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Are you addicted to toxic relationships?

22 May 2014, 18:05

Abuja - Two of my friends are in long term relationships, both are experiencing different issues yet both admit they have not learned from the past and its “history repeating itself”

What is it about relationships?

Sometimes it brings us pain and other times peace. It mystifies us, captivates us and yet has the ability to destroy us.

Whether it’s your first relationship or your tenth, do we ever learn from it?

I am definitely no relationship expert, but experience and taking responsibility has made me wiser. Each person is always an outsider to the experience of the other.

The best barometer for any relationship whether it’s a long term relationship, a friendship or a family connection - what is it asking of you, what value is it adding to your life, how does it make you feel as a person?

Is this relationship so special and unique, that we delude ourselves into believing we won’t be hurt again? Have you found that intrinsic element which has evaded you and that prevents you from recognizing past mistakes.

When it comes to relationships, do we automatically learn from experience? Or do we give this person the benefit of doubt, forget past disappointments/failures and go in head first?

We don’t want to paint with the same old brush and maybe it’s time to let go of the paintbrush completely? Shouldn’t we take responsibility at some point for our past and not allow it to creep into new relationships?

Blinded by 'love'

Relationships tend to deflect us, we get so caught up in it that we forget it’s a two party event. We get so absorbed that we don’t realise that we dance on a morally slippery slope, thinking all the issues rest with our partners.

We assume the bond we share with a person or people will uniquely defy the laws of gravity. We go big or we go home.

For me personally, I never learn, I give all of me, my trust, and my time. Holding back is not my style, I just believe some relationships are “apples,” and others are “oranges”: you can’t compare the two. Yes! I get hurt and I learn, but it’s also unfair to constantly use other people as measurements for the new person in your life.

Relationships have loopholes, an ellipsis waiting to engulf us at the first hint of unhappiness. We put our partners under the microscope and critically highlight their character flaws and personality issues. We focus so hard that we lose sight of the relationship itself. We never seem to reflect on our shiny self. We allow external factors to pull us apart.

Passive couples are in denial

One thing I do know, there is no road map for assessing ourselves, others and relationships. We as humans are too narcissistic to admit that we play and integral role in the success or failure of any relationship we enter into.

Conflict is an inevitable part of relationships, it all depends on the type of person you are and how you deal with it. We are deeply social creatures, so when conflict arises we either go into defence mode or become Terminators, in this mode we can destroy everything in their path and regret it later.

Some people handle conflict by completely shutting down because conflict confuses them. Different people handle conflict in different ways. Experts say conflict is healthy; I think it all depends on parties, their maturity, their character and how they resolve issues.
People who tell me they go into a relationship without any expectation, are in denial. Every one of us has some kind of expectation.

Real vs Imagined expectations

We all want to be loved, or accepted for who we are or, not to be changed. And that in itself is an expectation. Then you get those who have unrealistic expectations.

We bail out of relationships, not because of the toilet seat being constantly left up or his snoring, or her nagging; but because the other person's expectations, whether little or great, were not met.

Letting go of the past

We all have those demons of being disappointed or let down before. We need to deal with them before we embark on forging new relationships; or else we could miss out on something wonderful. If we don’t take responsibility for our part in a relationship, how can we ever evolve into someone who has dealt and made peace with their past.

We all have that secret self and we need to share this part of us in order to build a stronger bond. When we build bonds, we need to replace the image in our heads of what a perfect bond should be like and start building it piece by piece, like a jigsaw puzzle, not like a computer with the flick of a switch.

We all have vulnerabilities in life; we have experienced failures from a family relationship, to a friendship or perhaps a marriage ending. Yet we all long for comfort, for a bond for companionship, so we rush in.

Words of advice

If you are in a serious “love” relationship, just remember that you and your partner come from different families, raised as members of different genders, indoctrinated with different set of roles and rules, and this is why you are attracted to this other person, because he or she is different.

You discuss things and compare perspectives, and thus come to know one another and oneself. We all want a relationship that has energy, we want our different spheres to come together, and we invest a lot of ourselves in these relationships.

The key to relationships is to be less selfish. We also need to realise that we can't cut off history however, we cannot go through life looking in the rear-view mirror.

I was glancing through a book on relationships and its dynamics, the biggest reasons for failure of relationships is failure to take responsibility, not willing to compromise, selfishness and not saying how you feel.

The dynamics of relationships are fascinating, we learn every day, relationships illuminate the divergent needs and loyalties that are always present but often invisible to each other.
With so much vulnerability in relationships we need to support each other and we need to constantly as ourselves how important is this relationship to you, and then put measures in place to protect it.

I take stock of myself often, the worry of failure makes me fragile, and so I try regularly to keep myself in check. My close friends and family know a lot, they know who I am. The trick is to listen to them.

- Women24

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