to get real about when we are being disrespected and what it really means. We need to ask ourselves, “Am I being disrespected? Am I engaging in something that is harmful to my well-being?” And if the answers are yes then that’s where we need to stake our boundary, take a stand and take action.
When those alarm bells go off pay attention. When an emotionally healthy person is feeling those feelings in relation to how they are being treated by their partner, it’s like a switch goes off and they start to look at their relationship through a different lens. It doesn’t necessarily mean they end it, but their behaviours following those feelings differ from those of codependents. They do not fear being alone, so they are capable of taking action – like sticking up for themselves, making plans to break and eventually walking away.
When the emotional alarm keeps ringing – Wake up!: Acknowledge that these feelings serve a purpose, that they are real and they are important. They are trying to tell you that change is necessary here. Pay attention.
Don’t disregard your feelings – feel them. A coping mechanism learned by most codependents in childhood was to disconnect from their feelings, tuck them away and render them unimportant. This time don’t do that. Create a new coping mechanism that screams, “My feelings are important. This time I’m paying attention to them. This time I’m going to act on them,” and allow yourself to experience them. Sit with your feelings and let them flow through you. Allow them to be whatever they are. Examine them. Be mindful of how your mind tries to minimise bad behaviour and also how it tries to diminish your right to react appropriately. Challenge these notions and don’t allow yourself to replay your old tapes of minimising and accepting responsibility.
Be direct and don’t avoid conflict: Codependents love to keep the peace and smooth things over. Stop doing that. When you’re in a relationship with someone and they are ignoring you, cheating on you, or any other number of disrespectful behaviours – speak up. What they are doing is not ok and you have every right to express yourself. Remember if you have been conditioned to expect very little from someone – that’s a problem. If you’ve been trained not to react or rock the boat, then you need to react and rock that damn boat. You don’t have to get into a screaming match, but you need to learn how to say, “This is not ok. I’m done.” You teach people how to treat you and when you say nothing to disrespectful behavior, it’s the same as giving it a thumbs up.
Create and honour boundaries: When it doesn’t feel good it’s very likely a boundary has been busted. Remember that negative behavior A always gets Consequence B. Consistency is key. It really is that simple.
Detach from the Outcome: If you having boundaries makes them walk away – then let them walk away. If you speaking up for yourself makes them leave; hold the door for them. If you demanding to be treated with respect makes them lose it, blame you and threaten to leave the relationship; beat them to the punch and end it yourself. Don’t ever let a fear of being alone, fear of abandonment, or a need to please and be loved, make you abandon yourself.
You are responsible for your self-care. Only you. Let your self respect emerge and grow by doing right by you. If someone is okay, or acts like they are just fine without you, then maybe they are not for you.
Happy New Year to you all! So, it’s good to be back after a nice long break over the Christmas period. I thought that the start of a brand new year is a great time to readdress some key points about mentality and attitude. Why? Because remember, – how we think, feel, and act is often reflected back at us in our relationships…
1. Negative Beliefs: As long as you carry negative beliefs about yourself, love, and relationships, or misconceptions about these things, they will be reflected in your relationships.
2. You get into relationship with people who reflect how you feel about yourself: If you don’t believe that you deserve to be loved or treated decently, then lo and behold, you will be around those who exacerbate these beliefs and reconfirm the negatives.
3. You cannot impose change upon someone else: As individuals, we have no right to demand change from others, even if those changes would lead to something better. You don’t date a person that you don’t want and try to build them from the ground up. You can’t decide that just because you think you love them that they must do as you expect. If you were both singing from the same hymn sheet, you’d both be doing what was in the interests of your relationship, not fighting it.
4. Loving someone (or thinking you love them) doesn’t mean ipso facto they love you: We need to get real about our concept of ‘unconditional love’. and loving those that we hardly know and who aren’t connected with us. If we’re emotionally unavailable and they’re emotionally unavailable, where exactly is the love? Certainly not in the relationship because you’re both disconnected.
5. Of course you’re going to feel like sh*t if you refuse to take the hint from those who mistreat you or has opted out/moved on: Clinging to them and the relationship when it’s over is like masochism. No, you can’t instantly get over them but your self-esteem grows when you recognise that you’re abusing yourself by pursuing love from someone who repeatedly rejects you, or uses you…and still rejects you anyway.
6. Self-blame, obsessing and analysis is for those that don’t want to move on: Resolve to either be accountable and make better choices or to stop thinking. The likelihood is that you will choose the former. I can guarantee you, there is jack all to be gained by analysing the crap out every day, minute and second of your relationship. At some point, you have to admit that it is what it is because your life will pass you by whilst you’re conducting a relationship in your head with a clown.
7. Don’t let the golden dream of the promised land blind you: If you spend your life waiting for someone to turn into what you want or waiting for your life to become what you’d like based on the actions of others, you will find yourself bitterly disappointed. Live the life you have now. If they aren’t how you wanted them to be six months ago, a year ago, or whenever, and they still are not what you want now, why keep betting on potential and refuse to make a decision?
8. If you keep getting the same result from doing the same thing, start doing it differently. As I’ve said before, it makes sense that if you keep throwing yourself into oncoming traffic that you are bound to be hurt when you get run over! Throwing yourself in front of the car a further 20 times isn’t going to change the outcome. If you’re not happy with how things are and you’re being, feeling, and doing much of the same things, it’s time to start being, feeling, and doing something else.
9. When you meet someone and you both engage with each other in a healthy way the relationship grows and gets better over time: It doesn’t come to a grinding halt, go into reverse or go in fits and starts. Poor relationships often start hot out the gate and fade to cold or lukewarm and then flit through the temperatures. Healthy relationships build. You get to know the person and connect with them over time. You don’t wake up after a a couple of years and suddenly realise you’re on a permanent date or that you don’t even know them.
10. And remember, pain is not love, it’s pain: Don’t get things twisted. That familiar feeling of excitement you think you’re feeling, the surge that you get when drama kicks off and all that jazz? That’s not lust or love, that’s fear and pain. Relationships, whilst they take ‘work’, they don’t take the kind of work that feels like work. When two people are in a relationship with both of them with their feet in, you share the common ground of each other and have each others best interests at heart. You bring out the best in each other, are yourselves and you grow together rather than grow apart.