Karen quickly ran up the back stairs, anxious to avoid Sarah. Sarah asked incessantly about Mark and how the relationship was going and what they were doing and where they were headed. At first, Karen was happy to share, to revel in her relationship with Mark along Sarah, who seems as excited as Karen was. But now things weren’t going to well.
Mark was becoming increasingly distant. The things he used to like he didn’t seem to like as much anymore. Just this past week, he’d actually gotten upset that she’d made him dinner on Tuesday, saying he’d told her he’d be watching the game with his brother that night. He accused her of always doing that — not paying attention to what he told her and planning her own activities. All the work she had put into dinner didn’t seem to matter to him; he had gone to watch the game with his brother, even though she’d offered to bring the meal to his house. The thought of Mark doing things and having fun without her was unsettling. She wanted to do everything with him and desperately wanted him to feel the same way. Why didn’t he?
Every human relationship has ups and downs because people do not stay on an even keel at all times. That is impossible. However, in relationship dependency, as in other types of addictions, the ups and downs of life become artificially steep. In substance abuse, the effect of the substance on the limbic system and dopamine production creates drug-enhanced highs and system-suppressed lows. With relationship dependency, the stability of the relationship is compromised by the person’s dependency traits.
Instability in the relationship becomes as assured as the house winning in a gambling addiction. The dependent person sets up conditions for pleasure that are impossible to maintain, guaranteeing failure and the distress that accompanies those failures.
If you struggle with dependency issues in relationships, you may jump to dire conclusions when a relationship hits a rough patch. A forgotten activity becomes a metaphoric slap in the face. An offhand comment becomes the prelude to a breakup. A trivial difference of opinion becomes proof the person is preparing to leave. Just as you determine the conditions that create pleasure, you also determine the conditions that constitute disaster.
When disaster seems imminent and assured, your behaviors may escalate and you may feel yourself spinning out of control. You may find yourself losing the relationship and returning to emotional and even physical pain.
Authored by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE and author of 37 books. Pioneering whole-person care nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Jantz has dedicated his life’s work to creating possibilities for others, and helping people change their lives for good. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety and others.
The way to start relationship recovery is to take a step of faith. The late Corrie ten Boom is credited with saying, “Faith is like radar that sees through the fog.” Living a life enmeshed in the throes of dependency can be like living in a relational fog. The fears and behaviors of dependency obscure the truth about all of your relationships – with self, others, and God.
The quotation from Corrie ten Boom is especially appropriate for the journey of recovery because, you’ll note, she does not say that faith removes the fog. Rather, she says that faith acts like radar that sees through the fog. Entrenched patterns of thought, and the actions of those compel, will not dissipate overnight. Recovery is a journey whose destination, but not path, is fog-free.
As you make the journey to your fog-free destination, you will struggle with fog. However, the hope is that you are now more aware the fog exists, more aware of where much of the fog comes from, and have reached the realization that, with faith, you can find your way through.
Below are ten questions you can answer that will serve as a road map to better understanding relationship dependency. The truthful, open, and transparent answers you give can also serve as a road map for others you may be working with on your relationship dependency issues, whether a friend, a pastor, or a therapist.
- What are your most significant past relationships, along with the most significant relationships now?
- Do you find yourself focusing your attention and effort on solving other people’s problems?
- If something goes wrong in your life, do you feel personally responsible?
- Do you try hard to fulfill the expectations other people have of you, and do you feel like a failure if you aren’t able to meet those expectations?
- If someone expresses an opinion that differs from yours, how do you react?
- How do you feel when you’re alone?
- Do you ever remember a time in your life when you felt abandoned?
- What characteristics do you look for in a relationship?
- When you suspect a relationship may be ending, what do you do to keep it going?
- If a relationship ends, how long does it take for you to enter into another relationship?
Take time to recognize some personal patterns of dependency and how these patterns can negatively affect your relationships. The fog of dependency may take some time to be lifted, but hopefully you’re aware the fog exists—a fog that obscures your view of what positive relationships can be.
Our team at The Center • A Place of HOPE specializes in uncovering the layers of relationship dependency that may have accumulated over time. We specialize in whole person care—in understanding the full dimensions of an individual, and the life script that brought them to where they are today. Each person that comes to The Center • A Place of HOPE is unique, which means that their recovery journey will be equally unique. We are ready to help you on this journey to uncover your true, healthy, happy self. If you are ready to take the first step on this journey, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak with a recovery specialist today.