C h e m i c a l/Romantic L O V E: T o x i c, addictive, yet the norm in our society

For my patient readers, and you, Jan…

Most women are taught that a relationship/marriage should be their ultimate goal, therefore making us co-dependent on men. Most men are taught that their success is measured by their career/monetary things, and therefore, they are co-dependent on their work/jobs. In both cases, the potential to be in an unhealthy relationship is high because it is completely normal in our society to desire a relationship that is either toxic, addictive, co-dependent, or even all of the aforementioned.

I promised in my”Being InLove vs Friendship”post that I would tackle this chemical and toxic love topic. It took longer than I anticipated it would because I wanted to come back with not just my own opinions and life experiences, but with cold hard facts.

Everything I have written about “love” all ties in together; perhaps you recall my”The Four Types of Love”entry in which I discussed Agape Love, the Love that we freely CHOOSE: once you understand what it means to have a toxic relationship, you will understand why it is impossible to practice Agape Love in such a situation.

Scientifically speaking, romantic love CAN BE totally chemically based. In a study done at Emory University, parts of the brain that are “inlove” include the one responsible for gut feelings, as well as the ones which generate the euphoric “high” induced by drugs, such as cocaine. So, the brains of people deeply inlove do not look like those of people who are experiencing strong emotions such as fear and anger, but instead like those of people sniffing coke. Love, in other words, uses the neural mechanisms that are activated during the process of addiction. We can become literally addicted to love (I can hear Robert Palmer singing!). Though romantic love FEELS good, it is unstable, and is NOT a good basis for child-rearing. But, the final stage of love, long-term attachment (do I hear “Storge Love” calling?), allows parents to cordially participate in raising children. This state, says Dr Fisher, of the Emory University study, is characterized by feelings of calm, security, social comfort and emotional union.

This is why I strongly believe that while romantic love gets you together initially, it is not enough to sustain a relationship: you need 1. commitment, and 2. the ability to move beyond the chemically induced feelings and incorporate some Phileo, Agape, and Storge Love into your relationship. And a heavy dose of Eros Love!

Moving onto the toxic issue, I had some help from the writings of Mr. Burney, who is the author of, “Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls”, and here are some facts on what toxic love is:

1. Obsession with a relationship
2. Neglecting your friends and your other interests
3. Pre-occupation with the other person’s behavior and/or fear that they will change
4. Placing constant blame and/or passive/aggressive manipulation
5. Jealousy and possessiveness
6. Trying to change the other person into your own image
7. You avoid anything unpleasant in the relationship
8. The expectation that your partner will always come and rescue you
9. Being obsessed with your partner’s problems and feelings
10. Pressure for sex because of insecurity, fear, or need for immediate gratification
11. Inability to be alone and/or being clingy
12. There is a constant pain and despair
13. You fight ALL THE TIME (not frequent little spats – huge fights several times per week, whether yelling is involved or not) or you NEVER fight

Here is what a normal, healthy relationship should look like/consist of mostly:
1. Development and growth of yourself as the first priority
2. Giving your partner room to expand and experience personal growth
3. Have separate interests, other friends, and meaningful relationships with other people
4. Appropriate trust – trusting your partner to behave by their fundamental nature
5. Compromising, taking turns at leading, solving problems together
6. Embracing each other’s individuality
7. The relationship deals with things in reality, not in delusional states
8. Self care by both partners – each person’s happiness is not extremely affected by their partner’s mood
9. Having a loving detachment – you have a healthy concern for your partner, yet you let go at the same time
10. Sex is a free choice that grows out of your care and friendship
11. Ability to be alone
12. You are content, but most of all, you always have a sense of comfort in your relationship, no matter what is going on

Nothing is ever wrong with wanting a relationship, companionship, or wanting to be married. What IS wrong is believing that you need another person in your life to be complete. There are certain things that we can only give ourselves that we cannot look for another human being to do for us – to expect a man or a woman to make you whole/complete/happy is like using that person as your drug supply, and that is NOT love, nor is it healthy and you will always end up feeling like a victim.

Society pushes this love, love, love down our throats – romantic love will fix everything: it cannot – it is not enough unless we incorporate all the different TYPES of love into our lives, not JUST the “knight in shining armour” kind of love.

And, lastly, for my fellow believers-in-God, this is how it all ties into Agape Love: God’s Agape Love for us is not driven and it is not compulsive. God CHOSE to love us; He did not NEED us to complete Himself. Grace, by definition, is that of CHOICE on God’s part to love the undeserving. Any love which is a driven, needed love, does not have it’s origin in God.

I encourage you to post any comments, positive as well as negative; I look forward to reading your thoughts. (smile)


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