Updated: May 25
What does a healthy relationship actually look like?
Many of us may be guilty of entertaining an unrealistic romantic notion when it comes to relationships. The idea of being whisked away from the 9 to 5 grind by a perfectly formed, sun-kissed body, clad in a dashing white Pilots’ uniform or a skimpy red bikini - depending on your preference, may have appealed at one time or another to some.
We've seen the films and lusted after the ideal image of a relationship, but most of us know that is exactly what it is, nothing more than an image; one brilliantly executed frame taken out of context and not a true reflection of real life as we know it.
Fakery has become common placed in our society in recent years, with surgically enhanced bodies and the forged lifestyles of social media influencers, which May put reaching the bar of belonging out of some people’s reach.
We tend to compare our own relationships to the relationships of others; envious of their apparent happiness and contentment, especially at times when our own relationship may be causing pain or concern. You may have come across the saying 'The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence; put simply; we may 'imagine' other peoples lives or relationships are better than ours; or that they do not encounter the same difficulties as we do.
In reality, every relationship experiences problems, it's just that most people are either 'presenting' their 'best selves' - (another case of thinking with our eyes and believing what we see! as explained in part 1 of the process) or they are both committed to taking the time and effort to discover what it takes to make their relationship work.
In reality 'The grass is never greener on the other side, the grass withers and rots on both sides of the fence, unless it is properly maintained and cared for.
Real life relationships aren't always easy. More often than not they a precarious balance of two egos; two lots of opinions and emotions balanced against the ever-increasing pressures of life. Healthy relationships are not perfect, they are a two-way street which both parties are responsible for monitoring and maintaining. Romantic relationships, like any other; can become tedious and difficult at times. The 'honeymoon' period that often presents itself as I have described it in phase 1, usually lasts for a few months before reality kicks in and both parties settle into their individual roles which may start to feel mundane over time. For this reason, it’s really important that both parties are committed from the outset.
Relationships are made up of 6 fundamental ingredients;
Respect, Trust, Equality, Honesty, Compassion and Compromise.
These components are the foundations of a healthy relationship and are a good guide to measure any relationships by. Depending on situations and circumstances, these components will fluctuate in any relationship, with the odd one or two seemingly disappearing all together at times; lets face it we are never going to agree with each other 100% of the time, and life would be incredibly boring if we did. Compromise often goes out the window for a short time at least, when both parties have very different ideas about a particular subject; but for the most part - all 6 ingredients should remain present in the relationship throughout, with all components being applicable to all parties concerned and to all types of relationships.
Easier said that done? perhaps. Widely known but seldom applied? maybe;
but like all things in life, you only get out of anything what you are willing to put in to it - and as we know, relationships are a two way street; both parties have to be willing to work together. One person cannot do anything to change the behaviour of another. That is like one person drinking alcohol, expecting the other person to get drunk.
In a narcissistic relationship, while all components appear to be present in Phase 1, in reality none of them are present - but this only begins revealing itself to the victim in phase 2, when the narcissist's behaviour suddenly changes, by which time the victim has an emotional attachment to the narcissist.
There is a misconception that relationships require 50/50 input. Which is to say each person is 50% responsible for their part in the relationships success. In reality, each individual is 100% responsible for their part in ensuring their relationships succeed; 50% is only half measure.
In order to achieve 100%, each individual must first be willing to know themselves and be fully aware of the impact that they and their actions have on others. Both parties need to be able to communicate effectively, so an understanding between the parties can always be reached. If one partner is not prepared to talk about any issues experienced in the relationship; the 6 fundamental components quickly start disappearing as far as the other partner is concerned. Life is about relationships, we all have to be willing to put the effort in, if we want them to succeed, and if we don't want to put the effort in, we need to be honest about that with ourselves and everyone else concerned; Honesty being one of the key ingredients. In narcissistic relationships, the victim is usually giving 100% while from phase 2 onward, the narcissist is giving 0%.
There is only one thing worse than a loveless relationship; when there is love on one side only!
When we have experienced a traumatic event, we may become guilty of 'assuming or expecting' others to understand how we are feeling and why are responding the way we are. We may assume the other person in the relationship knows why we flinch, panic, jump or lash out - when in reality, they may have absolutely no idea. As a result the ingredients that make up the basis of a relationship are called into question by the other party. Even if both parties have experienced trauma, similar situations do not amount to the same experience, as individuals we each experience and respond to things differently. Which is why the person-centred approach underpins all my work.
In my workshops, when appropriate, I refer to the POT; not a mind altering weed but The Personal Opinion Translator, a simple way to explain how we each interpret the world around us. As we each absorb the information from our surroundings; it passes through the POT before reaching the brain and seeking a response. Each persons POT is unique to them, determined by thousands of variables; including Age, Gender, Education, Status, Mood, Medication, Experience, Beliefs, Prejudices etc. thousands of different elements, that shape our view of the world; or to put it simply:
"We see things as we are rather than as they are" (Anais Nin).
Unsolved trauma in an individual; which may have been present from early childhood, unless addressed and understood by the person themselves may result in having an entirely negative POT, which will ultimately shape their lives and their relationships.
It is important to stress, that a victim of narcissistic abuse is neither responsible or accountable for what has that happened caused by the actions of another them, even though they often blame themselves and are blamed by others. Victims cannot be considered at fault when they were in-fact completely unaware of what was happening to them,, thus taking it completely out of their control. The person inflicting the damage; in this case the narcissist, is responsible, because they have knowing and purposefully found and targeted a person, deliberately misled them, lied, manipulated and coerced the victim in order to reach a desired outcome that is advantageous only to the abuser.
The idea that the victim should have known better or should have acted differently to avoid being abused is ludicrous! nothing more than a cop out designed to shirk responsibility. Blaming the victim makes them feel weak, vulnerable and stupid; causing them even further damage.
An excuse often offered by a narcissist for their callous and cruel behaviour, is how they themselves have fallen victim at the hands of another; and this may well be the case. However, every person is responsible for their actions and how their actions impact on others; having once been a victim is no excuse for creating another one. We each have a responsibility to ourselves, to ensure we understand and manage the adversity we experience, to ensure the cycle doesn't continue.
'It is easier to build strong children than repair broken (adults)' (Fredrick Douglass); Prevention arises through understanding.
In the final part of this 5 part blog - Breaking the Cycle of Narcissistic Abuse we take consider how and why Victims are targeted, and take a closer look at the process; in particular the Invisible Seduction how it works and why.
Feel free to leave a comment, I am interested to hear your views. If you would like to know more about our workshop at A Positive Start CIC and the workshops we provide, people email to email@example.com
Wishing you love, peace and joy,
If you have chanced upon this post because you are experiencing narcissistic abuse and need support - rest assured you have found a safe haven. Get In Touch
It is important to remember, this is #NotYourFault
Copyright ©2014 Deborah J Crozier Breaking the Cycle of Narcissistic Abuse/S.T.A.N.D