Are you ‘madly’ in love or just a mad love junkie?
Disclaimer: I am not a therapist/psychologist, these are reflections based on a book I read and the techniques mentioned in them. TW: Emotional Abuse
Are you someone that chases behind emotionally unavailable people constantly? Or are you someone that is stuck in a relationship where you don’t feel seen or valued but you still stick on because “Oh, it’s love” or are you someone that just has severe abandonment issues?— if you fall into either one of these, or other similar categories, read whatever follows and re-evaluate your life.
We’ve all been a Ted Mosby at some point in our lives, chasing behind someone that just didn’t want to reciprocate our feelings towards them. It needn’t be someone new that you’re attracted to, it could also be an ex that you want to win back.
I’ve been there. I’m assuming so have many other people. And I know what goes on in the aftermath too, blaming the other person(for no fault of their own), blaming yourself, making big gestures(“Will you love me at least now?”), making your arguments for how you will be a good significant other like Harvey Specter in open court, doing/saying things at the cost of your own self-respect and mental health… well, you get the idea.
Through all of this, specifically after the rejection(maybe even before), there’s probably a voice inside you screaming and asking you to stop. Telling you that it’s not worth it, that maybe you guys are better off as friends or acquaintances, or just asking you not to make any more advances and get over them for good. Most people, or if you were like I was, would dismiss this voice as self-doubt. That’s where we go wrong. That voice? well, that’s how you truly feel about the situation. That’s your inner voice or inner child or instinct or gut feeling or whatever you want to call it.
What it is:
I’ll cut to the chase and say it as it is: You stopped liking the person a while ago. You’re now attracted to the idea of them, and you get a rush when they turn you down yet again. I’m not saying you like getting rejected. As a matter of fact, you hate it. It pains you. Scientific studies have proven that your body deals with rejection the same way it deals with physical pain. And as a response to this pain, it releases endorphins that react with the opioid receptors of your brain — and this is what you like.
Some of you might be stuck in relationships that your friends don’t approve of. “Why don’t you just dump their ass?” they ask you. You find yourself questioning if your relationship is healthy because your partner is mostly unavailable, hardly talks to you, hardly spend time with you, you argue over the smallest of things but it all seems fine when you guys make up and they turn loving toward you again. If I just described your relationship — your partner is a matador holding a red flag. Don’t be the bull that falls prey. Leave the arena.
A surprisingly huge number of people tolerate unhealthy patterns and red flags such as gaslighting in relationships. And they are similar to the lovelorn people in the above section — legal opioid junkies. And I am not saying that in a demeaning manner because I truly empathize and the reason I’m writing this is that these patterns need to change.
Answer these questions:
1. Does your partner ghost you without notice and text you like nothing went wrong in the middle?
2. Do you have to move mountains(or maybe even a molehill) to get them to give you attention/talk to you?
3. Do you make drastic changes to your life at their suggestion and don’t feel like yourself anymore? (Again, red flag — sign of gaslighting)
4. Do you feel like they are doing you a favour by staying in the relationship and does their behaviour confirm this feeling/fear of yours?
5. Do they act uninterested in you, pick faults, fight, ghost you and come back to be their “original” loving self? (RED FLAG. RUN.)
If your answer was “Yes” for more than two of these questions, you, my friend, might be an endorphin junkie too. But worry not, you shall recover.
You may not love the person as much as you love the validation you get from the relationship. Let me put it in pictures for you.
Now, this is just an isolated example. And this specific example might be an effect of bad communication as well, where your partner could have just told you that they were going to be busy and will not be able to communicate. When should you start becoming aware? When this becomes a pattern. When you communicate to them how you feel and they respond but continue doing the same.
A lot of this might be linked to unresolved abandonment issues. We all have it to a certain amount. Some of us had at least one parent whose validation we sought, some of us sought it from teachers who were harsh on us and some of us sought it from peer groups. No matter what, where or how, if a relationship or a friendship is unhealthy, it is okay to walk out of it.
Your brain is wired to this pattern where you’re constantly trying to win them over or win them back. Whether it’s a friend, a new partner, ex or someone who you’re already dating. The voice that we addressed before? That voice is what you need to listen to. Whether it asks you to ‘dump their ass’, ‘walk out of the friendship’ or ‘just get over him/her/them’. Let me explain a little more.
Three Different Voices
Humans as a species have been wired to avoid pain. That’s exactly why you don’t touch a hot vessel when you’ve already been burnt before, that’s exactly why you are careful not to cut your finger when you’re chopping onions, and.. you get the idea. But when we talk of pain, we mostly just take into account ‘physical pain’ — we completely discount emotional and mental pain or discomfort. That’s where the three parts of the personality come in. Dr Susan Anderson, the author of the book ‘Taming your Outer Child’(the inspiration behind this article) calls these three parts the Inner Child(The part that feels), The Outer Child(The Part that acts) and the Adult Self(The part that thinks).
Now, to keep it fun, I’m going to use the ‘Shoulder Angel’ Analogy that we’re all familiar with, as you see with the image of Kronk above. The Inner Child is the Angel. The part that feels. The part that carries your trauma. The Outer Child is the Devil. The part that acts. The part that is impulsive. The part that sends that text when you don’t want to, the part that stalks your ex when you swore not to, the part that has that extra drink when you said you’d limit yourself to two. The Adult Self remains the same. The Adult Self is the ‘You’ that I’ve been referring to in this paragraph.
Here’s how it’s been working so far — The Angel, your inner self, feels pain, anxiety, or any negative emotion. The Devil, your outer self, gets on fixing it immediately. “Angel is feeling anxious? We’re going to drink the anxiety away!” , “Feeling stressed? We’re going to stress eat an entire box of doughnuts”, “Feeling lonely? Let’s get drunk and text our friends!”. Think of the Devil as an overprotective older brother or like Bhim from Michael Madana Kamarajan — only acts, doesn’t think. (On a side note: if you haven’t watched the film, you’re missing out on a lot).
It is up to you, the Adult Self now, to take control. Your Inner Self reflects your truest emotions — happiness, sadness, anxiousness, any emotion for that matter. These emotions might be brought about by triggers from the past, traumatic events and different experiences. However, you can still change the way you react to these events simply by taking control from The Devil on your shoulder. Your Adult Self is instinctive, rational and most importantly, knows what is good for you. So, when it comes to relationships — requited or unrequited — trust your adult self to take the decision to move on.
Yes, it is going to be hard. Yes, it is going to hurt. But by giving control to your adult self, you are also preparing yourself to handle any kind of negative emotion in a healthy manner. You will not find yourself drinking away your sorrows once you break up or decide to move on, you will either be exercising or playing sports with your friends, taking yourself to therapy or discovering a new hobby.
The ultimate goal here is to listen to what your actual needs are — i.e, what your inner self tells you once you’ve drowned out your outer self’s noise — and acting on it as your adult self.
A lot of people who end up chasing emotionally unavailable people or get stuck in maladaptive, dysfunctional relationships are said to have low self-esteem. Self-love and Self-reliance is the way out.
There’s a lot of talk on the internet about ‘Self-love’ and people flaunting random images talking of self-love on their Instagram stories every random day like they’re programmed to do so. But I had a testing question — What the f*ck is self-love? and how the f*ck am I supposed to indulge in it when every time I look in the mirror, I automatically switch to self-loathing mode?
That’s where the three voices came to help me, especially during a very testing time in my life. There’s a quote from the book ‘Taming your Outer Child’ that I particularly loved:
When you usay:
“I love you just the way you are”
“I love you even though you’re a basket case and ruin my life with your damned anxiety!”
Self-love is hard when you hate yourself for having the feelings you do. But if you think about it, you don’t hate the feeling. It would be quite hard to do that because feelings are natural, you’ve had them even when you were in your mother’s womb. What you really hate is your reaction to it. You blame the cause, not the effect when it should be the other way around.
By separating your personality into three categories and personifying them, self-love becomes a little easier. You don’t blame yourself as much as you blame a part of yourself that you know you can change, and you let yourself truly feel your feelings instead of avoiding and discounting them. Your adult self, the over-arching figure that is watching over this, can make wise decisions that are rational and not ruled by your emotional mind.
To summarize, I hope this article helped you or a friend you care about. I am not trying to say that your partner or the person that you’re chasing is a bad person. But these patterns can unwittingly or deliberately happen and either way isn’t healthy. For the former, you can at least communicate and fix it. But if it’s deliberate, RUN FORREST RUN!
Most importantly, I hope your takeaway from this is that you learn a new way to set out on a journey to love yourself and work on yourself.