Robin Norwood, in her book “Women Who Love Too Much”outlines a ten step plan for overcoming relationship addiction. While this book is directed toward women, its principles are equally valid for men. Stated here (reordered and sometimes paraphrased), Norwood suggests the following:
1- Make your “recovery” the first priority in your life.
2- Become “selfish,” i.e., focus on getting your own needs met more effectively.
3- Courageously face your own problems and shortcomings.
4- Cultivate whatever needs to be developed in yourself, i.e., fill in gaps that have made you feel undeserving or bad about yourself.
5- Learn to stop managing and controlling others; by being more focused on your own needs, you will no longer need to seek security by trying to make others change.
6- Develop your “spiritual” side, i.e., find out what brings you peace and serenity and commit some time, at least half an hour daily, to that endeavor.
7- Learn not to get “hooked” into the games of relationships; avoid dangerous roles you tend to fall into, e.g., “rescuer” (helper), “persecutor” (blamer), “victim” (helpless one).
8- Find a support group of friends who understand.
9- Share with others what you have experienced and learned.
10- Consider getting professional help.
When to Seek Professional Help
A- When you are very unhappy in a relationship but are unsure of whether you should accept it as it is, make further efforts to improve it, or get out of it.
B- When you have concluded that you should end a relationship, have tried to make yourself end it, but remain stuck.
C- When you suspect that you are staying in a relationship for the wrong reasons, such as feelings of guilt or fear of being alone, and you have been unable to overcome the paralyzing effects of such feelings.
D- When you recognize that you have a pattern of staying in bad relationships and that you have not been able to change that pattern by yourself.
Indifference and neglect
often do much more damage
than outright dislike.
There are several factors that can influence your decision to remain in a bad relationship. At the most superficial level are practical considerations such as financial entanglement, shared living quarters, potential impact on children, feared disapproval from others, and possible disruption in academic performance or career plans. At a deeper level are the beliefs you hold about relationships in general, about this specific relationship, and about yourself. These beliefs may take the form of learned societal messages such as “Love is forever,” “You are a failure if you end a relationship,” “Being alone is terrible,” and “You should never hurt anyone.” Also relevant are beliefs about yourself such as “I’ll never find anyone else,” “I’m not attractive or interesting enough,” or “If I work hard enough I should be able to save this relationship.” At the deepest level are unconscious feelings which can keep you stuck. These feelings develop early in childhood, often operate without your awareness, and can exert considerable influence on your life. Children need to be loved, nurtured, and encouraged in their independence. To the extent that parents are successful in doing this, their children will be able to feel secure as adults in moving in and out of relationships. To the extent that these needs are not met their children may be left feeling “needy” as adults and may thus be more vulnerable to dependent relationships. http://www.counselingcenter.illinois.edu/?page_id=186
To die and part is a less evil;
but to part and live, there,
there is the torment.
A bad relationship is one that involves continual frustration; the relationship seems to have potential but that potential is always just out of reach. In fact, the attachment in such relationships is to someone who is “unattainable” in the sense that he or she is committed to someone else, doesn’t want a committed relationship, or is incapable of one. Bad relationships are chronically lacking in what one or both partners need. Such relationships can destroy self-esteem and prevent those involved from moving on in their careers or personal lives. They are often fertile breeding grounds for loneliness, rage, and despair. In such relationships, individuals are robbed of several essential freedoms; the freedom to be their best selves in the relationship, the freedom to love the other person through choice rather than through dependency, and the freedom to leave a situation that is destructive. Despite the pain of these relationships, many rational and practical people find that they are unable to leave, even though they know the relationship is bad for them.
Signs you may be addicted to the relationship:
– Even though you know the relationship is bad for you (and perhaps others have told you this), you take no effective steps to end it.
– You give yourself reasons for staying in the relationship that are not really accurate or that are not strong enough to counteract the harmful aspects of the relationship.
– When you think about ending the relationship, you feel terrible anxiety and fear which make you cling to it even more.
– When you take steps to end the relationship, you suffer painful withdrawal symptoms, including physical discomfort, that is only relieved by reestablishing contact.
If most of these signs apply to you, you are probably in an addictive relationship and have lost the capacity to direct your own life. To move toward recovery, your first steps must be to recognize that you are “hooked” and then try to understand the basis of your addiction. http://www.counselingcenter.illinois.edu/?page_id=186
I was your cure
and you were my disease.
I was saving you,
and you were killing me.
We have all been there… found ourselves disoriented by some form of emotion. Sometimes it is a wave of sadness that crashes over us that seems to come from nowhere, yet sweeps us up nonetheless. Sometimes it is a rumbling storm of frustration and irritation that shakes and stirs us into an internal frenzy. Sometimes it is a longing so desperate that it haunts us. Sometimes it is our inner voice calling out for us to listen to what it has to say. Yes…we can all relate to these myriad emotions, and most unfortunately, we can also all relate to doing our very best to ignore and stuff them. Why not? Stuffing seems easier, right? The problem with stuffing and ignoring our feelings is that this prevents us from ever truly understanding and processing them. If we don’t know where the sadness comes from, how can we know that the wave won’t come in day after day…and how do we know we are not projecting our pain onto the wrong source? If we don’t address and name the disquiet in our spirit, how can we be freed from it? If we don’t embrace our fears and face them, won’t we by hiding forever? If we can imagine ourselves as having an emotional “inbox” it is likely that the damn thing would be stacked up to our eyeballs. Yet, if we can start processing the stuff that gets dropped in there daily by life and keep the inbox light, we will be able to handle the big assignments that come our way. It is OUR RESPONSIBILITY to manage our own emotions… don’t let them cost you more than you can afford or are willing to pay. Erin Williams http://erinwilliamscoaching.typepad.com/erin_williams_coaching_bl/2012/03/process-your-emotions-instead-of-stuffing-them.html
The more you hide your feelings,
the more they show.
The more you deny your feelings,
the more they grow.
Sharing too much of yourself invites pity, scorn, ridicule and a variety of other adverse reactions from others. Sharing too little of yourself keeps others in your life at a safe yet unhealthy distance. We are all in this life together doing the best we can with what we have at any given moment. Why not let more people into your inner circle of shared feelings. You might be surprised at their support, love and acceptance. Balanced self disclosure builds bridges with others. Too much or too little builds barriers. This is true just as much in business as it is in your personal relationships. There is no sin in crying in public, sharing your innermost fears with those you trust and respect and hugging those that cross your path. On my recent trip to Buenos Aires I couldn’t help but notice how everyone kisses everyone when they meet or before they depart. It is a shame that in many parts of the world kissing and hugging is seen as unnecessary or taboo. It only took me a few hours to get into the mood of all of this kissing, especially the women. Try it, it’s really fun. Tim Connor http://ezinearticles.com/?Are-You-Expressing-Your-Feelings-or-Stuffing-Them?&id=295208
Our feelings are
our most genuine paths
Generally speaking women live longer than men. One of the reasons is that they share their feelings more often. Men tend to stuff their feelings. This is a good practice to continue if you want an early grave. Women have more women friends because of it. Women have better relationships with their male friends because of it. What is self-disclosure? It is the willingness and ability to share your honest feelings, pain, grief, fears, frustrations and anything that if stuffed, will contribute to greater stress and less than satisfying relationships with others. Men were raised to be tough, competitive, to win and not to show emotional weakness. I have never considered sharing your true feelings a weakness, although there have been many times in my life when I have resisted for fear of rejection, embarrassment, and to be perceived as weak by others. I am learning that managed self disclosure builds bridges in relationships and more satisfying outcomes than sharing too little or too much. Tim Connor http://ezinearticles.com/?Are-You-Expressing-Your-Feelings-or-Stuffing-Them?&id=295208
People who have physical scars
hide them with clothing or a mask,
those with emotional scars
hide them with a smile or a laugh.
Five tips for overcoming your own passive-aggressive behaviors:
1- Become aware of the underlying feelings causing your behavior
2- Become aware of the impacts of your behavior and how your desire to defeat others, get back at them or annoy them creates yet further uncomfortable feelings for yourself
3- Take responsibility for your actions and reactions
4- Try to not feel attacked when faced with a problem but instead take an overall objective view of the situation
5- Learn to be assertive in expressing yourself. You have a right to your thoughts and feelings so communicate them with honesty and truth and strengthen your relationships
Five tips for coping with the passive-aggressive behavior of others:
1- Become aware of how passive aggression operates and try to be understanding towards your partner
2- Explain to your partner how their behavior towards you is affecting you. Communicate calmly without blaming – i.e. talk about how you feel and what you think without using language that will inflame the situation more. For example you might say “I feel upset by your behavior” rather than “you’ve done this or that”.
3- Be aware of your responses to others and yourself– do not blame yourself for the behavior and reaction of others
4- Be honest about your part in the situation
5- If the aggressive behavior of others continues to affect you in a negative way, set clear boundaries around yourself – rules for what you will and won’t accept. Stay strong and focused and get on with your life in a positive way.
Andrea Harrn, http://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/counsellor-articles/what-is-passive-aggressive-behaviour
If you are carrying strong feelings
about something that happened in your past,
they may hinder your ability to live in the present.