He Loves Me, She Loves Me Not: Interpreting Dysfunctional Relationship Behavior
There is conflicting science on whether or not happy memories are easier to recall than sad ones. Ask anyone who’s trying to get over a Narcissist and they’ll tell you they wish they could hang on to the bad, but always seem to recall the good.
We know that trauma bonds deepen the connection between abuser and victim. We know that early programming fools us into believing that intensity is the same thing as intimacy. We also know that codependency confuses us, it creates doubt, shame and guilt and its objective is to keep us where we are.
With all of these things working against us, it’s no wonder trying to break free from a Narcissist seems so difficult. These things seem so implausible that most of us, trying to get over the relationship, find our well-meaning support teams uttering things like, “Why can’t you just get over it.” And they get tired of hearing us talk about it, mope around and often relapse.
They watch us go in and out of relationships that are so obviously dysfunctional to everyone else around us. They get frustrated by our inability to distinguish reality from fiction. But mostly they get tired of watching us harm ourselves by ignoring obvious signs.
I get a lot of people asking me to make sense of their partner’s behavior. They’ll list tons of great things, followed by tons of terrible relationship crimes and they have so much trouble trying to interpret the signs. The truth is trying to discern someone’s real intention is a lot more simple than you might think.
They Love Me. They Love Me Not
If you can’t depend on them for anything, you’re not in a healthy relationship: If certain events come up, or typical things that would require the participation of a significant other and you already know you need not even ask your partner, this is huge sign that you’re not in a real relationship. No amount of post coitus cuddling and promises makes up for them choosing to not participate in your life.
If they treat you great one minute and then ignore you the next, you’re not a healthy relationship: You shouldn’t have to second guess where you stand in your relationship. If you’re getting mixed signals it means that your significant other isn’t committed to the relationship. Get out and don’t put yourself through the strain of having to figure out whether he/she are in or out. Relationships shouldn’t be something that requires guess work.
If they actively flirt or seek out other people while in your presence, you’re not in a healthy relationship: If your partner does that in front of you I’d hate to see what they do behind your back. Not only is it incredibly disrespectful it also shows attention seeking behavior and believe me, you want no part of that. The damage that does to your self-esteem isn’t worth any price.
If they don’t treat you like a priority, you’re not in a healthy relationship: If you constantly feel like you’re not important to the one you love, you need to get yourself together and exit the relationship. There are few things worse than unrequited love and if you stay hoping to change their minds you’re just setting yourself up to fail. If you ever want to change someone’s opinion about you, start with changing your opinion about yourself and walk away from anything that doesn’t lift you, or make you better.
If they don’t introduce you to their family and friends after a certain amount of time, it isn’t a healthy relationship: If you’ve been dating for months and you haven’t met their family or friends there’s a problem. It could mean they’re married, or in a serious relationship. It could mean that they’re serial dating or that they don’t have honorable intentions. It is healthy to wait until serious about someone before integrating them into your life, especially if you have children, but if you’re already sleeping together, you’re spending days living at each other’s place and months have gone by, I’d say, if it walks like a relationship and it talks like a relationship – it’s a relationship and I’d expect to be treated like I’m in a relationship. If your significant other is holding back I’d demand to know why.
If you want one thing and they want something else, it isn’t a healthy relationship: If you’re sticking around hoping he/she will change their mind and realize you’re the one, give your head a shake and get the hell out. I have a simple rule about change – either I accept things as they are or I leave. Change is hard in the best of times and when you’re hoping to change the way someone feels about you, and you think the best way to do that is by sticking around accepting the status quo you’re greatly mistaken. If someone isn’t sure how they feel about you, make their choice simple. Walk away.
If they show needy, jealous behaviors you’re not in a healthy relationship: The healthiest relationships I’ve ever seen consist of two people who have lives inside and outside of their relationships and who encourage the other to grow and be better. If your partner is extremely insecure and makes you feel guilty about wanting to spend time with friends and family, you’ve got a problem. If they need to stifle your growth for their own comfort level, you need to really pay attention to what’s happening in your relationship. It’s a clear sign that your partner is only interested in their own wants and needs and is not interested in your happiness. Never dim your light to make others happy.
If you stick around because you think you can’t do any better, you’re not in a real relationship: I can’t tell you how many of my clients list all these amazing things about their partner. Things like, “He is model gorgeous, his family has money, he’s got a really prestigious job, he’s famous, he’s in politics, she’s an actress, or a doctor …. Yeah I get it, they have some things going for them. Great. It’s too bad they treated you like shit. When you stick around because they have one or two special things about them, you are putting a price on your self-esteem. The fact that they have money isn’t more important than the way they treat you. if you think that the few perks you receive once in a while is more important than the way they treat you, then your priorities are all screwed up. If Irina Shayk can walk away from wealthy, gorgeous, famous and talented Cristiano Ronaldo, you can walk away too.
If you are wondering more times than not, whether or not your partner wants to be with you, you have to come back down to reality. In healthy relationships you don’t have to wonder or guess what your significant other is thinking or feeling about you, because they are telling you and showing you that you are a priority – consistently. If someone is ok with hurting you or making you feel uneasy, then they are not for you. You don’t need a scale to balance out the good vs the bad. You don’t need to be a detective to put all the pieces together. This is really simple stuff. Either they treat you consistently with love, kindness and respect and there is a balanced reciprocity, or their isn’t. It doesn’t matter if they’re gorgeous, rich or famous – whatever you think you will gain from their attributes pales in comparison to what you will lose by sticking around and allowing them to keep kicking you. Do right by you. Practice self-care and take care of you first.
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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net