I was recently chatting with a friend of mine who had left her tumultuous marriage a few months ago. Initially she felt strong in her decision to end the relationship, but as time went on she began to feel lonely and had started to reminisce about all the good times.
She told me she knew she shouldn’t go back but still, she could feel herself being drawn towards him again. Her memories of the good times were having a powerful amnesiac effect on all the bad times.
Eeek! Put your hand up if you’ve been there. I definitely have, and if you have a friend who’s in a repeating relationship you know it’s painful to watch.
So why do women keep going back to a bad relationship, hoping for love even though we know there will also be pain? Are we crazy?
The answer is NO.
What we are though, is unaware. We are unaware as to why we keep returning to pain in search of love. And for as long as a person is unaware, they keep repeating the same pattern of behaviour over and over again.
So what is it? What is this mysterious power that makes us keep going back for more?
From a very young age we have been taught something that is at the core of most (if not all) our dysfunctional relationships in adulthood.
We have been taught that our source of love is also the source of pain. Consider this:
From our infancy we needed love and nurturing; it was essential to our survival. So we would seek out our parents for smothering hugs and showers of kisses. But, under the guise of good parenting, we were also sometimes smacked, belittled, ridiculed or rejected by those very people who were our world. They wanted to teach us to do better and be better, and these common forms of punishment were the way to achieve that goal – or so it was believed.
So we came to learn that our source of love was also the source of emotional – and even physical – pain. To obtain that critical nurturing, we learned to stomach the pain that ran alongside the loving child-parent relationship.
I doubt whether this love served with dosages of hurt achieved the better humans it intended to create, but what I do know is this: it has left humanity struggling to understand what real love is.
But this is not about attributing blame. After all, we all do the best we can with the knowledge we have at the time and our parents simply followed the behaviours their own parents taught them. This love-hurt pattern spans generations.
So what should my friend do? Becoming aware of her love/hurt confusion is a start. Once she becomes aware, she can take positive steps to re-train herself, learn what real love is and what a healthy relationship looks like. It’s a process, but definitely do-able with the right support and conscious effort.
If you are struggling to cut emotional ties to a bad relationship or know someone who is, I’ve created my 100% Empowered Master Class to give women all the tools and strategies they need to discover their inner strength, break free from the cycle of unhealthy relationships and live a life filled with real love.