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Hurts So Good?

July 28, 2010 2 comments

So many of you write about the pain you feel when someone you’re attached to turns out to be emotionally unreliable. So why is it so hard to leave these types of relationships?

It seems that negative attractions can be more compelling than positive ones.  Traumatic bonding, a highly prevalent condition of human relationship, has an addictive biochemistry of its own.  Fear and pain are powerful reinforcers — powerful enough, in many cases, to turn even the strongest into Pavlov’s dogs, salivating for someone we know is no good for us.

The animal kingdom offers many examples of this.  For instance, when a researcher steps on the toe of a duckling, it follows him more closely than before.

The hazing ritual involved in joining a fraternity is based on this principle.  Pain and humiliation inflicted upon the pledges increase the loyalty in the fraternal bond.

So what are the signs that you are involved in negative attraction?

  • You lose emotional control over your life as your partner constantly violates the trust of your relationship.
  • You feel desperately needy because your partner has been withholding of love and unreliable.
  • Your partner hasn’t treated you with the respect you know you deserve, and yet you keep going back for more
  • You feel addicted to your partner though you know he or she is only bringing you down.

How to Cope

Each one of us has a bottom, and it’s up to us to realize when we’ve reached that bottom.  Then we have to take action to regain control of our lives.

An addictive relationship is a lot like alcoholism.  You can’t just have a little “sip” of your partner without wanting the whole relationship.  And yet your partner is not willing or able to give you that, so you spend your entire life craving something you can’t have.

If the relationship is really destructive and damaging your life, you will probably have to abstain to regain control.  Yes, that may mean breaking away from your relationship, finding closure, letting go, moving forward.  Friends can help, but if you’re still stuck, get professional counseling.

In a negative attraction, it’s the boundary between reason and emotion that becomes blurred.  Only you can put an end to the addictive pattern and create a healthy boundary.  Sometimes it takes grit. Be tough as nails and act according to your own better judgement.