Going to Las Vegas with a duffle bag full of cash is exciting. Doing 200 mph on a Kawasaki Ninja without a helmet is definitely exciting. Having sex in a Burger King bathroom? No doubt. Smoking meth, strong-arm robbery, and arson are relatively exciting pastimes as well. However, none of these activities are particularly advisable for your health, happiness, and wellbeing. The same could be said about toxic relationships.
People are attracted to excitement because it makes them feel alive. The anticipation, the mystery, the thrill of the chase. Novelty. Risk. The emotional rollercoaster, drama, and attention. What a rush! And yet, this attraction can get us into trouble – especially when we base our romantic relationships on such urges.
Having Chemistry With Someone
People sometimes date a new person and say that they “have chemistry” because they both own chihuahuas, enjoy the outdoors, and practice yoga. Or whatever. Sure, shared interests – that’s great!
But folks frequently use the word chemistry to describe an unexplainable, often uncontrollable, visceral attraction to another person. This can happen when their broken pieces match your broken pieces. In such cases, “chemistry” can quite literally be a neurological chemical cocktail released in the brain before engaging in crazy ass behavior. It’s the feeling of gearing up to galavant through the untamed jungles of unhealthy emotional entanglement, once again. This type of chemistry is the wonderful adrenaline boost that nature gives you in case you need to karate chop a motherfucker and swing from a chandelier to escape if things get too loco.
Why People Prefer Crazy Chemistry
Crazy chemistry is a cheap thrill. It doesn’t require skill or discernment, patience, or prudence. You don’t need to heal, grow, or face your fears. You don’t need therapy or self-awareness. In fact, crazy chemistry is most delectable when you are unskilled, impatient, undiscerning, broken, and afraid. Then it’s like finding a hundred dollar bill in a crackhouse. Like “Awe man, this is fantastic!”
One can actually cultivate the fine art of manufacturing chemistry out of thin air. Have you ever looked back at any of your exes and asked yourself, “What the hell was I thinking?” I know exactly what you were thinking, hahaaaaa. I’ve been there before. And I’ve got the scars to prove it (see Falling in Love with Falling in Love).
But for real, it’s basically free drugs. This is why being addicted to toxic relationships is usually a more conservative financial investment than taking up cocaine or heroin. However, street drugs are cash commodities for the most part, and I’ve seen love addicts run up some hefty credit card debt. But that’s neither here nor there.
Why People Can’t Stop / Won’t Stop
People continue to create dysfunctional, unsustainable, and ultimately unsatisfying relationships for a few reasons:
1) Toxic relationships can be sooo exhilarating! Honestly, who doesn’t love a good romp in the uninhibited emotional whirlwinds of unboundaried enmeshment? Did you ever play “tag” as a child? You touch someone, say, “You’re it,” then run away squealing like an idiot while they chase after you. It’s amazing!
2) Toxic relationships are the perfect smokescreen for emotional immaturity and unhealed wounds. People who are terrified to face their trauma, issues, baggage, insecurities, and inadequacies can hide out in these relationships indefinitely where they will never be required to heal or show up as a healthy, equal partner.
3) Many people legitimately have no clue what they’re doing. They were abused, neglected, enmeshed, or abandoned as children and don’t know shit from apple butter about healthy intimacy. And they’re either completely oblivious, too proud or too afraid to ask for help (see You Don’t Deserve Better).
All three of these driving forces usually stay beneath the conscious level, either out of sheer ignorance or willful denial. They pose dangerous threats to one’s self-esteem, worth, and identity, so the ego’s survival mechanisms of suppression and dissociation make perfect sense.
But the fact remains: shitty relationships make your life suck.
How to Break the Cycle
First and foremost, we have to acknowledge our wounds. Be like, “Yeah, my parents had the emotional intelligence of a ham and cheese sandwich, and that’s why I don’t know how to have healthy relationships.” Boom. Now you can start healing. If we keep beating around the bush, lying to ourselves, or trying to hide our weaknesses so we can look strong, pretty, or put-together, we will never heal. We have to talk about it. Get the poison out. Shine some light on the darkness (see Healthy Starts with “Heal”).
This is the whole purpose of my blog and Instagram account. They are platforms for the open discussion of healing our deepest relational wounds – a discussion that usually cowers in the shadows of fear, pride, shame, and humiliation. If we don’t start talking about these things, we as a society will never get off the dysfunctional scary-go-round of widespread relationship mayhem.
I Don’t Wanna Break the Cycle – You Break the Cycle
How many people do you know with a long streak of toxic relationships? How many are sticking it out in a terrible relationship right now? Maybe they’re “staying together for the kids”? How many are clearly perpetuating past trauma and sickness on all of their partners? How many people are acutely aware of their shitty relationship patterns and are not doing a single thing about it?
Honestly, I can’t even count how many people I know who fall into one of these categories. It’s nearly everyone. So why aren’t more people talking about this? We’ve got to make it safe to have these conversations. It’s ridiculous that you can post a picture of your whole ass on the internet, but talking about healing is taboo.
We have to be brave. We have to be vulnerable. If we want to heal ourselves, our relationships, and humanity, it is our responsibility to start engaging in authentic dialogue. It’s also our responsibility to not shame, criticize, judge, or slander others who are trying their best to participate in the conversation. We have to make it cool to admit our challenges, embrace a productive struggle, and share our healing journeys. We have to make emotional intelligence trend like Kim Kardashian’s side boob. We’ve got to acknowledge the reality of our human condition before we can improve it.
I’m super passionate about this, and I realize it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you believe my message and support my mission, follow me on Instagram and subscribe to my blog (sign up below). Engage with the content. Leave comments, ask questions, tag your friends, share, repost, etc. Be part of the conversation. Break the silence and break the cycle. Join the healing community.