I listen to people talk about their relationships a lot, and whether they’re waxing lyrical about how great the other person is and signposting conversations with ‘key selling points’ about them, or lamenting the loss of a relationship, they all have ‘hooks’ that form the basis of what ties them to the person and their perception of the relationship.
Much like how we use our beliefs to basically create a ‘story’ of why we are and are not capable of something, the purpose of ‘hooks’ are to act as conscious and subconscious ‘stories’ that we tell ourselves as to why we are with someone, why we think we feel so much for someone, and why we struggle to let go of the relationship.
These ‘hooks’ are what you will cling to as reasons to:
1) feel attracted to them,
2) justify your emotional and sexual investment in them,
3) to put them on a pedestal,
4) make excuses for them,
5) yo-yo back and forth when you struggle to let the relationship go…even when you should.
I’m always fascinated by descriptions (also excuses) that, for instance, readers give of their Mr Unavailables and assclowns. They talk about how powerful they are, good looking, great in bed, good at their job, authoritative, spontaneous, shares the same interests, liked by everyone, goes to church, kind to old ladies, loves animals, runs their own company, has a few kids, tall, sexy, enigmatic, has a heap of problems, misunderstood, and yada, yada, yada. I immediately get a sense of what hooks these people into their relationships, and I can assure you, it’s rarely anything to do with shared values, the meat of healthy, sustainable relationships.
Hooks will become your ‘blind spots’ because they affect your ability to see the person in their entirety because you instead, allow these hooks to carry so much weight that they distort your perception of the relationship, them and even you.
They will cause you to verbally and mentally say ‘But….’
But he’s so busy at work.
But he’s got a lot of issues he needs to deal with.
But he’s so good looking….so no wonder he struggles to commit himself to me.
But she’s been hurt before.
But she’s so beautiful.
But he’s so amazing in bed and I’ve never had that connection with someone else.
But he ‘gets’ me.
While the ‘hooks’ are true to an extent, they’re often exaggerated either in terms of the ‘greatness’ of the hook (But he’s such a Good Man) or the relative importance to the relationship (He’s so powerful) and some of them, when put to the test are misplaced assumptions that don’t hold up to the harsh realities.
As I’ve explained before about how people use their own interpretations of compatibility, ‘type’, and common interests and often ‘hook’ themselves on inconsequential stuff that adds little or no value to the actual relationship, the reason that this happens is because we consciously and subconsciously make assumptions about people based on what we believe someone who possesses some of the key qualities and characteristics that we think are attractive will be or do.
We latch or ‘hook’ ourselves onto something and then based on being attracted to it, we correlate it to the rest of the person and assume that they will possess other qualities and characteristics that someone we believe is ‘right’ for us will possess.
Of course this is a blind and misguided assumption because, for instance, it’s wonderful that you both share an interest in hang gliding, eating fois gras, reading high brow books, and reading The Times, but this doesn’t mean that they are ‘the same’ as you, or that they share the same values, or even that they’re a decent person. It doesn’t mean that they are able to commit or emotionally available.
The trouble comes if you cloak yourself in illusions and allow yourself to be hijacked by your assumptions and are not actually sanity checking them against the reality of who the person is.
You will love and trust blindly and be so embedded with the ‘hooks’ that it will be difficult to see the wood for the trees.
Status – Position, standing, popularity, fame, money, authority, power. You perceive your status to increase in their presence, so of course, letting them go will cause you to feel diminished. You’re the type of person that will also say stuff like ‘But he’s a Good Man’ even if he hasn’t treated you very well.
Security – Money, family, perceived ability to commit, their presence, having a title. You convince yourself that whatever it is that you think that they bring to the relationship or give you the ability to have, that you can’t do without them.
Sex & Passion – Drama, spontaneity, excitement, great in bed, sexual chemistry and attraction, ‘best you’ve ever had’ syndrome. You’re the type of person that could feel hooked on someone and believe they are right for you based on instant attraction. Even though you may complain about it, you like the up and down of the relationship, the ‘drugs’ that make you feel like you’re on a high.
Pain & Problems (Sympathy & Control) – They put you on a pedestal. When you see that they are in pain or have issues, you feel needed and see the opportunity to fix, heal, and help.
Propensity (or lack of) to Commit – You’re either eager for commitment and don’t really care who it comes from, you just want to be in a relationship. Or…the moment that you realise that they’re not commitment material is the more interested and pseudo committed you are.
Disinterest & Rejection – You feel most drawn to a person when their interest is not returned or they cause you to feel rejected in the relationship. The less they want you, the more convinced you are that you want them.
Appearance – You base your perception of them on superficial stuff that you use as a basis to make assumptions about their suitability as a partner. You’re the type of person that could be blinded by beauty.
Validation & Righteousness – Positioning yourself in situations where you let yourself be reliant on them for confirmation of your worthiness. Or you’re the type of person that likes to be right and will die on your sword trying to prove your rightness, rather than leave things be.
Plans – They talk about things that they would like to do with you and even when they don’t materialise, you feel invested in the relationship because you talked about these plans and you want them to be delivered. It’s like ‘Only people who are serious about you talk about plans so they must have been serious about me so I’m going to make these plans happen because they said so’.
Interest – They showed you interest so you feel compelled to return the interest, feeling near grateful for it.
Connection – Sex, common interests, sense of humour, similar jobs, backgrounds, childhoods.
Fantasy – Getting caught up in having the relationship in your head. Certain things trigger your propensity to fantasise and get hijacked by your imagination. You get hooked when you really can create something in your head.
Regret – Trapped in blame and shame, you obsess about them and the relationship which is basically looking for reasons to blame yourself for why they don’t want you.
It’s important to know what your ‘hook’ is because in knowing what your blind spot is, you immediately become aware of where you need to be more realistic and conscious to ensure that you don’t put yourself at risk by loving and trusting blindly around these areas. The best thing you can do is see beyond the ‘hook’ and assess the truth of it.
Is this thing that you attribute so much weight to, really that important? Does it actually exist? In real terms, how much does this ‘hook’ benefit you and the relationship?
Much like I say with common interests and other superficial things that we often wax lyrical about, it is all about what these things actually add to the relationship.
Unless whatever it is that ‘hooks’ you to this person actually positively impacts you and the overall relationship in the medium and long-term, there’s basically no point in going on about it.
If what hooks you to someone is basically something negative that impacts on your self-esteem and the ability to have a healthy relationship with boundaries, shared values, and love, care, trust, and respect, you need to kick the habit and address the source of the negativity so that you can unhook yourself.
One of the easiest ways to unhook yourself – take them off their pedestal and put them on the same level as you and see them as a whole, not just the things that suit you. See them with their good points and bad points, flaws and everything and assess the realities and genuine importance of the things that bind you – you may find that when you stop focusing on one or a few things and start seeing them as a whole, that you recognise what they are and are not capable of.
I remember one of my ‘hooks’ with the guy with the girlfriend was ‘connection’. Like a lot of Fallback Girls, I couldn’t stop going on about what an amazing connection we had and convinced myself I’d never love again. That connection kept me going back until I started looking at it a lot more closely. We weren’t actually great friends (I’d hope a friend would treat me a lot better), the sex while it was great wasn’t worth feeling like I did (sex without the rest of what makes a relationship healthy is like shagging a hollowman), while we had some shared background and I felt sorry for him, it was all too One Time in Bandcamp and he took no responsibility for his actions, and actually, after thinking that we had so much in common, we really had very little in common.
Hooks have you exaggerating the importance of these things to you. If you reflect on them and have an honest conversation with yourself, you’ll stop giving so much weight to them and unhook yourself. If you’re going to hold on to something or someone, at least hold on to them in reality and for reasons that you can foster a healthy, mutually fulfilling relationship out of. Anything else is surplus to requirements and will have you cloaking yourself in denial, and that gets you nowhere. Don’t give someone more power than they have and certainly not more power than they’ve earned.
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