Love can be scary. So scary that some of us will do whatever we can toget out of it! Sound crazy? It isn’t! While we may not be conscious ofour deeper motivations, when we do bad things in relationships – thingsthat even we are hard pressed to explain – it shows an unconsciousdesire to sabotage intimacy. The good news is, once you understand whatyou’re doing you can stop.
So if you’re that “crazy person” who does drive-bys to make sure your significant other’s not keeping other company… or if your lover is so “obsessed” that they hack into your email in an attempt to know your every move – then keep reading, and stop judging. Why? Because the behavior has to do with fight-or-flight.
Believe it or not, the impulse toward self-destruction is built into our DNA – as part of our fight-or-flight response. When relationships get difficult, and the difficulty seems insurmountable (physically, mentally or emotionally – thereby threatening our status quo), it’s our instinct to destroy them. The problem is that often the perceived threat (in this case, love) is not the actual problem – it’s the status quo that needs to change. Fear of connection, long-held beliefs about lovability or self-worth, and deep-seated insecurity are the sorts of emotions that motivate fight-or-flight, and result in self-destructive behavior in relationships.
The first step then, if you want to stop indulging these impulses, is to identify what they are.
Ask yourself a few questions
If your behavior is setting off alarm bells or causing problems in your relationship(s), then you may need to dig deep to find the cause. Ask yourself: What are you afraid of? What may have influenced your views of love? How do you feel about yourself? Are your fears founded in the reality of the present, or in an expectation you’ve built up based on the past? What usually motivates these episodes?Also, consider how you feel when you engage in these “bad” behaviors – in all likelihood, you feel worse for having gone there. That should tell you something in and of itself.
If your outbursts tend to be the problem, your relationship may be healthy otherwise. In this instance, you’ll likely find that the impulse to get drunk – or throw a fit, or make inappropriate advances at an inopportune moment – is not directly linked to your partner’s behavior. Rather, it’s your reaction to past experiences (such as being hurt, and the fear of having it happen again) that sends you into “self-destruct” mode. You’ll need to work through these building blocks of who you are in order to change your automatic reactions. But before you dig any deeper, take a deep breath.
You are not a bad person, or an abnormal one. We are all the product of conditioning – it just may be time to re-calibrate that conditioning. You can change the situation – and your inclinations toward self-destruction – by focusing on being present in the moment. Meanwhile, it may be worth it to seek counseling in order to speak about your emotions (and actions). Over time, you will come to understand and believe in your own intrinsic value, even if that seems impossible now. And your relationship may very well be salvageable.
Changing your situation
On the other hand, if your partner is behaving in a way that “causes” you to act this way (if they are unfaithful or abusive or dismissive – or trip any other stress-inducing trigger), then it’s time to take a deeper look at yourself and the relationship. Is it possible that you’re re-creating a situation over and over again? We’re all participants in our lives, after all, and those who fear that they are unlovable often create situations in which they won’t be loved. The subconscious logic is simple – by staying with negative partners, we confirm our deep-seated belief that we’re not worth real, healthy love. But the result is not a given. It’s a choice.
Rather than buying into your conditioned hypothesis, recognize that a pattern is actually your unconscious mind offering you chances to learn a lesson. And this time – learn it! Good people do bad things in all areas of life, but by continuing to indulge these impulses we’re not saving ourselves from anything. Rather, like a scorpion who will sting itself to death rather than catch fire, we’re destroying ourselves to avoid facing problems head-on. And in turn we’re killing our chances of finding true happiness – on our own, or as part of a pair!
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