Blog 1: Toxic love“Might as well face it. You’re addicted to love”
Blog 1: Toxic love
“Might as well face it. You’re addicted to love”
Have you ever been in a relationship where you were working harder than the other person? Did you feel like you were not getting your needs met? You just were not good enough? And then, did you hold onto hope that things would change despite the evidence?
Yes? You may be in a toxic relationship.
Today we are going to talk about toxic love and how using core mindfulness skills can help break the pattern.
Not all love looks the same. In a healthy loving relationship, love is supported and nurtured. Two people build a connection based on respect, trust, fairness and equality. There is room for growth, partnership, communication, independence and problem solving.
But both people have to work to make the bond healthy and sustainable.
In a toxic love relationship,the dynamic is different and unsettling. It’s often a cycle of abuse followed by control. Things aren’t shared…they follow laws: ‘This is how things are done.‘And one of you is usually doing all the work, taking all the blame. And then… often feeling unworthy. Your emotions are drained, you feel depleted and defeated. Problems are left unresolved. Communication becomes passive. ‘Sure. Whatever you say’gets to be the response. One or both partners may begin to stonewall, to avoid communication. One or both of you get/receive the silent treatment. Or you avoid sharing anything at all. The flip side is more aggressive. Tactics such as screaming, physical aggression, name-calling or “gas lighting” take place. Gas lightingis when someone manipulates another person with psychological means into questioning their own sanity.
What makes this pattern so toxic and addictive? In the midst of all the chaos, there are the “good times” or “bread crumbing”, as I call it. These are the moments or glimpses of hope where it feels like there is mutual respect from your partner. You feel compassion, nurturing. He or she is someone who meets your needs. Even if it’s not enough, anything is better than nothing, right? However, these times are few and far between. Like the pull of a slot machine, you become hooked at that partner’s side in hopes for that kind of return. This is called intermittent reinforcement.
ntermittent reinforcement is a tease.
You begin to lose yourself in the process of chasing that high, which leaves you as intoxicated and out of control as a person with a drug addiction.
How can you start to break out of this cycle? The first step is mindfulness and awareness. Staying in the present moment. Jon Kabat Zin describes mindfulness as “paying attention to something in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally”. Observe with your five senses how you feel around this person. Describe—without judgment— your sensations, emotions, thoughts and feelings. Allow yourself to sit with what is happening inside you. Participate in self-care to meet whatever needs are not being met from the relationship.
Self-care requires finding what it takes to meet the needs, yourneeds, for a healthy relationship. Do what is effective to keep yourself safe. As with any skill we want to master, whether it’s playing the piano, cooking, or building a healthy family, you have to take the time, every day, to practice learning about yourself, and applying what you learn to actions. For yourself.
If you are finding yourself in a toxic love relationship and would like break that cycle, then contact me Sherri Ardekani, MSW, LCSW at Best Self Counseling, LLC. Affiliated with Gateway Wellness Associates
Sherri Ardekani, MSW, LCSW
Best Self Counseling, LLC.
Gateway Wellness Associates