If you’re anything like me, you’ve struggled with getting relationships to work out right for some time. I know that I’m not alone, because 65% of all the songs that are written, 50% of well-known poems, and a high percentage of movies revolve around the themes of the development of loving relationships and pitfalls of relationships with problems.
It was a tremendously helpful revelation to me when I realized that there was a pattern in my relationships with lovers that involved the experience of deep pain. And some of the worst moments of my life came from feeling powerless when relationships were difficult.
I came to understand that I was playing out patterns in my relationships that I had lived in during my childhood. I was then able to begin to take steps to change. Sometimes the patterns were subtle and sometimes they were extreme.
I had to create my own program that built on my successes and avoided my failures. It helped me to work on nurturing love that would be fulfilling. And within that love I could be giving and make room for both of us to grow.
To address our struggles with love relationships, we need to understand that addictions pertaining to love and relationships are very common (particularly in the West). We behave in the context of love and relationship addiction because we see it happening so much all around us. It is an addiction to continue to fight with a partner. It is an addiction to continually attract toxic partners. It is an addiction to be unhappy.
These and other addictions are such that they create diversions and distractions from the relationship difficulties. When we’re mired in addictive behaviors, it makes it so that we don’t have to address the real problem in a given relationship. And the real problem is that we are broken children driven by our brokenness.
People who don’t have such problems are those who have worked on themselves for decades. Perhaps there are people who did not become broken children over time, but I doubt it. But in the event that you don’t have relationship problems then you need not read this article.
You may now be in a relationship causing considerable pain or you may have recently left a bad relationship and the pain from it is lingering. There is tremendous hope for you in either case. You now have the opportunity to cease erratic behavior, work on yourself, and liberate yourself from one of the deepest and oldest causes of human suffering.
The first thing that you have to evaluate is whether or not you are or were in a truly toxic relationship. Just because you are riding through difficult times in a relationship does not mean that it’s toxic.
If you were in therapy you would likely ride through difficult times because emotions would be coming to the surface in your sessions. Being in a relationship is often like being in therapy. Relationships open us up and deliver us right into the heart of our childhood problems. They bring up our anxieties, our fears, our hurts, and our pains. They uncover our selfishness. They bring up our character defenses and they bring up our character defects as well. It’s difficult to deal with all of these things.
If you’re in a relationship in which problem behaviors are coming to the surface during interactions with your partner, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are in a toxic situation. In fact it might be just the opposite. You might be in the most healing environment possible, provided that you can put things into the right context and do the appropriate healing work with your partner.
A toxic relationship, on the other hand, is one that is abusive. The term “abusive” is subjective: It’s based on your threshold of what hurts and how much it hurts. Usually abusiveness comes in the form of a person saying things to you that can hurt your self-esteem for years to come. People may say such things to you with the intent of making you feel bad. Or they may say such things to you without such intent and can’t help themselves because they are unconscious.
We are all unconscious at some point, and we're on a journey to become conscious. Whether or not the person you love will make it to a state of consciousness is not for you or I to judge. But if you’re in a toxic relationship, you have to ask yourself a question: How long can you stay in a situation that is harmful and hurtful to your psyche?
Oftentimes when we are in a problem we are too close to it to see it in its proper perspective. We become too emotionally affected and too fearful to be able to see the truth. We need our friends, but having friends is not enough. We need an intelligent support group of neutral people. Sometimes your friends, even though they’re expressing their love for you, will give you counsel that isn’t appropriate.
Therapy, participation in support groups facilitated by knowledgeable people, meditation, contemplation, and honesty with yourself are the tools that you need to rely on during such difficult times.
Some relationships are worth saving even if there are difficulties within them. You may feel love for a person and know that that person feels love for you but be struggling with conflict that you can’t seem to resolve. As long as both parties are compassionate and respectful and are capable of not causing physical or emotional damage to one another, such a relationship may well be worth saving.
But you may be in a relationship in which your partner calls you names, blames you, and tries to control you. Perhaps your partner cannot control his or her temper. Your partner might be unfaithful. You might catch your partner lying to you. These are signs of an abusive relationship, and it may well be time to leave.
Sometimes it’s wise to leave in order to let a relationship have a reset if you plan to preserve it. A temporary separation for a period of time might facilitate individual healing. An abusive partner might face up to his or her behavior and become willing to heal and to change. But most of the time that’s unlikely.
An important thing to do when you’re either contemplating leaving a bad relationship or in extreme pain after having left one is to write, particularly through journaling. Talking and writing are two very potent tools to use in such situations.
If you feel stuck in the grieving process or can’t make a decision about staying in or leaving a relationship, it’s likely the case that you’re avoiding the realities of it. You might be too distracted or you might be caught up too much in addiction. And sometimes an obsession with solving something can prevent us from feeling. If we can’t feel, we can’t be free to heal.
There is no silver bullet when it comes to lessening the pain that we feel in a relationship at any given moment. But, again, writing and talking to others about the situation is tremendously helpful. Write about your situation and then read your writing to a trusted person. It will help you with your decision about whether to leave or to stay, or with the processing of your emotions regarding a relationship that has ended.
I highly recommend that you pray. Whether or not you have faith, praying is a very powerful tool. You have the options of talking to God, talking to the universe, or talking to your subconscious and your higher self.
You must get to the point of allowing yourself to feel the pain and the hurt, to cry and let the tears flow through the pain. Of course this is extremely difficult for the male of our species, and it seems sad that we were either engineered or conditioned in that way. I firmly believe that there would be a lot less distraction, warfare, murder, and mayhem if the males of our species had the ability to cry easily to help them deal with difficult emotions.
I wish you the very best of luck in dealing with your difficult relationship problems. As you work through them, be gentle with yourself. Breathe through your difficult thoughts to get to your difficult feelings. When you feel them, breathe through your feelings. They will move through you and they will pass. Even if they rise again, if you follow that practice they will pass each time. Eventually they will become less powerful and will no longer have control over you. And you will no longer have to hide from them.