The three vicious cycles of relationships

Life is full of cycles, and some are vicious. For most people, dating is one of the most vicious, and while every person’s is different, here are three of the most common:

Flightiness: You fall for someone so hard there is virtually nothing else on your mind. Your friends hear so many godlike renderings of this person they are begging to hear “Call Me Maybe” instead. You enjoy the initial thrill of romance, but once the honeymoon stage ends you become bored and restless, and all the flaws you missed become magically apparent. So you end the relationship and move on to the next object of lust so it all begins again.

Physical or verbal abuse can be a pattern in relationships. (Image: The Lamp)

Abuse: You meet someone who at first showers you with gifts and declarations of love, but soon your significant other becomes possessive and tries to control you. This can be physical abuse, verbal abuse or both. Your friends see something is the matter, but you refuse to listen or see what is happening right in front of your eyes. You claims you love the abuser, in whom there is good as well as bad, but you continue to be unhappy. Finally you’ve had enough and leave, only to move on to the next abuser.

Unrequited love: I fall into this cycle. You (and I) meet somebody and fall for them, believing this person would be absolutely perfect — and the only thing getting in the way of something happening is a tiny, niggling, detail: a boyfriend or girlfriend they already have, for instance, or their homosexuality. Or a mutual interest is expressed, but the other person is not putting any effort into the relationship or just has too much going on in their lives to truly focus on it. You remain convinced the relationship will work out. Once you finally come to terms with reality (with a little help from your friends), you are devastated but stubbornly hold out hope for things to work out. Then you meet the next person who is not attracted to you.

Although all these cycles are different, they show people stuck in ruts that can be frustrating in the best case and self-destructive in the worst case. Why do people continue to see their relationships as isolated incidents rather than recurring patterns? Do romance and thrill create blind spots that prevent us from learning from mistakes, or can we say that each mistake, no matter how similar, was meant to happen? If the mistakes were meant to happen, is there a finite amount we must make before we realize the error of our ways? Or are we destined to never learn, thinking this cycle is supposed to be a natural part of our lives? If so, are we supposed to learn something from these cycles other than how to get out of them? What is it?

Let me get back to you after my next unrequited love. Surely that will tell me what I need to know.

Last week: Surviving the DTRs (defining the relationship)

Next week: The friendship ex-ception

 

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