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The Toxic Lover January 10, 2010

Posted by jassnight in Change, Dating, Love, Relationship, Sex.
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Have you ever had a partner who doesn’t play by the same rules he or she imposes on you?  How about a girlfriend who continuously holds you down in a continuous pit of depression and hurt? Maybe your companion was so possessive of you that you felt imprisoned within an emotional cage. These are all strong indicators of a toxic lover.

There are many abuses that can metastasize in a relationship. It is so hard to comprehend at times that we DO hurt the ones we love. Some abuses are overt, such as physical abuse. Others are not so apparent and can easily be masked by the blinding effects of love and passion.

Scenario #1

The relationship moved quickly in the beginning for Bob and Linda. It was like magic. Before Bob knew it, he was feeling a close bond with Linda and felt she was coming closer to him as well. When he tried to discuss these emotions, Linda would just say, “I feel that way too Bob, but I can’t make any promises right now.” Promises or not, Linda began to display possessive behavior. She insisted on knowing Bob’s whereabouts constantly. She would demand that he return her texts immediately even when he was in meetings or classes. If he evaded her questions or was indisposed, she would blow up at him and accuse him of infidelities that were completely irrational. Worst of all, when Bob wanted to go out with friends, even though he would invite Linda to go with him, she would relentlessly monitor the evening through calling, texting, or showing up unannounced. At first, Bob felt excited and loved. After all, a little jealousy is an alluring thing. But after a while, Bob found himself staying home instead of going out with friends for fear that Linda would get upset. He felt enclosed and restricted. Bob finally realized that Linda wanted a commitment from him without making any promises or commitments to him.

Scenario #2

Karen met Matthew in her accounting class. He was deep and mysterious in his thinking. To her, this was alluring to have a man so connected to his emotion. Their discussions centered around feelings and connection, passion and love, pain and suffering. In the beginning Karen believed that the relationship they were building was itself, deep and passionate. However, when Karen had good news to share, or just wanted to involve Matthew in positive discussions or do something fun with him, he would make her feel guilty about her happiness by dragging her back into the darkness of his life. She began to feel as if the only way they could connect was through his lens of emotions. She began to feel guilty about feeling happy, wanting to do something fun, or sharing good news with him.

Scenario #3

Patrick thought Crissy was beautiful. She was the woman of his dreams. After a few dates, he was quickly finding himself falling for her. She had no problem telling him everything about herself. It seemed so easy for her to share her life with him and he loved every minute of it. As the relationship grew, she began to include him in her life in various ways. He would help her prepare class notes and prepare meals to take to her nutrition class she was teaching. She would ask for his advice about finances, include him in helping her study for an upcoming exam or writing her papers. When she was upset, she would come to him for consolation and advice. At first, this all made Patrick feel needed and wanted by her. Unfortunately, when Patrick wanted Crissy’s help on something, or even to spend time with her, in most cases she was unavailable for him. He started to wonder how Crissy even knew who he was. All they would talk about was her life. All that they would do together, was her projects. He began to feel used.

I am sure if you look back on your past relationships (or even your present one) you will see yourself in one of these situations.  They are more common than you think. All of these scenarios first feel like true love, want, longing, and trust. However, they quickly become a pattern of inequality, emotional abuse and mistrust. Why does someone tolerate a toxic relationship then? Love is blind that is for sure. The overwhelming excitement of a new love can mask many of the early signs that you are getting involved with a toxic lover. The rationalization that you may be partly to blame makes you feel like you have to work on the relationship. The fear of being alone can keep you there. In general, change, whether it is good or bad, is always difficult. Internally we tend to rationalize because it is much easier than changing our behavior (see Cognitive Dissonance) but it is even more difficult when you are under the mental and physical influences of love and sexual desire. External wake-up calls can be useful in this case.

Have you or are you experiencing any of these external indicators?

  • Does your partner expect you to follow certain guidelines in the relationship that she/he does not place on themselves?
  • Do your friends or family tell you that they see problems in your relationship?
  • Are you hesitant to go out with friends or even on your own for fear of upsetting your partner?
  • Do you feel you have to consistently change your plans to satisfy the needs of your partner?
  • Are conversations with your partner consistently one-sided?
  • Are you pulling away from your friends and other activities that you enjoyed before your relationship?
  • Do you feel compelled to consistently satisfy the needs of your partner before your own?

In the end, it is about balance. If you are feeling more like a possession rather than a mutual partner, maybe it is time for a change.

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Comments»

1. BigLittleWolf - January 10, 2010

This is a very lucid account of a very common situation many of us have found ourselves in. The mire of a relationship with any number of imbalances around key issues. Typically one loves – strongly – and puts up with unreasonable emotional (or other) conditions, which tend to reveal themselves gradually.

You captured it well.

Been there, done that, trying to learn and never do that again. That’s the real trick. There are signs. And some of us have patterns that we don’t break easily.

2. Nicki - January 10, 2010

This is very well thought out and presented. Balance is a precarious item, whether in a relationship or in an individual’s life.

3. osmosisofaffliction - January 11, 2010

Toxicity is a complex issue and I see that you’ve nailed some of the tell-tale signs.

Many of us who experience it, or have already lived it, worry about the residue it leaves in our own lives and how we may, or can effect others. Contamination is long-reaching and can destroy, if we are unaware of it’s potential for harm. I am one of those who is painfully aware, and still trying to clean up the wasteland that those relations left behind. That is why I stay single – it is to protect them from me. ~soft smile~

Well done, Jass.

jassnight - January 11, 2010

Not only can it be infused and copied by the victim, it can also cause trust and intimacy issues with any future relationship the victim encounters. It is all bad. What I didn’t touch on is how low self esteem is a common trait in victims. It is a major factor in why people accept such behavior from their partner.

Now tell me, what does one do when the toxic lover resurfaces and wants to reconnect? Ironically, I just experienced this. God it felt so good to say – “f-u”

Your thoughts Osmosis?

4. osmosisofaffliction - January 12, 2010

But of course, Jassy – that’s what toxic waste does; it pollutes. I’ve been saying that for years.

As far as self-esteem issues, well, that returns with the re-build, so to speak.

And normally I would go to a private e-mail with this next statement, but just allow me to say very publicly that personally I had to leave him, my home, my life, my friends, drop out of existence, literally, disappear and move as far away from ‘that man’ as I could go, just to survive.

Sometimes things are not always as simple as they may appear.

Assigning the word ‘victim’ may apply as one sees fit, but I refuse to be a victim, who is controlled by fear and abuse, ever again.

It appears that you have broken the spell that your toxic lover had over you as well. That is progress, through an objective lens …

… the difference between FU and freedom is the ability to Breathe.

5. Deena Kay - January 20, 2010

I’m always late to the party! Its because I go away for a bit and then come back and catch up.

I never felt victimized. There was absolute imblance in some regards but for the most part, nothing ever happened that I didn’t let happen. When we call ourselves “Victim” it indicates that we were somehow weaker than them and I wont accept that for myself. It’s always our right to walk away. As much as I can give hand in any trusted relationship, I can also take it back if abused or taken advantage of. I dont play buy the rules of others if I don’t want to.

Taking ownership of what we allow others to do is, at least for me, more empowering. If I am a victim, that means I had no control or power in that aspect of my life. For me, that’s much to the contrary. My problem is being overly tolerant which leads to some thinking I’m just, figuratively speaking, somebody’s punching bag.

As a generally submissive person I will say that submissiveness is built upon trust and once that trust is damaged, it can be repaired but once detroyed, it never comes back. 🙂

jassnight - January 20, 2010

Great thoughts and so true Deena, thanks!

6. What strange thing is going to happen to me today? « The Critical Path - February 5, 2010

[…] relationship and I was blind to the effects of it and the damage that it eventually did to me. This toxic lover would always start a voicemail or text with “hi, it’s me” and for a minute I stopped breathing […]


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