As a severely emotionally damaged person, it is hard to get my head around the concept of love. I only know dysfunctional love, which in my book is no love at all. When I was thinking about this I could come up with two essential ingredients; trust and equal distribution of power.
To start with the latter, to establish equal distribution of power between 2 people they both need to be self-aware of their personal boundaries and immediately communicate to the other person when they approach a boundary, and off course when they cross it. Being self-aware is one thing, but then to communicate it in an assertive, but not aggressive way is much harder. It becomes even more complicated when you take into account that people are naturally lazy, I mean they usually choose the way of least resistance. So over time, people just can’t be asked and give in just to get some peace. But off course, this is totally counter-productive because from that point on the relationship will go out of canter, power wise. One person will start to dominate the other and if not corrected by both parties the relationship will become dysfunctional.
Another factor is behaviour patterns and habits which become more and more engrained over time. So when you struggle to stand up for yourself and have low self-esteem a pattern of behaviour can develop out of self preservation. For instance avoidance. So your partner is approaching your boundary, you give a warning, they ignore and step over your boundary and violate your space in some way. You don’t address the violation and ignore that it ever happened. Next time you don’t even give a warning, you allow your partner to cross the line unchallenged but you see it coming and you avoid the situation. This then becomes your survival technique. But the consequences of this behaviour is that the whole relationship is based on a lie, because you have not addressed your true feelings of being violated and your partner hasn’t checked if they have crossed your boundaries. When this becomes a pattern the relationship will develop in a dysfunctional way.
Then the issue of trust. For love to blossom there needs to be trust between two people. This also is hard work. One needs to trust the other, and the other needs to respect the trust one has entrusted onto him. This is a constant interaction between the couple. Both people need to be absolutely honest about their feelings and actions, and communicate this assertively. The problem is, if your trust has been violated from the start, by your own parents or carers you don’t trust anyone and you start to develop self-preservation type behaviour and patterns.
Now I have come as far as realising all this, and I acknowledge that my dysfunctional behaviour is for starters that I avoid having to be vulnerable. Being able to show vulnerability is important to gain trust. But I have learned as a child that when you show vulnerability you will get abused, killed, beaten. You don’t get trust. Because I was part of a dysfunctional family. So when I became an adult I was always attracted to manipulative, emotionally unavailable, needy and violent men. I always liked someone who needed ‘saving’, ‘rescuing’ or care in some way. Like alcoholics, drug users, people like that. But as soon as someone wanted to look after me, I was gone. I just felt so uncomfortable, it just never felt right. But then, as a child I have always had the role of parent. Parent to my mother, parent to my sister, parent to myself. When you are emotionally neglected as a child, this is how you develop. It is pure self-preservation.
Now though, I’m through with that. I don’t want to have that in my life. I want the real thing or be alone. But unfortunately if I want to break this pattern, I will have to show my vulnerable side, communicate my boundaries on time and accept care and attention. This notion scares the heebie-jeebies out of me, but I will have to find a way to do it, and test it out. So that’s where I am at. Wish me luck!