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The Toxic Lover January 10, 2010

Posted by jassnight in Change, Dating, Love, Relationship, Sex.
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8 comments

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.

Is passion dangerous? November 8, 2009

Posted by jassnight in Love, Passion, Relationship.
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3 comments

rain_passion_1People have often told me that I possess an inordinate amount of enthusiasm and passion for life.  Well, I do. I am not going to apologize. I am an excitable boy for sure! However, I will be the first to admit that in several cases, my enthusiasm and passion has caused personal pain and discord. In my life, when emotion becomes dominant over rational thinking, trouble ensues.

Pure raw emotion for anything is the aphrodisiac of life. It can be addicting and there can be a total disregard for the consequences of seeking and possessing it. Trouble follows, pain ensues, danger increases, relationships or possibly lives terminate.

Nobody depicts the horrors of passion better than Ang Lee, the director of both Brokeback Mountain and Lust/Caution. Both of these heart-wrenching movies depict how passion can never end well. Both stories tell of two people in extreme irrational infatuation for one another and then how outside influences slowly destroy their lives.

Passion does not have to always be associated with relationships. Passion thrives within several contexts, and likewise can be just as dangerous. In the movie, Empire of the Sun, I truly appreciate how Steven Spielberg depicts passion with young Christian Bale (the character Jim) and his extreme passion for fighter planes and the pilots. His raw emotion is portrayed in the scene when the Japanese airstrip is being attacked by US fighter planes.  Jim, totally disregarding his own safety, climbs atop the roof of a building where he immerses himself in a climactic display of raw emotion in the midst of chaos. He is brought back to reality when the doctor (Nigel Havers) grabs him and tells him, “Try not to think so much!”

Ironically, I have had several friends do the same thing to me.  Several times in my recent life when I have gone over the edge with passion, I have had more than one friend tell me, “Try not to think so much.”  It works. Pulling myself out of the emotion helps. It gives the raw passion a rational perspective. It keeps me out of harm’s way.

I am a fan of passion. I have been there and I do pray I will have the rare pleasure of experiencing it again. However, I must be cautious. I am a surviving addict. I know what it can do to me. I know how close I can come to danger.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines passion as: Intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction. However, it also states that its obsolete definition is “suffering.”