In part one of this series, I explained how we can feel isolated in relationships because we either cater to our own fears or we cater to someone else’s control. I followed up on this in part two by looking at how us needing to have faith in ourselves so that we can trust in the right things instead of the fears is paramount to stopping the isolation.

Ultimately, when we are isolated in our relationships, someone has too much power (and it’s not you), either because they assumed it and grabbed it with both hands or because it was handed over to them.

It is very easy to feel helpless in poor relationships because the sense of inertia built around your fears and the lack of follow through on words with actions means that it will be all too easy to put the power in someone else’s hands to make the relationship different.

In looking for someone else to validate us and to fulfil anything that we lack and give us all that we need, they automatically have too much power anyway because the natural co-dependency that this creates means that with everything being centred around them, it will be near impossible to contemplate an existence without them…even if they’re making you miserable.

We hand over the power because we want someone else to be responsible for our outcome.

As always, when we find ourselves habitually in poor relationships, even though it can appear that we are fighting to save the relationship, by catering to our fears, our beliefs, and the ultimate self-fulfilling prophecy that results, we get to be ‘right’ and say that the reason why the relationship is failing is because there is something wrong with the other person, they don’t recognise how good they have it, and they’re resisting being in the ‘right’ relationship.

This takes the focus off us looking closer to home and asking why we are persisting because we’re too busy immersing ourselves in their problems.

By giving them our power we don’t want to hold ourselves accountable or be forced to take action.

But the only way you are going to stop being isolated and start having better relationships is to feel the fear but opt out of the cycle anyway and put yourself in charge of not only your own happiness, but defining who you get to be.

This is not about you snatching control and then dominating him – in fact, this isn’t even about him!

Healthy relationships don’t have one person dominating from a position of emotional control, whether they assumed the control or were handed it.

Yes in being committed to someone, each party has the power to hurt the other, but that is the side effect of risking yourself and your emotions. It doesn’t however mean that someone has to play on that power and do things on a habitual basis that hurt you.

This is all the more reason to choose people who respect, love, care about, and trust you, behaving with integrity and decency, otherwise you’re putting emotional power in the hands of someone that will abuse it.

When I had to lift myself out of the isolation of being involved with the Mr Unavailable who had a girlfriend, I realised that being trapped in my fears about what might or might not happen, no matter what he was doing (moaning about my male and female friendships, work, telling me no-one will love me like he does etc), I was actually allowing myself to internalise what I knew to be wrong and isolating myself.

The difference between me being isolated in that relationship and me making the decision to extricate myself is that I forced myself to park the feelings of fear and focus on letting my thoughts being dictated by the evidence of what I had experienced from the relationship.

The immediate effect is that a great gaping divide was created between his words and the actuality of our relationship.

Even if the annoying, nagging, internal voice of fear tries to jump in, in being evidence focused, it becomes evident that the other person is very, and I mean, very distant from the reality of their words and actions.

I was afraid he’d leave his girlfriend and think that I was no longer interested. The reality was that he hadn’t left his girlfriend when I’d been loyal and doe eyed, I was sick of his behaviour and wasn’t actually interested anymore because he made me incredibly unhappy and uneasy.

I wrote down a list of the pros and cons of staying and my pros were paltry and pathetic and my cons were alarming and lengthy – saying you love someone really isn’t enough.

Yes I was afraid of what he’d say, his reaction, dealing with his calls, emails, texts etc but the reality is that I had to keep my feet firmly in reality and distance myself from his verbal diarrhoea.

And actually, that’s what it amounted to – verbal doo doo. Years later, his situation hasn’t really changed whilst because I wouldn’t allow my fear to be bigger than me, mine has infinitely changed for the better.

The key in the shift in the dynamics in this relationship though is not doing what they expect.

We teach people how to treat us and what to expect and when you’re the isolated party, the dynamic is heavily reliant on you always doing what they have come to expect.

They are used to you reacting to what they say and do with fear that allows the status quo of the relationship to continue. Or they are used to you internalising everything and reacting to it in a way that allows them to have the power in the relationship.

You have to gradually stop doing what they expect.

Whether they expect it because they have dictated it and you’ve obliged, or they expect it because you have behaved and given to the level that they have been taught to believe this is how you behave, it is time for them to learn to expect something different.

We have this misguided idea that if we appeal to someone’s ‘good nature’ and expect common decency that no matter how they’ve behaved, ‘poof’, one day they will just suddenly decide to be all that we profess to want them to be and we’ll live happily ever after in the relationship we’ve imagined that will follow this ‘poof’ moment.

I’d guess again because you’ll be a long time waiting!

If you take twenty calls a week, start taking fifteen, and drop the amount of calls week by week.

Instead of agreeing to meet him or have him come around immediately, say you’re busy, even if you’re sitting at home twiddling your thumbs doing cold turkey.

Let calls go to voicemail. If they’re the type that leave rude voicemails, turn the service off.

If they send emails, ignore them by putting a filter on them that sends them straight to junk mail or to a special folder. Don’t forget that you can, depending on your service provider, block text messages/calls.

Go for the get out plan to gradually extricate yourself out of the relationship or go full throttle with the No Contact Rule and cut the dialogue between you.

If you’re nervous about going out, start meeting up with people for lunch and then build up to going out on evenings.

Start to build bridges with family and friends that you have broken the link with. No it’s not easy but neither is the option of being alone and isolated. It’s a lot harder to leave a relationship when you think that there is no-one you can spend time around.

I’m not suggesting you hang out with people that you don’t like or they don’t like you, but often when we cut off, there’s at least one person out there that’s gutted at our absence from their lives. Put your pride aside with them because you could do with having more pride about yourself and the relationship that you’ve been isolated in.

Tell someone about your relationship. Isolation is heavily reliant on secrecy and or the person feeling that no-one will understand or that they’ll be judged.

Stop denying the reality of your relationship and how you feel. There’s no point in sticking in disbelief or lala land – you have to acknowledge and accept what has been happening, the isolation, your own behaviour and theirs.

The reason why they have the power and you are still there isolating yourself is that you’re trying to make things and him different.

You want to turn the pain into joy. You want to turn the feeling of failure into success. But trying to extract joy out of something that has caused you pain for so long is a tainted experience.

Success isn’t trying to make someone who doesn’t see you or your value suddenly recognise it. The success comes from realising that when someone wants to be with you, they don’t spend their energies resisting you or putting you through emotional hell.

Instead of wondering what you can get them to do that will ‘make’ everything better, ask yourself: what can I do to get out of this situation?

Bearing in mind that what you have been doing has not been working, continuing to do more of the same in the hope that the situation will miraculously change is relationship insanity.

Distance yourself from their behaviour. Look at what you can deal with about you and recognise that they don’t define you and that their version of things is rather distorted.

If his version of you and the reality of you are worlds apart, he doesn’t know you and it is beyond your time and capacity to try to force him to see what’s in front of him.

Get up and start doing the things that you’re afraid of. Start small and build up.

At the end of the day, the proof is in the pudding. We’re often terrified of what ‘might’ happen if we opt out or challenge the status quo, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. At least you deal with the reality rather than the imagined, which is often disproportionate.

If you keep opting into what they say and the cycle of your relationship with them, then only more of the same can follow, isolating you even further.

Get ahead on understanding waste of space men and relationships with my ebook, Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl. Find out more and download. If you need personal advice or analysis of your relationship/situation, check out my consultation service.

Natalie Lue is the founder and writer of Baggage Reclaim and author of the books Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl, The Dreamer and the Fantasy Relationship and more. Learn more about her here and you can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter – @baggagereclaim .

Natalie (NML) – who has written posts on Baggage Reclaim by Natalie Lue.


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103 Responses to Becoming isolated in relationships – Part Three

  1. Aega says:

    @Meant – I know exactly what you mean about the “Give Me A Reason To Stay” song. And no, it doesn’t sound like a “what have you done for me lately?” (that would be Janet Jackson and where’s depth in that??) We never really shared songs but I have a definitely coffee-house-chick-with-guitar taste in music and try not to subject any men to it…

    We do have a “friendly competition” going indeed and I like your same-day NC sisters term, it has a certain ring to it, doesn’t it. :-) I will need all the motivation I can get to finish out my weekend here.

    I know what you mean by the dark cloud in the house, too, because my father used to get depressed and when he hit that mood he would pretty much disconnect from the world. It’s great that you can see the effect it would have on your daughters and take the initiative to keep them away from the negativity. My mom never used to, and I remember being a kid and wondering why my dad was mad at me.

    I understand sticking it out in the marriage, or at least some form of it, if the living arrangements work and you would consider working on the relationship further. I have less at stake (meaning no kids) and still can’t make up my mind to leave even though the attraction isn’t there anymore.

    I think I’m still in NC. MSN is erased and he stopped sending the “band-aid” emails and texts. But. There is a big but. He sent me a long email just a little while ago and I read it. I’m not going to do anything about it because I completely agree with aphrogirl that this is like trying to beat a drug addiction, and slip-ups just cause painful setbacks. To his credit, it’s very unassuming, it explains things and he isn’t asking for anything. I shouldn’t have read it just the same because my stomach goes on strike whenever I get upset and it had a lot of picketing to do after this.

    Have you read NML’s latest post yet? I’ve read it a few times already and I’m particularly moved by the last sentence in it.

  2. Meant to be Happy says:

    @Aega –I checked out all your songs, and could relate to most of them. Thanks for sharing.

    I’d like to suggest you check out Katie Thompson’s MySpace page – there are songs to click on over to the right – “What Turns you on” and “It Doesn’t Hurt” (oh, and “Birthday, too – maybe all!) remind me of the exMM, and help me to remember what I mean to him (the first song suggests “an accessory” – how isolating is that?). She is a chick with a piano instead of a guitar, lol, but see what you think.

    http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewProfile&friendID=4794457

    There are also some nice versions of “It Doesn’t Hurt” on youtube, including some with dancers. Some of Imogen Heap’s songs are good, too. (Hide and Seek, Good Night and Go) Oh, and Katie Melua – Piece by Piece. Sorry, I will stop now – I just love music, and could give a huge list!!!

    I am hoping that my girls are not *too* affected by their father’s depression, but of course they can’t be completely shielded, and there is bound to be *some* effect.

    You said “I think I’m still in NC” – but you opened his email and read it. I think NML would say you are not in full NC, as he is still communicating with you and it is making it through to your heart and mind, so there is potential for hurt there (which your stomach is already telling you). Please, please, don’t reply to it!! hmm, maybe you shouldn’t listen to “it doesn’t hurt” – it may hit too close to home for you right now. Maybe “Kristiana’s” (?sp) “Goodbye” would be better.

    I have read over NML’s latest post, but haven’t digested it completely. I’ll “see” you over on the comments for that one soon :)

    • NML says:

      Baggage Reclaim now has its own social network where you can create groups and set up forum topics and even chat with other members. This has been set up so that lengthier more personal discussions can take place without causing disruption to the comments.

      I have now reopened comments on this post – please ensure that comments are on topic and in line with the guidelines which are highlighted at the top of the comments box. Thanks

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