Any toxic relationship I’ve been involved in has always kept going because of my essentially cherry-picking what I wanted to remember about the person and the relationship, romantic or otherwise. While I spent most of my life feeling wounded by my father’s absence and the sporadic periods or even moments spent with him, what I mostly remembered was how I felt around him and the happy times. Of course, there were some, but I’d admittedly romanticised the hell out of them. I’d selectively remember spending visitations with him and how thrilled I always was to see him. However, I’d conveniently forget how we used to sit on the side of a cricket pitch or in some pub. I’d forget how I’d have to pretend that I didn’t want to spend real quality time with him. I wanted to be involved instead of being an observer or accessory.

I was a sucker for a returning Mr Unavailable.

Suddenly my resentment, hurt, frustration and all the things I’d identified as being unhealthy or unsuited to me were forgotten. Instead, I’d press the Reset Button. I’d return to the time before they first started showing signs of who they were and what was to come.

Each time one particular ex I dated on and off for four years and saw a handful of times a year phoned (this started around 1996/1997, so it was all landlines and radio silence in between), I only remembered possibilities. I focused on how I wanted to feel and what I perceived as his ‘good points’: tall, made me laugh, good-looking, clever, smelled of Polo Sport, good kisser. It clearly didn’t take much!

Here’s what I didn’t remember: he vanished after each date despite making out that we were imminently seeing each other again. He was also ridiculously ambiguous, sometimes pretentious, talked a lot and mostly about himself, and did a couple of really disingenuous things that communicated that I shouldn’t confide in him.

I also returned to a highly toxic relationship that left me anxious, unable to sleep, and questioning everything about me right down to my race. I’ve given out more chances to other exes because I forgot the downside of being with and around them.

Even if we focus on a person’s ‘good points’, we will always deal with the consequences of them coming as a full package.

This is ultimately where anyone who has ever tried to remain or get back together with somebody for the ‘good points’ ends up feeling the pain. They remain or go back because they’re blinded to the whole package because of wanting to reap the benefits of those points. These represent potential, and seeing the whole person represents disappointment. They wish they could extract these points and multiply them into being full time. In reality, the relationship disappointments happen at an increasing, real-time, full package cost that isn’t worth it.

Ever had a friend who gives your social life a boost or who appears to be supportive when you share your problems with them, only to find they put you down or do other shitty things to you? That right there is the problem with only seeing people in parts or points.

People can be more than one thing.

You might remind yourself about how they’re fun company, the people they introduce you to, or how you can talk to them about your family or whatever. Still, what price are you willing to pay? If you confide in someone who appears empathetic and supportive but then they use what you share or their perception of you to their advantage or to clobber you, that’s not friendship! You’re inadvertently giving this drainer the blueprints to eff you over!

Equally, it’s all very well remembering that you have someone around, you’re not single, when it’s on it’s so on, and they take you places, talk about plans, appear very remorseful and swear up and down that they’re never going to be or do whatever code red malarkey they did the last time and the time before, but that is a problem if when it’s off, it’s so very off that it’s dangerous to your well-being. You’re essentially destroying your sense of self.

One woman shared appalling stories of her ‘Chopper’ boyfriend’s behaviour towards her.

That he could be very charming, sweet, and apologetic and it felt like the time of her life when he wasn’t gaslighting, name-calling, cheating, and giving her a few slaps, kept her hopes alive that one day he’d feel motivated to cease what he was doing.

Here’s the thing though: When you’re in a healthy relationship, your partner being sweet, kind, caring, taking you places, apologising when they’ve erred and basically being in your life is a good thing. However, when a person takes advantage of or even abuses you, ‘sweetness’, ‘remorse‘, and time spent with you come from a different place. These also have a very high price. Of course, her now-ex is great at apologies, faux remorse, and wooing her back in with good times! How else is he going to sell the relationship to her?

Somebody who’s going to hurt you won’t let you in on the dark side of being with them.

Instead, they’ll use Future Faking, FastForwarding, and flattery and showboating in the initial stages of dating to sell themselves. Really, it’s like getting a low introductory offer with killer interest rates.

People come as full packages.

When we focus on the attractive and, yes, even imagined parts, we forget that everything else comes part and parcel with that person. They can’t dispose of their past, fears, motivations, beliefs, habits and whatever else just to give us the selected highlights. No matter how much a person tries to disguise who they are, who they truly are is self-evident as they unfold. All we need is to be awake and in our own space where we can differentiate between us and them instead of owning their feelings and behaviour.

 If we can't love a person for who they are, all we're really doing is loving them for who they're not, which means we're not really loving them at all.

If we take what we perceive as the ‘good’ and downgrade or even attempt to delete the relevance of the less palatable parts, we’re still getting the rest. All we’re doing is the equivalent of refusing the delivery of a parcel each time it shows up in our doorway. These parcels from the person and the relationship unfolding just pile up around your home until they’re too big to ignore. No matter how much we attempt to ignore this stuff, it becomes the key issue and decider of the relationship.

No person is perfect, but each person is whole.

Once we learn to accept people for who they are instead of trying to segment them into the picture we’ve painted in our minds, we consciously choose whether we are prepared to live with the consequences of what certain characteristics and behaviour bring into a relationship. We get very real about what is wonderful and not so wonderful. We get real about what matters and we also get real about who we are when we’re around that person.

Sometimes we are prepared to hang around because we tell ourselves that some crumbs are better than no crumbs. Maybe we believe we can live with the pain to get the highs. It’s vital to remember, though, that pain isn’t love; it’s pain. If we can’t love a person for who they are, all we’re really doing is loving them for who they’re not, which means we’re not really loving them at all.

Your thoughts?

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