If I’m honest, I spent a good chunk of my adult dating life trying to make toxic relationships work. I could see the issues, the inevitable end-date, but I chose to ignore them in an effort to push on and push past the problems. But the truth is, once you spot one of these seven telltale signs he’s not The One for you, there’s only one thing left to do—and that’s pull the plug.
1. You don’t trust him. Whether you caught him in a lie or 10, or your instincts are setting off alarm bells every time he offers a new excuse for why he was late, there’s just something about this guy that breeds distrust deep in your gut. If you can’t trust what he says or does 99 percent of the time—we can make allowances for white lies used to plan surprise birthday parties or whisk you away on romantic weekend getaways—he’s not the guy for you.
2. You spend more time thinking about what’s wrong with him than what you like about him. No guy bats 1,000. Even the right guy will sometimes forget what you tell him, won’t always show his appreciation, and will say the wrong things. But if all you can focus on are this man’s flaws, it’s time to move on to someone whose missteps you’re able to accept.
3. When it comes to the big things, you have opposite opinions. Turning a blind eye to the fact that he’s an atheist while you believe in God, or that you envision a family of four while he desires to go kid-free, isn’t an effective solution for a long-term relationship. Yes, you can overcome small differences—and can even compromise on some larger issues—but there are just some things where a difference in opinion equals a deal-breaker.
4. Sex with him is just OK. Some couples go through temporary sex ruts, but what I’m referring to is a sex life so stunted it could put you to sleep paired with a guy who refuses to address your concerns, listen to your desires, and meet your needs. A guy who’s willing to work on things in and out of the bedroom to bring you pleasure is a keeper; one who cares only for his own orgasms or refuses to change between the sheets is not.
5. He’s super fun to be with—when you’re in the same room. You have a blast when you’re together, but this guy all but forgets your name when you’re apart. He doesn’t make an effort to see you, nor does he communicate while he’s away. A man who’s worth your time will make the time for you in return.
6. You don’t consider him a friend.
I believe it’s important to have some element of true friendship in a relationship. If you wouldn’t even be friends with the guy you’re seeing, why should you be dating him? There’s gotta be more than just great sexual chemistry. I’m not saying he has to be your best friend; I’m saying, there’s gotta be a basis of some kind of friendship somewhere.
7. He’s emotionally unavailable.
There’s no way around this one. Dating someone who is emotionally unavailable is like dating someone wearing a suit of armor made of mirrors — you try to see in, but all you see is yourself staring sadly back. Trust me on this one, you want someone who can open up to you. Someone who’s not afraid to cry in front of you when things get really rough. Someone who is ready to start a new chapter in their lives with you. If he can’t do those things, he’s not emotionally ready, and your relationship is doomed.
What are some other signs he’s not The One? Have you ever experienced one of the signs above?
PHOTOS: COURTESY PHOTO
He instructed me to strip, to crawl on the floor and fellate him.
I texted him as soon as I woke up.
“What do you want me to wear today?”
I brushed my teeth and washed my face while I waited for him to text me back.
“White button-down shirt. Tuck it in. Your jeans. Flats. Put your hair in a ponytail. Send me a photo.”
I dressed as instructed, then stood before the wall-length mirror in my apartment’s hallway. Smiling into the mirror, I snapped a photo on my iPhone and sent it to Ben*.
Thirty seconds later, a text message: “Very nice.” Then I knew I could leave for work.
Ben wasn’t abusive. I wasn’t being hurt, nor was I unhappy. We were in a dominant/submissive relationship — or playing at one, anyway — and following his orders got me unbelievably turned on.
Ben cheated on his girlfriend, Rachel, with me; he lied about going on a break with her for me. I was so upset when I found out he lied that I emailed her and told her he’d been cheating. But I haven’t been totally forthcoming about the nature of our relationship. Ben and I weren’t just friends who became attracted to each other; we were both extremely interested in exploring sexual roles as a dom (him) and a sub (me).
Ben cheated on his girlfriend with me, I can now clearly see, because he has strong, natural impulses to dominate a woman in bed. And his girlfriend, Rachel, wouldn’t let him. When we were just close friends, Ben would gripe to me about how he and Rachel rarely had sex.
As time passed, Ben and I talked frequently over IM or over the phone, and flirted with each other more and more. It’s not exactly a secret that I have a fetish about being spanked and at some point — clearly crossing the line of what was appropriate for a guy with a girlfriend and his cute single friend to be discussing — Ben told me he loved spanking women.
He loved it. He loved all types of light, sexual domination play — tying women up, using his paddle, hair-pulling — and Rachel wasn’t into any of that. And when it came to outside-of-bed stuff, Ben described Rachel as resisting his natural inclination toward leadership.
She didn’t particularly like him being protective toward her and he said they bickered constantly. So you can see why I saw an “in” here.
I should be clear, though: Ben wasn’t the first guy I’d come across who professed a liking for domination play. My first serious high school boyfriend was actually the one who flipped the pervert switch, making me realize that getting spanked turned me on. My boyfriends freshman and sophomore year of college both spanked me. And this other guy I dated in college actually took me to a “spanking club” in New York City where he rented a paddle and spanked me in public.
Then I dated Jason* after college and, through my relationship with him, I learned that it wasn’t just spanking that turned me on — it was dominance.
Jason was over six-feet-tall, with a strong and sturdily built. He had a naturally dominant personality. He could be fearless and decisive. He could be a leader. He could be stern and take charge when he needed to. He was protective. And he spanked me and dominated me in bed all the time, of course. But outside of bed, which was starting to feel like catnip in this new, weird way, I always felt “safe” with him because of the way he took charge.
It didn’t work out with Jason for other reasons, but he left me with 100 questions: I’m a feminist. Why do I like this so much? Isn’t this wrong? How can I be a good feminist and still like a man taking charge outside the bedroom?
It was 2006 around this time, so of course I spent a lot of time on Google looking for the answers. By searching terms like “spanking” and “domination,” I discovered many women online who wrote blogs sharing the same desires I held. They had college degrees, jobs, made their own money, but they were sexually attracted to men who dominated them both inside the bedroom and outside.
(Some of these women are what’s called “domestic discipline” arrangements, which have a lot of Christian influences and would take a long time to explain.) I studied these women for over a year and published an article called “Slap Happy” in the feminist/pop culture magazine Bitchabout them. (“Slap Happy” cannot be found online, but writer Amanda Marcotte at the feminist blog Pandagon wrote about it. And my article was included on the syllabus for a Rutgers University Human Sexuality class.)
I can’t explain to you how all-consumingly liberating it felt to know it wasn’t just me who wanted this. This is something hundreds of other women and men love, I thought. This is a part of me and my sexuality that I can be honest about.
I was pretty sure I didn’t want to be dominated by a man all the time like these women; though the idea of domination “play” some of the time, like Jason and I had engaged in, aroused me more than I had ever felt before.
Back to Ben: when he revealed to me that he got off from being dominant, I felt like I’d found the golden ticket. We not only shared the same kink but the same intensity for it. Ben wanted dominance and submission “play,” but all the time? Seriously? Where had he been all my life?
But because Ben was still dating Rachel, we didn’t do anything about this for a long time. We flirted for months and months, occasionally talking about our mutual love of spanking and domination, but in the one very intense month after he said he wanted to break up with Rachel to be with me, domination and submission “play” consumed us. First musing about it. Then doing it over IM, email, phone and text message.
Much of the non-sexual domination “play” with Ben was just a shift of our regular friendship: We’d talk about the stuff we’d usually talk about, but he would take a more dominant role, sternly issuing instructions. For example, I had a co-worker who was experiencing some difficulties, and being the naturally hyper-anxious person that I am I’d fret all the time about the fate of her job.
“Don’t worry about her; it’s not your responsibility. Worry about yourself,” he would say. And I would follow his instructions.
But there was the more obvious domination “play” component: As part of our “play,” I would ask him permission to do lots of things. I told him about all the kinds of bras and panties in my drawers, and each morning he’d tell me which ones to wear, which I would send him in a photo.
I would ask him how to dress each morning. I would ask him if I could watch a movie or if I had to work on writing a freelance article more. If I “disobeyed” him during this sexy-talk “play,” he would tell me over the phone or over IM how he would “punish” me.
But it was the sexual domination that was most amazing to me. Even though we physically had not been intimate with each other yet because of his girlfriend, we had phone sex with each other frequently where he’d verbally explain to me how he was going to spank me.
And much of our IM chats and emails were dirty talk about future spanking “punishments” to come: He would promise I’d be spanked 10 times for this or that infraction. He’d also tell me whether he was going to spank me with his hands or with his paddle. And, of course, we would talk dirty at length about having intercourse. Through all of this, he wanted me to call him “sir.”
Basically, Ben was one kinky motherf*cker.
For the first few weeks, I was horny constantly. And I mean constantly. Never before in my life have I experienced such weeks-long periods of horniness. One weekend, I couldn’t handle the horniness anymore and slept with two different guys and made out with a third. And trust me, I’d never done that before. I really felt like my sexuality had awakened and been released, roaring from the gate.
All the buildup actually raised my expectations too much, because the one and only time Ben and I were physically intimate with each other, it was a bit of a disappointment. Oh yes, he was sexually dominant: He instructed me to strip, to crawl on the floor and fellate him, and he spanked me with the paddle he kept in his closet.
But something about him seemed skittish, like he wasn’t giving 100 percent. I remember thinking, Where’s the guy who is a marvelous dirty-talker? The deflation could have been because Ben was cheating on Rachel with me; however, I got the sense that Ben liked talking about dom/sub more than actually doing it.
I never got to that find out: A week or so later, everything with Ben crashed and burned. It was messy, it was bad, and it was a horrible time in my life. (It’s not necessarily worth repeating and if you must, you can read about it here.)
My spectacular crash-and-burn at a dom/sub relationship, even though it was messy, was educational in ways I never could have imagined. I now see that what Ben and I had wasn’t aromance and we had no foundation to sustain a relationship beyond sex. That was just a disaster waiting to happen.
But I also realize now that Ben and I didn’t know what we were doing and we didn’t have the foundation of trust that a dom/sub relationship needs. Not “should have,” but “needs.” With no exceptions.
I gave Ben trust that he had not earned yet. When he would instruct me to stop worrying about my co-worker, I would listen, but really Ben had done nothing to prove he was worthy of this trust. In fact, if anything, he was negatively trustworthy for not having ended his relationship with Rachel yet. It was my fault for trusting a man who wasn’t trustworthy and I take full responsibility for that.
I also learned that when it comes to sex, sometimes people like talking about stuff more than they like doing it. They think they want it. They say they want it. But — and this is where needing to be able to trust someone’s word comes in — they’re afraid to fully experience what all their sexual impulses are telling them.
Maybe it’s because it’s scary to them. Maybe it’s because it’s so taboo. I don’t really know; I just know that Ben turned out to be that person while I was not.
I’m glad I have nothing whatsoever to do with Ben anymore, but I’m kind of bummed my first foray into a dom/sub relationship didn’t work out. I really would have loved it. Now, I’m in a loving, committed relationship with the man I’m going to marry and we have a happy sex life, but he doesn’t share the same desire for dom/sub “play” that I have.
But these days, given how I had such a negative experience with domination the first time, I’m not eager to repeat it.
Written by Jessica Wakeman.
“I’m driving him away, I just know I am,” she sniffed. “It’s just that I love him so much and I can’t bear the thought of losing him!” Emma had been badly hurt before by her former cheating fiancé. Once bitten, twice shy. Part of her knew that her new man was decent, caring, and honest, but the emotional bit of Emma felt that it was “just a matter of time” before things went wrong.
“If he’s quiet I actually start panicking! I’m thinking: What’s he planning? Is he going to finish with me? Has he met someone else? If I don’t know exactly where he is I get suspicious. He constantly has to reassure me. What can I do?”
Insecurity spoils relationships. Insecurity drives people to become too ‘clingy’ or needy and this creates problems.
Feeling insecure in a relationship is natural up to a point, at least until the relationship “settles”. Let’s look at this in more depth:
Relationships: A security issue
When we enter an intimate relationship we can feel very emotionally vulnerable; especially if we have felt let down or hurt in previous relationships.
- Will they reject me?
- Have I done something to upset them?
- This is just too good to last!
These are the typical thoughts and feelings of the chronically insecure partner. Being insecure is a whole lot of hard work. So what does it involve?
Seeing problems where none exist
When we become anxious about anything, we start looking for signs of things ‘going wrong’ (nervous flyers look out for signs that the aircraft is in trouble). And, of course, we usually find what we’re looking for, even if it isn’t really there at all.
We perform constant monitoring: “Do they look fed up? Why did they say that? Who’s this other person they’ve mentioned? Should I feel threatened? Are they less attentive? Why did they pause after I suggested we meet up?” All this is exhausting.
Emma said she had often felt inadequate and “not good enough” to be with her current partner. She couldn’t possibly understand what he could see in her.
She also told me she had ended many previous relationships because of her insecurity. “It felt easier for me to end it before they did!” Walking away rather than risk the pain of feeling abandoned can seem the easiest thing to do. But we all need the comforts and support that intimacy can bring us. So what can you do if insecurity is blighting your relationships?
1) Stop confusing imagination with reality
Making stuff up and then believing it is a sure-fire way to self-torment.
The insecure flyer will hear the normal mechanism of the air conditioning and twist it within their imagination to signify impending doom via crash and burn. They’ll imagine the bored look on an air steward’s face to be barely concealed terror because, “He must know something we don’t!” The over-imaginative flyer may even fantasize the sound of the landing gear coming down is an engine falling from the plane. They scare themselves by assuming what they imagine represents reality.
There are normal ‘mechanisms’ to any relationship. There are ebbs and flows and mood changes, moments of intimacy and closeness and comfortable spaces. These ebbs and flows are normal. Wanting to be absolutely close and intimate all the time is like wanting an aeroplane to never make a sound or a movement.
Next time you feel insecure, ask yourself what it is you are imagining. Write it down on paper under, ‘Stuff I am making up in my head.’ Being able to distinguish between what you imagine and what is actually happening is a massive step toward self-assurance. Which neatly links to…
2) Avoid the Certainty Trap
Overcoming relationship insecurity is partly about becoming less controlling. This may sound strange, but feeling that: “This relationship must be exactly as I think it should be!” is a form of over-control. A sign of insecurity in relationships is when the desire for certainty becomes too strong.
Having to know whether your partner really loves you, having to know this or having to know that puts a lot of unnecessary strain and tension into the relationship. The fact is, we all have to live with uncertainty. Insecure people can still feel insecure even when they are told they are loved. Wanting what is not possible (complete and utter certainty in all and everything forever) is not possible because imagination can still make up doubts. So stop looking for certainty where it doesn’t apply.
Self-assurance comes from starting to relax with uncertainty. Wanting to know for certain that someone will be with you forever prevents you enjoying the here and now. Nothing in life is certain.
3) Give the relationship room to breathe
When you plant a seed in the ground, you need to give it access to sunlight, water, and air; you need to give it space to develop. Your relationship needs room to breathe. Schedule in some ‘separate time’ and just see it for what it is. The developing flower needing space to grow isn’t a sign that it is heading for collapse.
4) Stop ‘mind reading’
Constantly wondering what your partner is thinking is a quick route to anxiety. If they say one thing don’t assume they mean another. If they say nothing don’t assume that their silence is significant, either.
Many men relax by not talking. Constantly wondering and asking what someone is thinking is a dead end because even if they do tell, will you believe them anyway?
‘Mind reading’ happens when we assume we know what someone is thinking when we don’t. When you stop doing it, you really begin to respect someone’s privacy because everyone deserves the right to have space to think their own thoughts. Constantly asking, “What are you thinking?” can make someone want to withdraw further.
5) Stop comparing current relationships to past ones
Have you ever taken an instant disliking/liking to someone merely because they reminded you of someone else who you disliked/liked? Some people do this with whole relationships. Because they were in a relationship with someone who was abusive, very critical or dishonest, or who left them, they respond to a new partner defensively or angrily when, in fact, the new partner is not really like the old one at all.
The extreme form of this ‘sloppy comparison’ can lead to destructive over-generalizations such as, “All men are lying bastards!” or “All women are promiscuous money grabbers!”
If you suspect you have been making faulty unfair comparisons between your current partner and a former one, then write a list of all the destructive traits of your former partner. Write next to this list all the ways your current partner is different and review this list regularly. This will help you to stop assuming that the future has to be like the past.
6) For security: Seek self-assurance
Rather than always looking to the other person to make you feel secure in your relationship, get into the habit of reassuring yourself. Start to challenge your own fears and imaginings rather than just accepting them. Ask yourself: “Hold on a second. What real evidence is there for this fear?” At the same time you can focus on the thought: “Okay, nothing in this life is certain and I can live with that. And even if this relationship did end, I’m strong enough to go through it and ride it and will have learnt things from it.” We all need to go with the flow in relationships. What we fear will be ‘the end of the world’ if it happens never really is.
Sit down, close your eyes, and strongly imagine feeling relaxed and secure around your partner. This will train your brain to feel that “whatever happens, I’ll be okay.
7) Focus on the good
Relationships are meant to be fun (at least some of the time). Insecure people look for signs of what’s not working. I want you to look for signs of what is.
Doing this will get you and your partner feeling naturally more positive.
No meaningful relationship will always totally work all the time. Being too black or white about relationships spells trouble. There are always some difficulties, but keep focussing on what is good.
This doesn’t mean that you have to accept anyone who will accept you, even if they are obviously not right for you. But it does mean that if there are occasional problems, you don’t have to ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’ and become so destructive that the relationship ends or so clingy that your partner ends it for you.
Emma learned to relax and enjoy her relationship. She stopped feeling she had to control what her partner thought or did and her new laidback attitude made it easier for their love to genuinely blossom.
A good relationship is there for you to enjoy together, to share resources and develop together in healthy ways. If someone really does treat you badly or lies and cheats, then feeling insecure is a natural and justified response. However, if you’re actually in a generally good relationship, then follow these tips because what you have is precious.
But possibly not as precious as the knowledge that whatever happens, you can relax because you’ll be okay.
All of us at one point or another in our lives play psychological games. Whether consciously or unconsciously, whether at home, at work, among strangers, or among friends, we have all engaged in games that are sometimes beneficial and useful, and other times detrimental to our health and the well-being of others.
Psychological games are often rewarding to one party and harmful to the other, creating exhausting and messy dynamics in every kind of relationship. Sometimes we are so deeply ingrained in the cat-and-mouse games that define our relationships that we aren’t even aware of what is happening.
So why do people play games in relationships? And how can you identify whether you are instigating the games, or serving as the prey of them?
Exploring Psychological Theatrics
What do people get out of playing games in relationships? The answer is quite simple:
They get something out of it.
Whether the incentives to play games involve gaining security, gaining control or gaining self-esteem and self-justification, psychological theatrics are always ways of fulfilling an (often) unconscious goal.
It’s also important to note that playing games in relationships involves two people, not just one person “victimizing the other.” As they say: it takes two to tango, and games are the result of enabling behaviors just as much as manipulative behaviors.
So resist the urge to victimize yourself or demonize another.
5 Types of Games Played in Relationships
One of the best ways of establishing a healthy and honest relationship is to be mindful of the games people play in relationships. You and your partner – like everyone else – are not exempt from engaging in these forms of emotional gimmickry.
Below I will explore some of the most common psychological games and their dynamics.
1. Frigid Woman/Man
This game often occurs with a woman (sometimes man) who is pursued by her husband for sex, but is rejected on the grounds that “all men ever want is sex – they’re so selfish and they’re incapable of just loving me for me.”
Eventually as the husband (sometimes wife) is rebuffed in this way more and more, he loses hope and stops making sexual advances. As time progresses and the husband remains quiet, the wife becomes more and more provocative in her behavior. For example, she might walk around in skimpy clothing, bend over in suggestible ways, or even (in extreme cases) flirt with other men.
The husband, seeing his wife’s behavior, continues to resist seeing it as a kind of “trap.” However, when the wife turns up her provocativeness and begins to engage in more physical contact (e.g. kisses), the husband regains a glimmer of hope and launches in with hopes of sexual intimacy. However, the wife immediately rebuffs him with her usual “See! Men are so selfish and obsessed with sex. All I wanted was intimacy!” excuse.
Reason for the behavior: Fear of sex, fear of vulnerability, desire for more sexual intensity.
Hidden incentives for the behavior: Avoidance of sex due to shame and fear, enhanced sexual stimulation and intensity, self-esteem justification of “I’m OK, you’re not OK.”
2. If it Weren’t For You (IWFY)
This game starts with a passive person (male or female) selecting a more dominant partner. Naturally, the domineering partner restricts the activities of the passive partner, and so the passive partner resigns to the role of the victim with the catch-cry of“If it weren’t for you I could do this, I could do that” etc.
Reason for the behavior: Unconsciously the passive partner chooses a controlling partner as a way of avoiding frightening situations that may jeopardize their self-image. It also gives the passive partner the “power card” to play in arguments, and contributes towards their belief that “They’re OK, but others are not OK.”
Hidden incentives for the behavior: Avoidance of fearful situations, safety, self-righteous victimhood, power.
3. See What You Made Me Do (SWYMD)
Within a relationship sometimes it is common for one partner to get extremely absorbed in a project of some kind. Whether this project is a simple household chore, hobby, or work-related task, it tends to absorb the partner’s time, energy and effort constantly.
When the other partner intervenes however, the busy partner might exclaim something along the lines of “See what you made me do!” as a result of accidentally deleting their whole work document, dropping a can of paint, injuring their thumb with a hammer mishap, or any other instance. Of course, it is the partner’s own anger and high-strung state that causes the accident.
The intervening partner soon learns, with enough of these instances, to not interfere or interrupt with their busy partner, leaving them alone, and allowing them to spend more time by themselves than with the rest of the family.
Reason for the behavior: Deep down the busy partner is actually fearful of intimacy and connection, and so avoids these compromising situations by burying him/herself in the solitude of work.
Hidden incentives for the behavior: Avoidance of emotional and sexual intimacy, confirmation of the belief that “I’m OK, but others aren’t OK, aren’t reliable, are nuisances” etc.
4. Now I’ve Got You, You Son of a B*tch (NIGYSOB)
In this game, the NIGYSOB player selects a partner who is a classic button-pusher; in other words, a person who knows what negative emotional triggers to set off in others at the right (or wrong) times. Both partners in this game experience hostility towards one another, however the NIGYSOB player externalizes their anger, while the button-pusher internalizes their anger.
The problems usually start when the NIGYSOB partner is in a bad mood about something. The button-pusher partner, known for their ability to provoke “hot buttons,” triggers a tirade of anger in their NIGYSOB partner usually with a poorly timed question or comment.
For example, the NIGYSOB partner might come home after a long day at work in a foul mood. The button-pusher, sensing this, might ask something like, “What have I done wrong now?” which triggers the NIGYSOB partner to launch into a long angry monologue of how the other person is “so self-centered, only cares about themselves, is only really an unthoughtful and egocentric person” etc. In other words, “Now I’ve got you, you son of a b*tch!”
Reason for the behavior: The NIGYSOB partner selects a partner who will allow them to avoid their anger/jealous behavior by providing them with a seemingly legitimate way to vent their rage. They then feel justified for behaving the way they do.
Hidden incentives for the behavior: Avoidance of personal issues such as fury and resentment, self-justification of their inability to control their emotions through the use of an outlet, confirmation of the belief that “I’m OK, but other people aren’t,” avoidance of self-responsibility.
5. I Don’t Need You (IDNY)
The I Don’t Need You game is paradoxical in that it is played inside a relationship, but with the rules of the dating sphere. Usually only played by one “femme fatale” or “player” figure within the relationship, this game involves an underlying tug-of-war game. On one side, the femme fatale or player tugs for power, and on the other side the partner tugs for attention and recognition.
A common example of the IDNY game within relationships is when one partner behaves in ways that suggest “they don’t truly need the other person.” This could manifest itself in individualistic behavior like going to a festival or event alone (or with a group of friends), or openly “wanton” behavior such as flirting with other men and women, advertising their “other” admirers, and so forth.
In response to the IDNY partner’s games, the other partner reacts by trying harder and harder to gain the attention and “win” the affection of their seemingly disinterested partner. When the IDNY partner is not satisfied with their partner’s efforts, they might exclaim, for instance, “I could have gone to that screening rather than sit here with you!” or even something as extreme as “I should have never decided to marry you!”
Reason for the behavior: Underneath the IDNY partner’s game is a deep fear of commitment, intimacy, and especially vulnerability. They might fear their own defectiveness, ugliness and impotence, and therefore compensate this fear with the pursuit of being “desirable” and “sought after” even within relationships. On the other hand, the IDNY partner might genuinely be a narcissistic person with the desire to wrap others around his/her fingers.
Hidden incentives for the behavior: Power, control, avoidance of vulnerability, establishment of false self-image, sexual stimulation.
Why do people play games in relationships? There are many reasons as we have seen above. The truth is that relationships aren’t always entered solely to give and receive love. Often there are many other underlying goals and pursuits in play that are a result of unconscious fears and desires.
The good news is that once you become aware of the patterns that constitute these games you will be able to heal, transform and also create relationships that are healthy, stable and fulfilling.
Have you experienced any of these relationships? Do you have any of your own to add? Please share!
Source: Loner Wolf
When we start the process of detangling from the web a narcissist has weaved we are so emotionally exhausted it can be very difficult to see what has actually happened, so we often look to portion out blame.
Is it them?
Is it us?
Is it everyone around us? Our circumstances? Bad timing?
Where lies the truth?
The biggest problem is found in the colour of glasses we choose to wear. Red flags are never visible whilst wearing rose-coloured tints, or any other shade for that matter.
When we are ready to seek the truth it all begins to become much clearer.
A game for one has little gain for a narcissist, as they need to plug into someone else to receive an emotional “fix.” Narcissists are detached from their emotions as there are blockages preventing movement. The only way they are capable of processing emotions is when they tap into someone else’s emotional energy.
Narcissists will likely seek out people who have large amounts of excess energy. For example, they will connect with empaths who are intuitive healers and who tend to vibrate love and healing energy. If an empath is not taking care of themselves properly, they will leak out energy at such an intense level that it can be detrimental to their own emotional well-being. Empaths are also an easy target for those looking for an easy feed.
An exchange often takes place as the narcissist is seeking admiration, validation and a desire to constantly have their ego stroked and in return they will provide whatever it is the other person is lacking. However, what the narcissist offers is only on the surface and comes with conditions that their needs are always met with priority, regardless of the effects this has on anyone else.
This can look like a fair deal, especially to the narcissist, though unfortunately it isn’t as the narcissist has a strong need to be in control. The other person then very quickly becomes the prey—the narcissist being the sharp and hungry predator.
What may seem like an equal exchange is something very different. The narcissist will feed to receive validation to such an extent that it leaves the other person totally drained and feeling worthless. Meanwhile, the narcissist rises above resting high up on their well-deserved throne where they fully believe they belong.
Narcissists are a dazzling light that fireflies cannot stay away from. They will dance around it until they have been thoroughly burned.
We are like the firefly, lingering around sifting through charred ashes hoping to find codes and clues to figure out what exactly went wrong.
We find it difficult to believe that what began as a fairy-tale ended with a far less enchanted story penned by The Brothers Grimm.
When clarity arrives we are left shell-shocked and bewildered and we frantically scramble to try to understand what drew us towards this raging fire in the first place. We look back puzzled and wondering what type of insanity caused us to stand torturing ourselves on scorching coals, refusing to step away so we could take some relief from the pain.
Unfortunately, we will find no answers from the narcissist. This is mainly because a narcissist will hold all of their cards very close to their chests. They refuse to show anyone their hand due to a fear of being exposed, as removing their masks would signal the end of their royal and majestic reign.
Narcissists have a grandiose opinion of themselves and they survive on drama. They want the to be on centre stage when the show reaches its climax so they will not want to be seen scurrying through the dark back door of the theatre house.
Therefore, we have no option but to work out the dynamics for ourselves and not concern ourselves with the details on the narcissist’s agenda. We should try to focus on what attracted us so powerfully in the first place so that we can prevent a repeat performance and more importantly take accountability for our own role.
A relationship with a narcissist is usually a steady process that has built up over time. Like an insidious drip we are slowly fed an addictive poison so by the time we resurface we are intoxicated, dazed and confused.
We have to remember that we choose to drink the elixir. It is never forced upon us. Narcissists are clever and cunning players of their complex game and they will find little pleasure if an opponent is not eager and willing to partake.
If a narcissist comes across someone who is more skilled or significantly mentally stronger than they are, the board will be flipped over, tantrums often displayed and the game ends before it has even begun.
For those that have not witnessed the timorous chameleon caught in the act of changing colours, narcissists are the most irresistible, charismatic, thoughtful, caring, passionate and lovable characters we could ever wish to meet.
We are in shock that we have met someone who seems to tick every box and meet all needs and desires.
And narcissists are in their element when we are caught like a rabbit in their headlights, astounded by their magnificence and in awe at their sexual prowess and unfailing charm.
Realistically, the narcissist is simply role-playing. They read us instantly and they quickly work out exactly what it is we are hoping to receive from them.
We want someone strong and independent and they will show us these traits. If we want a sensitive, deep and introverted type, they have the ability to quickly put on that mask instead. They are masters at deception and they play a quickly changing manipulative game.
The narcissist is fully in control at this stage and they intend to keep it this way. If they are successful in bewitching us we are then led directly to their lair. Once we are spellbound and falling head over heels, that is where the real magic takes place. We are basically a prop, however a willing one.
Now, if we were to suddenly open our eyes, take off our tinted glasses and remove the narcissist’s masks we would see everything play out just as clearly as though we were sitting in the audience watching people step into their character roles.
We are looking to the narcissist to meet our needs. We are projecting on them all the things we want and they are delivering what it is we are hoping for. This is a mutually beneficial arrangement in these beginning stages.
We ask—the narcissist delivers.
We begin to enter co-dependency. We place our happiness, hopes and dreams into the hands of a narcissist and they are then free to put them into a pot and stir them all up. However, not before they add to the mix all their own hopes and dreams, which, unfortunately do not mirror our own.
The narcissist thinks only of themselves and will work extremely hard behind the scenes to ensure that their life plays out exactly as they have envisaged in their mind. Someone who is not a narcissist will not be thinking only of themselves, they will be thinking of both people involved in the relationship. The balance is out, the scales will immediately tip.
The spill out from the tip is what takes place continuously throughout the relationship. Nothing is ever steady and the scales will always be manically swaying. Every time the scales turn erratic, if we try to jump out and onto safety, the narcissist will steady things once again by feeding us what we want to hear. We stay. Things balance out, but only temporarily. Soon enough, the narcissist tips the scales once again in their own favour. Repeat, repeat and repeat.
Until one day, the narcissist has taken all that they need so we are rendered useless, emotionally beaten and no longer worthy of the superior narcissists company. They will find it very easy to walk away like a bloodthirsty vampire moving on to bleed their next victim dry.
Or, the other more preferable option—we open our eyes.
We stop looking to others to provide what we need and feed ourselves large enough doses of love, self-worth, independence and happiness. This will mean that when we are faced with a narcissist, we will not be looking to them to keep us fulfilled and alive, as realistically all they deliver is nothing more than a quick injection of junk food with very little nourishment.
When we are hungry, we are weak and we accept less.
We begin to starve.
We are weakened further.
It is a painful, but very simple truth.
Author: Alex Myles
Source: Elephant Journal
They twist the facts.
Often, psychopaths will attempt to distort reality to create doubt in your mind about the way things really happened in the past. This is one of the oldest manipulation techniques in the book. Don’t let them do it to you.
They turn everything back on you.
The psychopath constantly makes everything your fault. If they cheated on you, it’s because of something YOU did, right? They constantly scapegoat every poor decision they make onto you, saying that you made them feel a certain way or you pushed them into doing something wrong. Don’t buy it.
They tear you down.
The psychopath maintains their position of power in a relationship by making themselves seem better than you, above you. They do this through condescension and tearing you down. They try to make you look ridiculous in front of your friends and family, all while seeming great themselves.
They isolate you.
This is one of their sneakier actions. In an attempt to control you, they isolate you from your friends and family. You naturally want to go out and have fun with them, but ohh, gosh, they just don’t feel like it tonight. Or ever. Sound familiar? Next thing you know, you never see your friends anymore. It’s a subtle manipulation.
They insist it’s always your fault.
It’s how they absolve themselves of any kind of sin they may have committed. A psychopath can’t ever admit to wrongdoing so they force it onto you.
Source: Higher Perspective
There’s a certain type of love we all crave and chase. We want it to be all-consuming. We want to think about our partners all day and night. We want to be love sick to the point of nausea. We’ve seen that type of love on television, and we’ve been moved by songs written about it.
Once we experience love our desire for it only increases. We remember the euphoria of being intimately tied to another human being, and we want to recapture that feeling. It’s difficult to articulate what, exactly, that feels like.
Well, it’s almost as if love is a drug, and you want another hit. That sounds crazy but, believe it or not, there’s science to back it up.
Falling in love stimulates the same part of the brain as an actual drug.
In the moments immediately following the use of an illicit drug like cocaine, the brain’s levels of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine skyrocket, causing feelings of euphoria. The ‘high’ of the high. Yet it seems that the initial stages of love offer a similar (albeit legal) kind of high.
Helen Fisher, an anthropologist whose work focuses on relationships, hasstudied this phenomenon. Her research has found that, when you fall in love, serotonin lifts your confidence levels, norepinephrine boosts your energy and dopamine enhances feelings of pleasure.
In simpler terms: You feel like you’re on top of the world when you’re falling in love.
In addition to stimulating these brain chemicals, new love also plays tricks on the amygdala, which acts like the brain’s fear center. Think about how stressful those beginning stages of a relationship are — they tap into your deepest insecurities because you can’t really tell if your partner is on the same page.
These stresses stimulate the amygdala, which then signals your adrenal glands to produce adrenaline, making your heart flutter. Noradrenaline makes you sweat. Cortisol sends a wave of excess energy to your muscles. Sounds like the physical reaction to a drug, right?
Some scientists think that love used to be one of the only highs people experienced in ancient times. Only in the modern age have we felt the need for anything else.
Can love actually help manage pain?
Now that we’ve established that love alters the brain like a drug, there’s another question to consider: Does that mean its effects can actually help when you’re in pain?
The hypothesis was there for researchers Arthur Aron, PhD, and Sean Mackey, MD, PhD, of SUNY Stonybrook. They hypothesized that since the brain’s reward system is critical in pain management, and love targets that reward system, it must have an overall impact.
They tested this hypothesis by having volunteers undergo MRI scans while they were experiencing pain. When patients were holding pictures of their loved ones dopamine spiked in their brains. The reward center took over and reduced their pain, the brain scans suggested.
But if love can help manage pain, does that mean it can also cause pain?
Recovering after a breakup is like detoxing after drug use.
We’ve all been through a terribly painful breakup. Can’t breathe, can’t sleep, can’t eat — it’s one of the worst kinds of pain. You start jonesing for your ex the same way you jones for coffee at 3pm.
That’s because you haven’t just broken up with someone; you are literally detoxing from the feeling of being in love.
Fisher has also studied the effects breakups have on the brain through experiments in which she recruited college-aged men and women who were reeling from the recent end to their relationships. When the participants looked at photos of their exes, the parts of their brains that lit up in scans were associated with physical pain, distress and attachment. Those are the same areas of the brain that are stimulated by drug dependency.
And, just like someone suffering from drug addiction, people who are suffering through a breakup are prone to obsessions and reality distortions.
This revelation seems to prove that going “cold turkey” to quit your ex is the best strategy. That means no emails, texts or phone calls.
Love may be intoxicating at first, but when it turns sour, it can get just as dangerous and insidious as cocaine. Think about that the next time you flirt with the person next to you at the bar and you feel yourself falling.
Author: Blair Thill
Source: Elite Daily
“Unfortunately there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. If an inferiority is conscious, one always has a chance to correct it. Furthermore, it is constantly in contact with other interests, so that it is continually subjected to modifications. But if it is repressed and isolated from consciousness, it never gets corrected.” ~ Carl G. Jung
I remember the day I fell back into my bad habits. I was in the middle of a course of CBT to help me overcome my depression and anxiety at that time in my life and at this one particular session I told my therapist I had nothing to talk about. “I’m fine, there’s nothing I feel I want to say this week” I said. Except that both she and I could sense the huge elephant in the room. I was avoiding something. I was doing what I used to do best and shutting down when I had ‘messed up’ or when I felt guilty, ashamed or angry with myself. Until the next session that is, when I tearily opened up and confessed that the previous weekend I had slipped back into old habitual behaviour and had ended up having a huge blow-out night drinking and taking drugs. When she asked me why I didn’t tell her, I said that it was because I felt ashamed that I’d done something bad and thought she’d judge me for not fully participating in our work together. At that moment she asked me a question which has stayed with me forever since.
“What does ‘bad’ mean Natalie?”
I told her it meant getting swayed off course, doing something I shouldn’t, and being pulled back over to the dark side of my personality.
But then she asked me, “Why is it bad to have a dark side? You’re a multi-faceted person. You’re allowed to have different aspects to your personality and it’s only you who is saying that these aspects are either good or bad”.
It was in that moment that I became acutely aware of just how much I’d judged myself over the years. Any time I did anything I thought to be wrong, stupid or bad, I leapt right in there and tarnished myself with the ‘you’re a really bad person Natalie’ brush. I had been living in a very black and white world, when in reality, as we go about our lives and do different things, make mistakes, make healthy decisions and not so healthy ones, we’re just navigating, we’re just learning, we’re just doing what we feel is right at the time, and none of that necessarily makes us a good or bad person, it just makes us human.
From that moment on I began to challenge the relationship I had created with my so-called dark-side. Who was that part of me anyway?
Well to me she was a bad person, mislead, a screw-up, a failure, and any time I even hinted back towards my previously constant party-girl behavior I got out my little black and white paint brush again and decided that I was a bad person because of one little night out letting my hair down. The problem with this viewpoint though, was that I was completely ignoring what wasn’t ‘bad’ about this part of me as well. So I’m an ex-party girl, so what? What I’m also really good at is bringing people together, being a great hostess, making people feel welcome, making people laugh, having fun and knowing when I need to relax. Yes maybe I didn’t always make the healthiest choices when it came to relaxing or having fun at times and yes, I had to question those choices and why I was making them, but I really had to stop with my own self-defeating self-talk talk. It was finally time to let go of that harsh, self-critical inner voice, because she wasn’t doing me any favors. And so I began to explore how, instead of shutting her out, I could at least be friends with her and if you’ve been fighting with an aspect of yourself lately, I encourage you to do the same.
Below are the 3 simple shifts that I made and that can help you make friends with your dark side:
1. Acknowledge her but don’t indulge her.
“Why, when we know that there’s no such thing as perfect, do most of us spend an incredible amount of time and energy trying to be everything to everyone? Is it that we really admire perfection? No – the truth is that we are actually drawn to people who are real and down-to-earth. We love authenticity and we know that life is messy and imperfect.” ~ Brene Brown
The worst thing you can do with an aspect of your personality you’re afraid to come face to face with is ignore it or suppress it. That part of you you’re wrestling with is still part of you. Yes, he/she might represent fear or doubt at times, but that’s still part of who you are, so acknowledge him/her. If you shut the door in her face, her knock will just get louder and more persistent, so let her in and get to know her, but when she acts up, don’t indulge her. My inner party girl would often be the source of my unhappiness because she never wanted to sit still; she was always searching for ways to be better, more popular, more loved, when what I really had to do was tell her to love herself. Instead, for years I made the mistake of sitting with her and wallowing in self-pity over a beer when she was feeling insecure. I completely indulged her victim mentality, so these days I have to pull her back if she starts peering over the rabbit hole of the downward negativity spiral and let her know that although I’m listening, I’m not buying into everything she’s saying.
2. Ask her what she really needs.
I have accepted that I can get a little carried away at times and I certainly know how to have fun, but these days I’ve learnt to distinguish between when my party-girl is trying to trip me up, or when she really does just need some TLC. I can feel the need to cut loose and reach for an instant quick fix when I’m feeling bored, insecure, low, when I feel my energy has been drained by someone else, or when I am craving some sort of attention or reason to escape. In those moments, I take a deep, conscious breath and ask myself what I’d love to do that’s fun but that will fill me up and nourish me again. Sometimes its organizing lunch with my girlfriends, sometimes it’s running a hot bath to soak in with a good book, or sometimes it is planning a night out at a gig where we might have a few drinks, but it’s all much more mindful and so I’m no longer numbing-out or ignoring myself.
3. Learn to love your dark side.
Even if your dark side doesn’t always want to love you, you have to love her first. This really just comes from practicing self-love every single day even when you might not feel very lovable, and knowing that you’re worthy of that love and attention. For many years I thought I wasn’t worth anything to anyone and I certainly didn’t believe I was attractive or desirable, hence my party-girl looking for drugs and alcohol to boost her confidence and keep her appearing outwardly energetic and happy. If you really love your body and want to feel good, no external thing or person can do this for you, this work comes from inside you and it’s up to you to lean into the moments that you feel light, expansive and joyful and know that it’s OK to feel that way. Life doesn’t have to be an uphill struggle, but it will continue to be if every time you look in the mirror you go back to your dark side and start saying mean things to yourself about the way you look. You are worthy of the best and nothing less and you are certainly none of the things you say to your reflection, those are just plain mean.
“Inner peace can be reached only when we practice forgiveness. Forgiveness is letting go of the past, and is therefore the means of correcting our misperceptions.” – Gerald Jampolsky
None of us are perfect, but both the so called light and dark sides of us make up the whole person we are. It’s not all about the shiny, beautiful, well-behaved, or ‘perfect’ ideal. Being who you truly are means embracing, accepting and loving every part of you and showing those parts to other people, especially those that truly love you. Living that way means living authentically, unedited and being 100%, unapologetically you, and in my opinion, that is the only way to live our best, most beautiful life.
Do you have a dark side? Something about yourself that you’re ashamed of? Something that not everybody knows about you? Well how about exploring that part of yourself instead of keeping her locked away? Because to deny a part of yourself means not living wholly. To suppress a part of yourself and pretend it’s not there means you’re not fully accepting, embracing and getting to know yourself and loving every part of you whether it’s ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in your eyes.
This article was written by Natalie Edwards. Natalie is a Transformational Coach and Forrest Yoga Teacher guiding women who are searching for more to drop from their head to their heart and create a business and life they love. Fascinated by the body-mind connection, she helps her clients reconnect to their bodies and come back to a more inspired and truthful way of living, and create a freedom-based lifestyle that’s completely on their terms. You can find out more about her at www.natedwards.co.uk.
With all my love,