Ever loved someone to the point you would do most anything for them? Ever loved someone undeniably, irrationally, unconditionally? Did you ever think they could hurt you? No. Probably not. He is perfect most of the time, a ray of sunshine; charming, charismatic, kind, sensitive, receptive… he is your rock. Of course he would never hurt you. So what happens if one day… he just did? It was unwarranted, irrational and…impossible. Impossible? Really? Maybe it was your brother, or your dad… and now I hear you spit with utter contempt – impossible. No. Sure I get it – impossible, it was impossible in your mind and yet it happened. So what do you do? You walk, you say that’s it, over, c’est fini. That’s what you say, but how could you do it? He was everything to you…he was your family, he was your whole life…are you really going to throw a whole lifetime of happiness away over something that was, in the first place… impossible?
An abusive relationship never starts abusive. It starts as perfection. An endless honeymoon effused with invariable ingratiation, fulfillment, happiness.
Maybe it started from birth, a whole lifetime of affection and solidity. Thousands of women (and men it has to be said) experience this. This undying love that is all too apparent at the start of the relationship, too apparent to be true, and all too often, that’s just it – it is. Abuse happens very slowly, very subtly and it can happen to anyone. In reality when anyone is faced with that dilemma – where you thought it was just impossible, it becomes impossible to accept it ever happened… that time, and the next time, and the next. You may just start to consider your denial is rooted in something a little bit deeper than you were initially willing to accept… a dependency has grown… an addiction.
Love addiction is an actual ailment, rooted in fear and an extreme emotional dependence, an ailment today that our culture likes to glorify. The media, advertising proceeds to promote love addiction over healthy relationships. Right now as over a hundred therapy sessions take place all over the country, at least two of the people sat in the chair opposite will be a suffering love addict. Love addicts are people who are addicted to the feeling that love gives them, consequently they will stay in the relationship they are in at all costs in order to feed this “high”. Just like any other drug there are highs, there are side effects and there are withdrawal symptoms. When the drug (the person) supplying the love is absent the addict will deeply crave the drug. The drug’s absence will inflict self-destructive behaviour, often manifested in self-mutilation, imposed by the “low”.
So what about a love addict suffering an abusive relationship? Most of the time the two are closely interrelated: emotional co-dependents unable to relinquish control of their partner, or in the victim’s case, unable to relinquish the security of ‘love’ that the abuser supplies.
Our culture glorifies love, actually promotes love addiction, we project that idea of falling in love against all odds to get the “happy ever after” but this neglects all the actual groundwork involved in making a successful and happy relationship not to mention compatibility. Take Romeo and Juliet for example. Their love is what so many women might aspire to, an ever-lasting, undying bond, so strong you would die for each other. But in actual fact their short lived relationship embodies one of two love addicted people, both falling for someone very unavailable, both falling in love VERY quickly – at first sight – this idealised notion of love. When in actual fact if their relationship had managed to live out a week it never would have been functional. Romeo would have plunged a sword into every man who dared glance at Jules, whilst she would have tired of waxing lyrical all day, the desperation of her unsolicited feelings would have driven her to despair as to Romeo’s absence, the weighty fear of not knowing what he was up to, the question of trust, upon which they had nothing to base upon, given the short term of their relationship. They would have suffocated each other with control and with dependency.
Climbing up balconies, wooing, “fair Verona” and love at first sight are all very well for the fairytale. But as our dear ‘star-crossed lovers’ represent, they will not do for “the marriage”.
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