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Posts tagged ‘unhealthy relationships’

When Emotional Attachment Becomes Unhealthy

SOURCE:  JADE MAZARIN/Relevant Magazine

4 ways to let go when you are in a bad relationship.

I’ve had plenty of experiences in my life where I struggled with emotional attachment. Basically, I found my heart invested in someone and unable to let them go, even when I knew I couldn’t be with them. Maybe they weren’t interested, maybe we were no longer together, or maybe I knew that relationship wasn’t God’s plan for me. But regardless of what I knew mentally, I remained emotionally tied to that person.

It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that God called my attention to this tendency in a new way, and equipped me to tackle it head on. I started to understand reasons I stayed attached, even when I was never happy with it—and I got ideas to help me let go.

Why We Keep Holding On

Often, the first question we’re face when we’re attached is, “Why we can’t let go?” We know it’s unhealthy, and it stresses us out, so why can’t we move on? Basically it comes down to this: We’re not sure if we really want to.

Sure, we might feel tired with the situation. We might be mad at ourselves, embarrassed, ashamed and stressed. We can easily assume we want to let go and just can’t.

But the truth is, part of us doesn’t want to—even if we won’t admit it to ourselves.

Our inner self is in competition: Part of us recognizes the pain and the pointlessness of it, and another part of us continues to desperately hold on. That part of us usually clings to this person for multiple reasons: We think this person will meet our desires; we don’t believe we’re worth more; we figure that a little love is better than nothing. or we don’t believe God will bring something better.

We all know that famous verse, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). Each of the reasons we hold on to are beliefs that are not true. If these are the core reasons why we stay attached, then each one has to be examined in the light—their truths thoroughly absorbed—in order to no longer hold us down. Each one of these motives can be remedied only as we grasp the reality of the situation and accept it.

Here are some keys for letting go of unhealthy attachments:

1. See Things as They Are

This happens first and foremost by seeing the relationship as it really is. This means recognizing its limitations. It means willingly facing the truth.

Maya Angelou once said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” Sometimes we have blinders on to what’s in front of us. We may cling to the belief someone will change, or that the situation is better than it really is. When we’re attached, we have to consciously take off the rose-colored glasses every time we automatically put them back on.

Once we see clearly, we are invited to accept what we see, rather than trying to change it. We can relax our grasp, and rest from efforts that don’t work. We can choose to relinquish control, surrendering our need to make things different from what they are.

2. Realize What You Want Isn’t Here

While accepting things as they are, we have to tell ourselves that what we’re looking for isn’t found here.

We all want love. We also want peace and true joy. Those are our deepest desires. But in unhealthy emotional attachments, we are not at rest. We do not feel contentment and stability. The joy we have is flimsy and minimal—mixed with unpredictable anxiety or pain. Any love we experience is empty and practically cancelled out with the frustration we feel inside.

The idea that what we’re looking for isn’t found here is one we have to process internally. Only when we really, truly believe this attachment is only hurtful, will we no longer be interested in it.

3. Shift the Focus to Yourself

Attachment causes us to center our mental world around the person we are not meant to be with. Detaching involves making plans for our own life and asking ourselves honestly How am I doing? What can I do for myself? It means shifting out attention from what this person is or isn’t doing, how they may or may not feel, and putting it on yourself.

If you find you need healing, you need comfort, then you should put yourself in the place to get it. Ask yourself what freedom you need to start feeling better, and decide to move into it.

We also need to turn our attention to our potential, and how God sees us. Maybe we’ve been so worn down in thinking of the other person that we forgot how God values and cherishes us. It’s time to get that back.

God wants you to see His unconditional heart for you. He also wants you to treat yourself with the value He ascribed to you when He gave His life for you.

4. Truly Consider God’s Role

It’s important to remember we’re not alone in this. We’ve got a Father, literally right by our sides, who “gets” it—why we feel how we do, and what more there is for us. Not only is He by our side, He really is in control. It’s not arbitrary that we’re not with this person. We didn’t mess things up, nor did we miss His perfect will. He’s got a reason for the way things are.

Letting Go for Good

Fundamentally, letting go of attachment begins with a deliberate decision to do so. Every time you waver in that decision, remind yourself to do the above actions. You can also get around friends or family who will give you an objective view of the situation and help you think clearly.

You are not alone in this. Unhealthy attachment is one of the most common issues we have to face. The roller-coaster of emotions you experience is typical as well. On Monday, you might be fueled with anger and ready to let go, then Wednesday you sob with the desire to reach out to this person. Saturday you may call him or her, while Sunday you completely regret it.

That’s normal. And you won’t stay in that place. As time passes, these feelings will spread further out. The entire season is temporary. And you will in fact, get through it.

Celebrate every moment you feel a little freer, every action you take that focuses on your well-being. Let yourself cry if grief rises up within you. Just come back to remembering why you’re letting go in the first place. Recognize that while it feels awful now, it will truly get easier. And it’s OK when you fall back, as long as you decide to keep moving forward. Be kind to yourself. Be patient with yourself—just as God is.

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Characteristics of a Relationship Addict

SOURCE: Excerpted from the book by Steve Arterburn

Relationship addicts live in a world of paradoxes that leaves them feeling they have no way out. They desperately want to get close to someone, but end up with a person whose problems make closeness impossible. They seek security, but end up with someone who always leaves the back door open for a quick getaway.

Relationship addicts crave unconditional love, but live in constant fear of abandonment if they don’t live up to their own impossible standards. They want to be free to love, but often trap themselves in a relationship by becoming pregnant or by weaving some other type of emotional spiderweb. Drowning in the whirlpool of their own emotions, they turn to a rescuer who cannot swim.

Many common characteristics can be found in people who suffer from this form of addiction.

  • Experience early deprivation. Relationship addicts were often rejected or abandoned in childhood, and may well have been the victims of physical or psychological abuse.
  • Feel unloved or rejected by the world. Viewing life through the lens of their own painful experience, addicts assume that the world is just one big dysfunctional family.
  • Are insecure. Addicts are full of fear and doubt, overwhelmed by the stresses of daily living. The only way they see to survive is to attach themselves to someone else.
  • Attempt to earn love. Relationship addicts become perfectionists toward themselves, setting standards they can never hope to attain. They believe they have to be “good enough” to be loved by another.
  • Attempt to “fix” others. Relationship addicts try repeatedly to “fix” others, usually persons who do not want to be fixed. The drive to save someone causes the addict to hang onto a relationship long after others would have left.
  • Attract very needy people. Anyone with an obvious need or deficiency becomes a magnet: the needier they are, the less likely they will be to walk away. Also, the needier they are, the more likely they need fixing.
  • Attract abusive or emotionally distant people. Addicts are often attracted to people cut from the same mold as their own parents, often in an attempt to symbolically win the parents’ favor and love. By the same token, addicts are often uncomfortable around healthy people who might be strong enough to live without them.
  • Move quickly from attraction to attachment. Addicts “latch on” to someone with remarkable speed, in hopes of cementing a relationship.
  • Determine to keep the relationship going. It may be a disastrous and destructive relationship, but it seems better to addicts than no relationship at all. As long as it is still alive, there remains hope that it may improve.
  • Lack whole, healthy people in their lives. The roster of past relationships and acquaintances is filled almost exclusively with damaged and needy people, in contrast to whom the addict can appear healthy and normal.
  • Walk on eggshells. Relationship addicts are afraid of rocking the boat. They are excruciatingly cautious about everything they do in an effort to avoid the wrath of others.
  • Appear to be meeting others’ needs first. In fact, everything addicts do, even the things that look the most sacrificial, are done to meet their own need to be loved and needed. They appear unselfish, but are in fact willing to let another person spend a lifetime in distress if it guarantees their role as “fixer.”
  • Fail to recognize their own needs. Relationship addicts are unable to see the selfishness of their own motives. They may believe they need to be more assertive, when in fact what they need is to resolve their own selfish need to be needed.
  • Burst out in rage. Relationship addicts try to keep their anger bottled up, but they cannot do so forever. Sooner or later their pent-up anger explodes. Such outbursts are followed by periods of deep remorse and attempts to make things right again—to forestall the dreaded abandonment.
  • Never ask for help. Rather than seek help, addicts prefer to battle their problems alone. They cannot risk being found out, which allows someone else to discern the true nature and extent of their problems.
  • Feel uncomfortable if others do things for them. This only causes the addict more guilt and greater fear of not “measuring up.”
  • Do not have hope of ever finding a truly loving relationship. Early childhood experience has convinced them that it will never happen.
  • Possess inordinate patience. Addicts astonish their friends by their ability to “hang in” for years without the faintest glimmer of hope for change in their destructive relationship.
  • Are euphoric at the start of any new relationship. Relationship addicts constantly assure themselves and others that this time is going to be different. Overblown hopes and expectations are attached to each new prospect.
  • Feel responsible for all problems. Addicts assess everything that happens in terms of their own efforts. If anything goes wrong, it must have been their fault.
  • Defend against everything. Addicts place so much performance pressure on themselves that they are resentful of perceived attempts to add more.
  • Feel inadequate. Relationship addicts never look right, weigh the right amount or say the right things. They find it impossible to live up to their own expectations.
  • Alienate themselves from others. Addicts feel like outcasts—as if everyone else but them has been given the manual on how to make human life work.
  • Crave affirmation. Addicts draw what little self-esteem they have from the sense that they are trying hard and doing a good job. They feast on others’ comments about how loyal and patient they are.
  • Despise sex. Sex is only a means to an end, not a source of joy and pleasure in its own right. It is to be endured, never enjoyed, if that is the price to maintain the relationship.
  • Exert control. Addicts will seek out needy people whom they are able to manipulate and dominate. They may appear to be subservient to a domineering spouse. In reality, however, it is they who have the upper hand.
  • Search for happiness. Relationship addicts are martyrs. They so accustom themselves to the apparently hopeless pursuit of happiness that they actually resist finding it.
  • Manipulate. Addicts will invest extraordinary amounts of time and energy determining what patterns of behavior will produce the desired effects in other people. They learn how to elicit attention, how to elicit affection and even how to elicit anger.
  • Are frequently depressed. Because of their past rejection and abandonment, relationship addicts have few emotional resources to draw on in times of stress. Instead, they simply shut down.
  • Express multiple compulsive behaviors. The emotional turmoil that accompanies relationship addiction cannot lie dormant. Frequently, it finds expression in other problems such as compulsive overeating, spending or gambling. These compulsive behavior patterns become increasingly intertwined.
  • Doubt. Relationship addicts are plagued by insecurity and are never sure of themselves. They constantly vacillate in even the most routine decisions.
  • See themselves and others as victims. If their partner is a sex addict, it is because others have deviously seduced their partner. If their partner is an alcoholic, it is because of the stress others have placed him or her under.
  • Compensate. Relationship addicts try to compensate for what they did not have as a child by manipulating others to get what they want. They compensate for weakness by acting strong. They compensate for selfishness by creating the appearance of selflessness.
  • Mind read. Since the way to find acceptance is to please others and meet their expectations, addicts engage in a never-ending mind game: What does someone else really want? To come right out and ask would be to tip their hand.
  • Get angry over unmet needs. Addicts never express their own needs. Indeed, they may be largely unaware of them, but they go through life with a vague sense of being “ripped off.”

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Arterburn, S. (2004). When you love too much: walking the road to healthy intimacy. Ventura, CA: Regal Books.

Why Smart People Accept Unacceptable Behavior

SOURCE:  Dr. John Townsend/Beyond Boundaries

When I (Dr. Townsend) guide people through a process of examining a previous difficult relationship, the one question I have found most helpful is this: What was the “payoff” in your choice? In other words, what good things did you think you’d get when you began a relationship with that person?

We wind up with difficult people for a reason—there was something we valued, wanted, or hoped for. And because the need was strong, we may not have paid attention to something unacceptable in that person’s character. We either minimized or denied some sign, some reality, some warning light that all was not well. And the character problem ended up being a bigger deal than we thought.

When smart people accept unacceptable relationships, they tend to see traits and abilities in others that they think will make life better for them. We see positive aspects of a person’s psyche that we are drawn to or feel we need. A longing for them dulls an awareness of that person’s darker side.

Here are a few examples. For some period of time in the relationship, the person had the following:

  • Warmth: She was gentle and nurturing with me
  • Affirmation: He saw the good in me
  • Safety: He did not condemn or judge me
  • Structure: She was organized and got things done
  • Humor: She helped lighten the burdens and cheered me up
  • A great family: His relatives were much healthier than mine
  • Drive: She was focused and knew where she was going
  • Initiative: She took risks and was brave in making decisions
  • Competency: He was talented, and I needed his talent in my organization
  • People skills: He handled people better than I did, so I depended on him
  • Intelligence: She was smart, and I needed smarts in my department

In the toughest cases, the trait is simply that “he liked me.” That is, sometimes people feel so alone and desperate that they are grateful just for someone to be pursuing them, no matter what that person’s character may be.

We have an ability to spin the truth when it comes to our relationships. When we want something so badly that we ignore reality. Love is not blind, but desire can be. Here are some examples of how we spin the truth:

  • You allowed him to control you because you were weak and afraid.
  • You ignored detachment and disconnection because she was a nice person.
  • You minimized irresponsibility because she had a great personality and charm.
  • You put up with his tendency to divide people on the team because he was a good strategist.
  • You didn’t pay attention to childishness because she was needy, and you felt protective.
  • You let him into your life because you were compliant and guilt-based, and he was free and a rebel.

Do you see how the problem occurs? It is an insidious process. It tends to occur slowly over time. The good aspects are generally apparent and right out there. The bad ones don’t come out until later, when the euphoria wears off and the honeymoon is over. We are simply not aware of the repercussions while we are in the middle of the relationship. Instead, we are focused on solving problems, improving things, questioning our own judgment, and trying to be positive about it all. It’s not until later, after we have some distance, that we can gain clarity and perspective on the true dynamics of what went on.

Here are a few questions to help you review your relationships and gain some helpful insights:

  • What drew me to this person?
  • What led me to think this person had what I needed?
  • When did I first notice a significant problem in the relationship?
  • How did I minimize the problem in order to get the good from the person?
  • What was the result of minimizing the problem?

The information you gather here will help you avoid these issues in future relationships. This doesn’t mean that the other person has some plan or agenda to hook you in. This occurs sometimes, but certainly not always. In most cases, difficult people are responding to their own issues but remain unaware of them or the impact they have on others. I say this to prevent you from feeling like you were sucked into a trap. Most of the time, both parties are in a dysfunctional dance, and neither one knows what’s going on. The difference now is that you can choose to stop dancing so that your future will be better than your past!

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Beyond Boundaries_sm

 

The give and take of healthy relationships

SOURCE:  Taken from an article by Leslie Vernick

I want to talk about the importance of reciprocity in maintaining healthy adult relationships.

Reciprocity means that both people in the relationship give and both people in the relationship receive. Power and responsibility for the care and maintenance of the relationship are shared, and there is not a double standard where one person receives the goodies of the relationship while the other person does most of the work.

There may be seasons where one person gives much more than the other due to illness, incapacity or other problems, but when both individuals in the relationship are capable, reciprocity means that both individuals are givers and both individuals are receivers.

For example, John and Mary constantly argued about their budget. Mary required John to be accountable for every penny he spent, yet Mary did not hold herself to that same standard. She always had an excuse as to why her spending was more justified than John’s. John agreed that Mary was a better money manager than he was yet there was something fundamentally imbalanced in their marriage. Over time, he began to feel resentful and started acting out like a rebellious teenager, taking money out of the ATM without telling Mary. That caused more conflict between them.

John wanted some decision making power as to how they managed their money. He wanted to be a part of a “we” decision regarding their finances instead of feeling like a child being given an allowance. In order to rebalance their marriage, Mary would need to share the decision making with John instead of informing him of her decisions.

In another example, Amber felt frustrated with herself for always saying “yes” when she wanted to say “no”. She lacked the freedom to say no in her relationships because she feared that if she said “no”, people wouldn’t like her or she would lose their friendship. But as she began to evaluate her relationships, she realized that most of her friendships were very lopsided, with her being the giver and her friends being the takers. It didn’t surprise her that she felt afraid that if she stopped being such a generous giver, she might lose some of her friends. Yet she was tired of having friends who gladly took from her yet never gave anything back.

Amber realized that if she wanted to have healthier relationships with these people, she would need to start speaking up about her own needs and feelings in the hopes of rebalancing their relationship.

9 Surefire Ways to Sabotage Your Relationship

SOURCE:  Kim Blackham

Have you ever wondered what the most effective way to ruin a relationship would be?  Below are 9 simple and surefire ways to sabotage yours.

  • Criticize your partner, point out all his or her flaws, and demand that he or she fix them. This kind of interaction will certainly help things fall apart quickly.  The meaner and more cutting your tone, the better.  And don’t forget facial expressions.  Make sure they are condescending and clearly communicate your disapproval. 
  • Ignore your partner, shut him or her out, appear emotionless and totally unresponsive.  If you really want to get the fights going and increase the fear and panic in your partner, this is the way to go.  Talk logically and reasonably, and make sure to stick to the facts.  Facts really don’t matter in relationships as much as the connection, so if you stick to the facts, you are sure to back the relationship into a corner to where it can begin to deteriorate.
  • Involve as many other people as possible – friends, family, church members, co-workers, etc.  The more you can talk negatively about your partner, the more damage you can inflict.  As soon as everyone around you starts forming an opinion – based only on your side of the story of course, the more you can feel justified in your negative emotions and eventual decision to end the relationship.

To read the full article:  go to this link:  http://www.kimblackham.com/9-surefire-ways-sabotage-relationship/

8 Things Healthy Couples DON’T Do

SOURCE:  Ruthie Dean/Relevant Magazine

Last week, I saw a woman slam the car door in her husband’s face and storm off inside the grocery store. Then there was the couple sitting next to me, the man staring at his phone the entire time his wife shared with him her concerns about one of their children. I saw someone post a rant on Facebook about their spouse that ended with, “MEN!”

Relationships are hard, and we’ve probably all done something similar to the examples above. But that doesn’t excuse the cavalier mistakes we sometimes allow for in our romantic relationships. Dating and especially marriage relationships can be tools for showing Christ’s love—to the other person and to those around you. Too often, we take our spouses for granted and forget that good relationships don’t just happen. They take work.

It’s often harder to see the good relationships, because they aren’t out slamming doors and stomping around and airing grievances on social media.

Here are eight things healthy couples don’t do:

1. Post Negatively About Each Other on Social Media

12-year-olds post negatively about their boyfriends or girlfriends on social media. It’s a catty way to get attention and vent, when the emotionally healthy response is to talk your grievances over with your spouse when the time is right. Don’t fall into the trap of getting others on your side, on social media or otherwise, because healthy marriages only have one side.

 2. Make Their Career a Priority Rather Than Their Relationship

Yes, career is important. But as you are being pulled in every direction imaginable, something will get less attention, less time. Something in your life will have to be sacrificed. Your goal is to make sure that “something” isn’t your relationship. You can always find another job, but you only have one chance to make it work with the love of your life.

3. Have All Their ‘Together-Time’ With Technology

Of course there will be plenty of times that you’re together and using technology, but healthy couples know how to put down their phones and computers and turn off the TV to spend quality time together. Healthy couples don’t check Twitter on dinner dates. My husband and I have a rule that we put our phones upstairs each night after work so our dinner or together-time is not interrupted.

4. Avoid Hard Subjects

Relationships are about intimacy. If you can’t talk about the hard subjects, then your intimacy factor is off. There are seasons of marriage that are easy, and other seasons where you must make difficult decisions together. Nothing should be off-limits between the two of you, and conversations should always be approached with an abundance of grace and kindness.

5. Punish One Another

Punishing one another often comes out in the silent treatment or withholding sex or affection. Healthy couples know when it’s good to take a break from a disagreement, but also know how to come back together and find a resolution.

6. Withhold Forgiveness

Relationships run on forgiveness. You can’t have a healthy relationship without abundant forgiveness. The best relationships forgive quickly and frequently. Living with another person will always bring conflict and hurt feelings; the trick is knowing how to handle it. Forgive, and ask for forgiveness.

7. Say ‘Yes’ to Everything

Healthy couples have good boundaries—with family, with friends and with each other. If I’ve had a long week at work and my husband asks me to rally and go out with friends on Friday, whose fault is it if I get mad at him on the way home because I didn’t want to go in the first place? Mine. Healthy couples know their limits, know how to ask for help, and understand that “no” is a complete sentence.

8. Throw In the Towel

Healthy couples don’t give up when things are hard, even when things are really hard. If your spouse is important to you, you can get through this. Quitting is never an option for healthy couples.

Stuck in Relationships

SOURCE:  Paul Tripp

I’ve spent thousands of hours in counseling sessions with people who are stuck in relationships. It wasn’t always a husband and wife in a marriage gone bad; any two people in any type of relationship can find themselves stuck.

Are you in a relationship that has lost its passion? I’m not just talking about marital romance. A parent and child who once adored each other can now live in hostile tension. Two siblings who loved each other growing up can now be separated by anger. Co-workers or neighbors who used to get along so easily can now find it hard to have an argument-free conversation.

I would assume that everyone reading this Article can identify at least one relationship that isn’t as joyful as it could be. But, if you have a good history with relationships, don’t skip over this material. God can use you as an instrument of reconciliation between others.

To begin, let’s look at 10 typical signs of a relationship gone bad:

  1. Do you struggle to be intimate with the other person? (Don’t just apply this to the sexual life of a husband and wife; intimacy can be defined as “closeness”)
  2. Do you struggle – or are you afraid – to talk about important subjects with the other person?
  3. Do you use words as weapons to hurt and tear down instead of using words to build up and give grace? (Ephesians 4:29)
  4. Do you spend more time criticizing the behavior of the other person than you do reflecting on the motives of your own heart?
  5. Do you continually struggle to solve problems and resolve conflict?
  6. Do you ever wish – even just for a moment – that you had never met (or had) the other person in the relationship?
  7. Do you struggle to serve the other person, or, have you lost the joy you once had in serving that person?
  8. Do you find yourself angrily replaying the conversations and interactions you had with the other person?
  9. Do you try to make yourself busy so you don’t have to interact with the other person? (In other words, do you look for excuses that allow you to avoid them)
  10. As a whole, would you say that the quality of your relationship is worse now than it was ____ months/years ago?

SIX STEPS

Every relationship is going to experience conflict. After all, you – a sinner – are living with other sinners in a fallen world. It’s bound to be messy!

So, I want to introduce you to a 6-step biblical process for changing a relationship. Before I tell you the steps, you need to know three things about this process:

  1. The order of these steps is crucial to the process of change
  2. Don’t move on to the next step until the current work is complete
  3. Change is a process, not an event. This process could take months – even years. Don’t rush it.

Here we go:

1. Confession & Forgiveness

If change is ever going to take place, it has to begin with an honest confession of wrongs done, followed by an honest and humble granting of forgiveness. If you’re refusing to admit you wronged the other person, and/or refusing to let their wrongs go, you won’t get unstuck.

2. Trusting & Entrusting

Now that the past has been dealt with, we need to deal with the present. You need to do everything you can to become a trustworthy person. And then, you need to be willing to be vulnerable. Entrust yourself to the other person, knowing that they’re still imperfect people.

3. Uprooting & Planting

This is a very concrete step: what specific things do you need to get rid of in your relationship that interfere, and what do you need to replace them with? Don’t just work on your schedule and activities; be specific about words and actions and responses.

4. Love Your Neighbor As Yourself

This is a broad Biblical theme, but you need to make it specific. Who is this person in your relationship, and what do they struggle with? How can you specifically show love to their specific needs and desires?

5. Deal With Sin

I said earlier that change doesn’t happen overnight, so you need to determine what you’re going to do when the other person sins. How you do this is up to you, but you need to give the other person the right to say, “Hold on, what you just did or said was wrong – let’s talk about it.”

6. Watch & Pray

Even when significant change has taken place, you still need to guard your relationship. You’re in a war zone, fighting your own sin and the temptation of the outside world. Watch over your behavior and pray for the grace of God to give you eyes that see yourself with accuracy.

There is help and hope for you in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. One day, your relationships will be completely free from conflict and strife, but the Bible gives you practical steps for change, right here, right now.

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