Why is it easier to break up with a good, caring, loving partner than a bad one? Why even think about this person who treated us badly for weeks or even months.
If this question is on your mind, fear not, you are not alone. Luckily for people who have never been in that kind of relationship, you will never understand why one would long for a toxic lover. But there are many psychological reasons why we struggle to let go of our toxic ex.
Everyone has a different view of what constitutes a toxic relationship, but they all have one thing in common: you feel bad. A relationship is meant to enrich your life, so if one of your relationships leaves you feeling empty, misunderstood, or unsupported, it could be a toxic relationship.
According to writer and researcher specializing in complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD), Quinn Clark, a toxic relationship is one that causes great distress, due to the behavior of one or more people in the relationship. . “This distress can be caused by physical, emotional or mental abuse, manipulation, lying, deception, ridicule, assault, humiliation or coercion,” he explained.
This can lead to unhealthy behavior patterns including codependency, which is a dynamic where one person dominates and the other is submissive with a cycle of anger and fear that is temporarily fixed by bombardment with love.
The Good Broken Relationship
Not all toxic relationships start out badly. At first, your partner may lend you love, care, and affection (which may just be love bombing, but it’s hard to find at the time) and then change their behavior to something negative. .
In doing so, there is a fear of doing something wrong and “breaking a good relationship”. In this case, we need to fix it, which will encourage us to work hard to find the right relationship.
The fear of being alone
If you don’t think you deserve a healthy relationship, you can hold on to what you have, even if the relationship in question isn’t satisfying. “We are more likely to continue trying, or hoping, to ‘fix’ a toxic relationship when we have low self-esteem and think the relationship is the best we can ask for. “When we think that we are not good enough, smart enough, attractive enough, our ideas about trying to get others to be nice to us or treat us well can fuel our ideas,” says Sarah Lee. , psychotherapist who specialist in childhood trauma and CPTSD.
By following this idea, we can hold onto even terrible relationships because we are afraid of being alone.
The personal investment
In the business world, being more likely to sustain a business if you invest time, money or effort in it is called “sunk cost”. This concept also applies to relationships.
“It’s really hard to let go of something when you feel like you’ve spent so much time on it,” says celebrity psychic Chris Riley. Often we feel like we can’t let go of someone because we have hope that it will get better, sometimes we cling to one or two special moments, which prevent us from moving away. »
A familiar relationship
Some people find it difficult to let go of toxic relationships because they are familiar with them, as we are programmed to think that conflict is normal.
According to trauma psychotherapist Charlotte Pardy MA, at some point the toxic elements of a relationship become normal to us. “Things like the belief that love is conditional, that some level of aggression or lack of emotion is normal in a relationship, that control, criticism and competition should be expected in relationships” .
Normalization can begin in childhood. It can come, for example, from parents: everything is fine and the next minute everything is reversed. Maybe they are violent. It is also possible that we are trying so hard that they perceive us as useless and just think that we are not important.
“When you experience trauma at a young age and maybe have a narcissistic parent, loved one or someone at a young age, we are always surrounded by so much drama and negativity that we are close to it accept,” explained Chris.
From super sweet and hot to hell on earth, toxic relationships take turns and often when you least expect it. So we want more, hoping to find the warmth of his partner. Unpredictability is exhausting but very addictive. This is called “intermittent reinforcement”.
“That’s why people play slot machines,” said Sarah. “We don’t know if we’ll get the ‘good version’, but we keep hoping this time will be different.”
In some cases, the toxic relationship is also caused by some problems experienced by one or more people. If someone has issues with mental health, money or addiction, for example. Failure to track and address these issues can cause the person in question to become emotionally unstable.
We are human and these situations affect us. Avoiding it makes us feel guilty. It must be remembered that sometimes we cannot help and save everyone. And that sometimes you have to help yourself first.
If you’ve dated someone who manipulated you, they may have convinced you that you were responsible. He takes advantage of your empathy to keep you close to him. To break away from this type of relationship, you have to do the work that can be difficult. Trauma has complex effects on the brain.
When a person is traumatized by something, the brain always wants to be in a state of stability. In principle, the partner is a stable condition. Despite the violence, you will be convinced that he is the best choice.
“Moving from a predictable environment of abuse to the unknown is very terrifying; it is only after the fact that we are able to understand how terrible these toxic relationships are, because we adapt to a new, safer normal that we didn’t know existed before” explained Quinn Clark.
If, during a toxic relationship, there is abuse, our body is in a permanent state of alertness. Faced with danger, our protective instincts are activated, it is very tiring. Yet many traumatized people stay in abusive relationships because the abuse is predictable. This is recurring and therefore part of normality.
Breakups can feel like a failure. We may be ashamed or ashamed to separate. Breaking up with an abuser is harder because you have to deal with your friends again. An abusive person convinces you that they want you well and gradually reduces your circle of close friends.
In doing so, when it’s time to get out of the relationship, it’s especially hard to deal with the shame of seeing friends again and admitting that the relationship isn’t healthy.