Fuck, why are relationships complicated? And why is it even harder to let go of them when they become toxic or unhealthy?
A close friend of mine who is heterosexual and married is struggling with ending her relationship; a relationship, in my opinion, that was over a long time ago. Unfortunately, most men and women with children, have extra layers of difficulty when trying to say, “This is not working.”
More gay men are starting families and unfortunately may have to learn to navigate their way through divorce and ending relationships in a different way than they used to. Now that we are having kids of our own, we as gay men have to prepare ourselves for the inevitable. I believe in the fantasy of love but realize that when you are realistic with yourself, your partner, and the kids you are raising, relationships are complicated and sometimes don’t last forever.
Ending a relationship is often complex and we can find ourselves in a cycle of going back and forth. One day we think it’s over and then the next day we’re back on; and we sometimes get lost in this on-again, off-again cycle lasting days, weeks, or months. When this cycle goes on for years it can become even more challenging. Some of us grow and if both parties have put in the work to become a better vision of themselves and our understanding of the relationship dynamics, a new relationship with a previous partner could work.
However, I always tell my friends when they go back to a toxic relationship in a short period of time, my belief is that relationship will take the same form it did when it ended the last time. I believe the human experience and the relationships we develop are directly related to our parents, their relationships, and how they communicated with us as kids.
Divorce is a word I am familiar with and one I experienced at an earlier age. I watched my parents yell at the top of their lungs, throw things, and even use non-communication tactics to make their point. Without knowing it they were passing down that style of communicating to me.
In the past, I found myself behaving in the same way as my parents. I would begin to yell when I would express my feelings, and I never understood why. As we all know, once you start yelling at someone, the battle begins and the point you were trying to make is lost. The yelling person is then perceived as the emotionally insane person in the relationship. This is one way in which a potentially healthy relationship can turn into a toxic and unhealthy one. For those attempting to end a relationship, sometimes the first sign of loneliness takes them back; only to break up with that person again weeks later.
These are pathologies of relationships and what was passed down to us. Sometimes you challenge a friend’s thought process about a relationship and they try to convince you that it’s their thoughts and ideas leading them to stick with an unhealthy relationship. However, that’s untrue. Our thoughts, opinions, and feelings about relationships are a pathology passed to us from others.
But, we can break the mold! The pattern can be broken when you understand the various pathologies that exist within relationships especially when it comes time to end or being in one. It takes maturity and reflection to be willing to accept it and change it.
“The unpalatable truth is that falling in love is, in some ways, indistinguishable from a severe pathology. Behavior changes are reminiscent of psychosis and, biochemically speaking, passionate love closely imitates substance abuse.” Dr. John Marsden, the head of the British National Addiction Center, said that love is addictive, akin to cocaine and speed. Sex is a “booby trap,” intended to bind the partners long enough to bond.
Interestingly, as I was writing this article, I came across an article on Psychology Today by Sandra L. Brown, M.A. who clearly supports my personal ideas about relationships and why we stay in unhealthy relationships, pick the same guys, and are unable to end or leave a toxic/unhealthy relationship.
Here are a few highlights from the articles/videos worth sharing:
Real Love, Not Just Real Attraction
If you think back to what your “attraction basis” is, you may find some patterns there as well.
Fantasy and Its Effect on Your Reality
Pathology is the inability to change and sustain change, grow in any meaningful way, and the inability to see how behavior negatively affects others.
Happiness -VS- Joy Part II
Our happiness is largely conditionally based on if things go the way we think they should go and if people act the way we think they should act.
Relationship Relapse During the Holidays
People relapse and go back into relationships more often between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day than any other time of the year.
Whether you are in a healthy relationship is ending one or are merely trying to understand why you’re in a relationship with an individual, try to be more understanding that there may be pathologies at play that have been passed down to you or them. Having a better understanding of relationship pathologies allows you to develop healthy relationships and more easily end toxic ones.