May 14, 2010

I remember a particular conversation I had with a boyfriend of two years during the second week of our relationship. He was unhappy because I turned down his invitation one night to attend my weekly card game. I remember saying to myself: there is something wrong with this guy. In fact, there was something wrong with me too because I stayed with him for two years and moved halfway around the world to be with him. It took me eight years to get back to where I should have been had I been able to resist him initially. Almost ten years on I am still feeling the impact of that gross error of judgement. In retrospect, the red flags were there. I just chose to ignore them.

In these sorts of situations some sick need is being met by the overbearing lover. The question is, will you take notice before it’s too late and the personal cost skyrockets? Most people turn a blind eye to the signs for a variety of reasons, but mainly because they have a hard time identifying their own feelings. Once they are drawn in, it takes a long time to get out, because it’s never easy to see one is compromising oneself just to avoid a conflict and being alone.

The sad truth is friends care, hours are spent gossiping on the subject, but rarely does anyone actually say the right thing. Granted, getting involved in another person’s private life is tricky. Taking any sort of position is usually inadvisable. Few people want to risk losing the friendship. So what are friends and family for if not to tell us when we are making immensely taxing life-altering decisions? One would think those who love us most have our best interests at heart. One would also think that they will see for us when we cannot see ourselves. Of course they do, but do we listen?

“People like to play house and pretend they are in love, even when they bring out the worst in each other. In reality, this kind of relationship is anything but loving, it is deeply tied to an illusion.”

Several years ago I watched my brother marry a woman we all knew he would be unable to stay married to. The break-up was hard. Living it was probably harder, especially for their kids. Children are never a mistake, but witnessing a whole family suffer is a very painful experience, especially when it could have been avoided. I detach from my feelings on the subject, most of the time, but whenever I see my niece and nephew my heart breaks for them. I feel very strongly that young children should have a close to perfect upbringing.

Currently, a dear friend is in a relationship with the wrong person. Everybody seems to see it but the two people involved. I find it very hard to standby because I know the story all too well. Knowing someone is lost in an unhealthy partnership when they are in their mid-thirties, and likely to marry and have children, puts one in a delicate position. Keeping quiet is complying with something that is infelicitous. Of course how others choose to lead their lives is to a certain extent, none of my business. But isn”€™t it my duty to help a friend in need regardless of whether or not they realize they are in a damaging situation?

When I got caught up in the bad relationship, I was 25. My friend is 35. Apart from that, the similarities are astounding. One spouse is divisive, jealous, and controlling. To counter the jealousy and the inevitable drama that ensues every time the jealous lover is not the center of attention, the partner bends backwards and forwards to try and avoid a conflict. After an attempt to alter the behavior of everybody but that of the jealous person, the episode happens anyway. This is the pattern, it goes on and on and on until one realizes one is with the wrong person and that no matter what one does, the jealous lover will always be threatened.

The longer one stays, the more one loses oneself, and the harder it is to leave. People like to play house and pretend they are in love, even when they bring out the worst in each other. In reality, this kind of relationship is anything but loving, it is deeply tied to an illusion. Damaged, co-dependent people work this m.o. The red flags get ignored out of naiveté, loneliness, and habit. To get beyond such a situation requires courage, and a strong desire to correct the past. Sadly, we are not all so tough. The kicker is we are often far more forgiving of our lovers than we are of our friends, despite the fact that this rarely works to our advantage.


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