Thursday, March 19, 2009

Toxic Love

Many people are in toxic relationships with a significant other, family member, friends, or with the person reflected in the bathroom mirror. We're taught as children to respect ourselves, and that love doesn't hurt. As we age and shed childish dreams and distance ourselves from our parents' protection, we slowly forget these important lessons and enter into destructive relationships that corrode our confidence and self-worth in order to hang onto somoeone we'd be better off removing from our lives.

It takes two or more to create a toxic situation. The spiritual vampire is normally at the center of the storm along with his/her willing victim. Love and/or the promise of love is seductive, intoxicating, and can be overwhelming in its early stages. I'd venture that most of us enjoy the pursuit, courtship, and initial euphoria of new romantic love or a platonic friendship.

Is love about power, egos, and manipulation? When dealing with an insecure person, certain relationships can resemble a corporate acquisition. These spiritual vampires are quite skilled in what to say and do to attract fans, admirers, and pawns to move about on their Chess board.

Manipulation is both subtle and overt, and oftentimes when we realize we've been lulled into a walking coma, it seems as if it's too late. The Kool-Aid has been digested and taken up residence in our flesh and bones. At this stage, panic sets in, and we feel woozy, stuff our clothes and last remnants of our pride inside an old suitcase, and head for the door.

The dominant one in a toxic relationship isn't always the one with strongest personality or the most intelligent. S/he is a master manipulator, skilled in guilt, and various partner dances to keep victims cheek to cheek whenever the scent of an escape wafts on the air.

All toxic relationships aren't created equal, and some can become dangerous or even turn deadly if left unchecked and untreated. The battered woman who forgives her mate after the first assault and remains in the home is asking for a repeat performance if she doesn't seek help or altogether leave.

Habitual arguments between romantic partners, roommates, or platonic friends should be examined for their root cause. Dancing with a demon isn't fun, as we rise and fall, sway back and forth in that familiar and hypnotic, addictive Tango or Waltz.

How many of us endure toxic relationships because we think we can't do better than the person we're involved with or that we don't deserve mutual friendships? How many of us keep stoking the flames of a relationship because we'd otherwise feel lonely? Rational thinking is abandoned because we yearn for attention, encouragement, and support. Granny always told us, "You can do bad all by yourself. You don't need anyone to help you with that."

I'm not advocating President Obama allocate money to research this oftentimes puzzling interpersonal dynamic, but we need an open dialogue for those who suffer, and treatment for the perpetrators.

I'd like to hear from you on how you ended a toxic relationship. Was it difficult to sever all ties? How long did it take?


Baldwin Press said...

I was in a toxic relationship as an undergrad. I met LJ when I was 18. He was smart, cute and funny, which somehow blinded me from recognizing that he was selfish and emotionally immature. I went through a lot with him.

At 22 I found myself crying in the middle of my apartment, rocking back and forth, getting a headache, and having my neck, back and shoulders tense up. In the middle of it all, I decided that I deserved to be treated with more respect. I told him that I couldn't do it anymore and never looked back.

I can now look back and see what was going on with me, what was lacking, etc. I can also spot a man's 'red flags' before he walks around a corner. I learned a lot.

Nina said...

I've been one awesomely bad toxic relationship and for as much as it sucked, I learned A LOT about myself, other people and what I deserve. It took taking a step back to see it all, but when I finally did it was amazing. Never will I ever allow someone else to dictate my happiness. It was bad at the time, but I am grateful for the experience. How else would I have learned how much I am worth / deserve and what behaviors/actions I will not accept from other people?

Philly's Andrea said...


Anonymous said...

It took me year's to realize that human beings all have patterns and they are made by their own life experiences.

If a person you are in a relationship with is physically or verbally aggressive towards you, or they encourage you to engage in activities that you normally would not then this person does not have your best interests at heart.

And that they have an issue that they need to change within themselves, you can't change them or wait hoping they will change. No matter if they genuinely love you or you them.

Excellent Post :)

cameronsharpe said...

All you mentioned are true but sometimes, LOVE is TOO STRONG to control your feelings. You may have reasons to engage yourself into a relationship such as this - having a bf or gf older or younger than you are but the thing is, it's all about the commitment and the chemistry of handling a good relationship. These are natural reasons but there's always a deeper basis once you are in that relationship. Just a thought. Thanks for the blog :)