Broke my heart (and my arm)
Why do I care about losing an abuser? Our sick relationship (drinking alcohol and fighting a lot) lasted over a year. Last February, he broke my arm. I’ve talked to domestic violence counselors and I am prepared to overcome this situation, but I want to know why I feel so badly about losing this guy. The good times were fun, but the bad times were horrible. Why did I work so hard for someone who lied and cheated? I always took him back. Now he is living off another woman. I should be relieved that he’s gone, but I’m hurt and angry that it was so easy for him to replace me (and with an older woman!). Why am I so bothered?
Because you’re egocentric just like the rest of us. My question is: why aren’t you hurt and angry at yourself for replacing yourself with him? That choice left you addicted to drinking, fighting, arguing and seducing yourself into believing that what you had was love. The more destructive addiction here, though, is lying to yourself because it inspires the other emotional diseases I’ve listed. Every time you told yourself to let go of this guy, then held on, every time that you knew he was lying and let it go, every time you accepted being cheated on, you were lying to yourself about the quality of the relationship and your own value. I suggest that you commit to Alcoholics Anonymous today. Oh, and one more thing. Someday you’ll be an older woman, too. Be kind.
After reading your column, I’m beginning to think that my boyfriend and I have been infatuated for the last seven years. How long can infatuation last? How can it be turned into love?
Infatuation, that “at first sight” compulsion to launch into an instant relationship, can last for years. Decades, even. The problem often begins by having sex too soon. That creates the expectation and, very quickly, the creation of a steady relationship (albeit with someone you don’t really know, but are sexually compatible with or whom you idolize). For people who are content with superficial relationships, having a companion for outings and sex is enough. They are blind to the reality that the frequency, intensity and ridiculousness of their arguments signals incompatibility.
Those arguments, of course, are always about the little and large ways that one or the other person’s emotional, mental, physical (usually affection) and spiritual needs are unmet in the relationship (something that would have been obvious had the relationship been allowed to mature naturally). Many couples spend so little emotionally intimate time together that it can take years before they notice that their relationships are essentially hollow. At some point one person decides that they’ve had enough of the arguments and they saunter off, often into another instant relationship, unconsciously repeating the cycle because they are so deprived of whatever was unmet in the last relationship.
Since you’re already partnered, learn to meet your own needs rather than trying to convince your partner that it is their responsibility (and that they would do it if they really loved you). You can also slow your relationship down and get to know each other from the inside out. Ask each other: what you live for, what you would die for, what you dream of doing, what terrifies you, what’s the one thing you don’t want me to know about you—all the questions that one best friend would ask and answer for another.