Boys who are be­ing boys cause mar­ried woman

Prince Albert Daily Herald - - OPINION - Gwen Ran­dall-Young

More than ever be­fore, peo­ple speak in terms of ‘work­ing on’ re­la­tion­ships. This means if they are not happy in the re­la­tion­ship, be it a mar­riage, friend­ship or fam­ily con­nec­tion, they care enough to try to make it bet­ter. This is a good thing, most of the time. No one can ar­gue with putting some en­ergy into mak­ing it work. If both peo­ple are emo­tion­ally healthy, re­spect­ful of the in­di­vid­u­al­ity of the other, and able to main­tain healthy bound­aries, they should see good re­sults.

Un­for­tu­nately, some­times the best of in­ten­tions can back­fire, for rea­sons be­yond your con­trol. This can hap­pen when you are in­volved with some­one who needs to use you to ful­fill deep emo­tional needs, but may or may not be con­sciously aware of it.

Let’s look at an ex­am­ple. You meet some­one with whom you have a lot in com­mon. A friend­ship de­vel­ops, and you feel very pos­i­tive about it. Things go well for a while, but then slowly at first, your friend may be­come cold and dis­tant. At first, there may be de­nial that any­thing is wrong. Ul­ti­mately, you find that the friend is hurt or an­gry, be­cause you did not meet some ex­pec­ta­tion that they had. You may feel badly, and re­dou­ble your ef­forts to be a good friend. You then start to an­tic­i­pate how the friend will feel about things, and al­ter your be­hav­ior ac­cord­ingly. You are now trapped in the sticky web of code­pen­dency.

This web re­quires one per­son who truly wants oth­ers to be happy, per­haps even more than they want that for them­selves, and another who ex­pects oth­ers to make him or her happy. Re­sent­ment be­gins to build within you, be­cause what once was freely given , now seems to be de­manded, and in even greater amounts. Be­cause you are one who likes to make things work, you find your­self spend­ing more and more time ‘pro­cess­ing’ the re­la­tion­ship with this per­son.

What nei­ther of you may rec­og­nize is that you have be­come the un­wit­ting vic­tim of another’s need to play out un­re­solved hurts from the past. When you be­gin to feel the frus­tra­tion of the un­re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tions placed upon you, and try to pull back from the re­la­tion­ship, you en­ter another level of crazi­ness. The code­pen­dent may sud­denly be­come very friendly, lov­ing, even re­morse­ful. You may even be told that you are the only one who re­ally un­der­stands him or her. There is a prom­ise that things will be dif­fer­ent. They will: but just un­til you are lulled into fall­ing back into the trap again. The cy­cle re­peats again and again, of­ten with more in­tense con­fronta­tion each time.

You may not un­der­stand why, but the code­pen­dent thrives on the con­fronta­tion with you. It gives them the op­por­tu­nity to vent all of their hurts and anger from the past. For some, emo­tional en­tan­gle­ment is bet­ter than feel­ing ig­nored. Next week, we will look at strate­gies for deal­ing with such re­la­tion­ships.

Gwen Ran­dall-Young is an au­thor and award­win­ning Psy­chother­a­pist. For per­mis­sion to re­print this ar­ti­cle, or to ob­tain books, cds or MP3’s, visit www.gwen.ca. Fol­low Gwen on Face­Book for daily in­spi­ra­tion.

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