Bad relationships are like bad habits: So enticing and thrilling in the beginning. So addictive, youâ€™re hardly aware of the dangerously-building momentum. Next thing you know, youâ€™re hooked. There are no visible exits. You think youâ€™re â€œin love,â€ but only because you seem to have lost your mind, and youâ€™ve always heard that thatâ€™s what love is supposed to be like.
The usual reaction to this situation is to talk to your friends and family members. Filling them in on some of the details makes you feel more in control. Alas, all your friends seem able to do is offer the advice to â€œwake up and bail ship.â€
You argue that they donâ€™t understand, that this person is really special, says really sweet things from time to time, etc. You tell them you think you can change him or her for the better. Even if you donâ€™t say that, youâ€™re implying it by staying in the relationship in the first place.
Talking to your friends becomes what I like to call the â€œbalance drug.â€ The â€œupperâ€ you use to take the edge off the â€œdowner.â€ However, all drugs have their limits. Without really realizing it, youâ€™re sucking your friends dry.
This continues on, until the day your bad relationship inevitably comes to what first appears as a split, but is actually a pause. These pauses are the periods when you pretend that youâ€™ve found the strength to move on, or the (in)significant other has vocalized their need for space, usually to do shady things.
You tell all your friends itâ€™s over. Theyâ€™re all thrilled, of course. After crying a bit (or a lot) you make promises that you donâ€™t really realize youâ€™ll be breaking in a matter of days.
As with all addictions, relapse catalysts are like returned run-away dogs; they linger, hungry and barking, at the door. And sadly enough, all of us â€œexâ€-addicts canâ€™t seem to turn away from their old beloved pets. Theyâ€™re just so familiar and they need us, right? And so, we inevitably become dog food.
Hereâ€™s where things get even more complicated. As soon as you get back together with the dreaded him/her, you are usually scolded and/or abandoned by all but the best of your friends. They tell you they canâ€™t stand to see you get hurt again, you deserve betterâ€¦etc.
The second round usually ends sooner than the first. You cry on your two remaining friendsâ€™ shoulders. Then, the evil he/she wants one last chance. He/she even brings you flowers, or some other useless item that sparks a completely irrational shred of hope in you.
Before you know it, youâ€™re back where you began.
Except this time, you find yourself with no remaining friends. Your family canâ€™t manage to have a normal conversation with you. No one answers your calls.
Donâ€™t give up hope, yet. Things donâ€™t have to be this way; the next time around, you can end this ugly cycle. You can keep your friends during your next bad relationship, using my easy two-step plan. All it takes is a little restraint on your part, and a touch of false imagery. Nothing you havenâ€™t already had experience with, living with your parents as a teenager.
Step One: When you first realize youâ€™re about to embark on another sour affair, you need to consider all of your friends. Which are the most important to keep? Which have you secretly been hoping would fade away? When you settle upon one or two friends in the â€œto spareâ€ category, you are ready for the next step.
Step Two: Withhold all negative information about your significantly-bad other from the friends you want to remain close with. Retain a beautiful, romanticized faÃ§ade. Only disclose to them the brightest words that escape from your belovedâ€™s lips. Share with them the highest of the high moments.
Youâ€™ll be elated when your friends continue to call you. They may even invite you out on double-dates. If your unhealthy man/woman is charming in public, it is safe to accept these invitations. However, if your partnerâ€™s not so socially inclined, itâ€™s best to use excuses like, â€œOh, weâ€™re supposed to have dinner with his mom that night,â€ or, â€œSorry, weâ€™re going hiking with her brother that Saturday.â€ (Itâ€™s always a safe bet to include a member of his/her family in the plans; that way, your friends wonâ€™t invite themselves along.)
Meanwhile, you can call your one (or two or three) designated â€œspareâ€ friends all you want, giving them earfuls of the loony details of your private life. They might, at first, be into your choice to exclusively dish to them (you will swear them to secrecy), but after a while, theyâ€™ll probably start withdrawing from the friendship. Some will bow out earlier than others, which is why itâ€™s good to have more than one â€œspareâ€ friend. The really stellar spares will stick it out, making you aware of what a jerk you were for underestimating their value as friends.
However, if (and when) they disappear, thereâ€™s no need to worry. Youâ€™ll still have a bunch of untapped friends and family members remaining, regardless of the status of your relationship!
WORLD - AN EDGE IN MY VOICE
Copyright © 2010 Jessamyn Cuneo
How to Keep Your Friends and Your Bad Relationship
Copyright © 2010 Jessamyn Cuneo
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