Healthy Love vs Toxic Love: ‘The List’
Human beings are a lot less complicated than you might think . The great motivators for most people, are the desire for survival, sex and love, and power and money. There are other motivators too, like revenge, but usually when you find change, it’s being driven by one of these.
Introspection is the ability to look deep inside and examine your own feelings, thoughts and motives. It’s necessary for growth and change. Surprisingly, not everyone can do introspection. Many either lack the ability, or the desire.
When we don’t look inside at what drives us and others, you’ll feel a sense of disconnect and a separateness that makes us feel alone. Not being in touch with ourselves, can keep us stuck and in a state of denial.
For most of my life I didn’t do introspection. I walked around believing that I was a normal girl, from a normal family, doing normal things and I believed that in my relationships, I was the normal one, I just always seemed to pick the wrong men. I even remember throwing around the statement that, ‘You can’t stereotype people. Everyone’s different.’
I came to realize later on that a stereotype happens, because at it’s essence it’s a behavior that keeps repeating, so yes you can stereotype. As I learned more I came to believe that behavior patterns were just like physical symptoms for the mind. If you go to your family doctor and say I feel dizzy, have blurred vision and trouble speaking, he might say, ‘You’re having a stroke.’ Well the same can be said for mental and emotional conditions – they have symptoms, that manifest in our behaviors.
It’s usually not until a tragedy happens that we start to really question things and look for answers. It’s far too easy to get carried away and preoccupied with life. I could have spent decades with my Narcissist, just watching the years go by and continuing to lie to myself and everyone else. I was really unaware of what was wrong with me, until I was forced to see it and I came across something that made me start to question everything I thought I knew.
I had no idea what being emotionally healthy meant. I didn’t know what emotionally healthy even looked like. I certainly didn’t have any role models to follow. After my Narcissist left me I was so lost and such a mess, I started to believe that something was seriously wrong with me. I didn’t understand why I was so afraid and why I couldn’t just get over it. And what usually happens when we are desperate and lost? Something fell onto my lap – it was exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it.
It was a list that differentiated between healthy relationship behaviors and unhealthy relationship behaviors, compiled by the greatest minds in the co-dependency field at the time, and it was the first stepping stone of my recovery. I had no idea who these authors were, or how important they would become to me later on in my research, but when I stumbled across their list, I had such a shock or recognition, that it literally brought me to my knees. It was such a powerful moment and it changed me and the way I looked at relationships forever afterwards.
This list forced me to get really honest with myself, because as I read it dawned on me that I hit every single one of those toxic love components and none of the healthy love components. It was a huge eye opener and it scared me because I realized that I had nowhere else to go but inside.
I printed the list out and I posted it on my cork board and every time my relationships would cause me grief, I was able to look at it and see, how and when my behavior was off and when my partner’s behavior veered toward the unhealthy. It became my guidance system, my point of reference, that showed me when I was on track and when I was off track.
Unfortunately, after a few moves I lost the list. I found it unexpectedly this week, after years of searching and wanting to share it, in hopes that it’s as eye opening for you, as it was for me. Print it out and paste it to your fridge or your cork board.
The list was compiled by Melody Beatty author of Co-Dependence no more, addictions expert and author Terence Gorski, author of Dance of the Wounded Soul, Robert Burney and a few tweaks from me.
This list was so helpful to me, in so many ways and it started me on my path to healing. I hope it does the same for you.
|Love: Development of self first priority.||Toxic love: Obsession with relationship.|
|Love: Room to grow, expand; desire for other to grow.||Toxic love: Security, comfort in sameness; intensity of need seen as proof of love – may really be fear, insecurity, loneliness.|
|Love: Separate interests; other friends; maintain other meaningful relationships.||Toxic love: Total involvement; limited social life; neglect old friends, interests.|
|Love: Encouragement of each other’s expanding; secure in own worth.||Toxic love: Preoccupation with other’s behavior; fear of other changing.|
|Love: Appropriate Trust (trusting partner to behave according to fundamental nature.)||Toxic love: Jealousy; possessiveness; fear of competition; protects “supply.”|
|Love: Compromise, negotiation or taking turns at leading. Problem solving together.||Toxic love: Complete domination/submission or power plays for control; blaming; passive or aggressive manipulation.|
|Love: Embracing of each other’s individuality. Accepting other as they are.||Toxic love: Trying to change other to own image.|
|Love: Relationship deals with all aspects of reality.||Toxic love: Relationship is based on delusion and avoidance of the unpleasant.|
|Love: Self-care by both partners; emotional state not dependent on other’s mood.||Toxic love: Expectation that one partner will fix and rescue the other.|
|Love: Loving detachment (healthy concern about partner, while letting go.)||Toxic love: Fusion (being obsessed with each other’s problems and feelings.)|
|Love: Sex is free choice growing out of caring & friendship.||Toxic love: Pressure around sex due to fear, insecurity & need for immediate gratification.|
|Love: Ability to enjoy being alone.||Toxic love: Unable to endure separation; clinging.|
|Love: Cycle of comfort and contentment.||Toxic love: Cycle of pain and despair.|