How to Develop the Unhealthy Relationship You've Always Wanted
As Unhealthy as You Make It
So, you're looking to build an unhealthy relationship? Well, you're not alone. Too often, couples fall into safe, comfortable patterns; these men and women regard each other with mutual respect and a sense of integrity. Drama and friction rarely distract these pairs from their unending commitment.
It really doesn't have to be this way. It's more than possible to join the millions of couples who endure dysfunctional relationships. All you need is a little lack of foresight and a little lack of know-how, and you can waste years of your life in a loveless union. The recipe is simple: seek out your self-worth in another, suffer from codependency or detachment, and make sure to blame your partner for your own inadequacies.
Seeking Out False Self-Esteem
One of the surest ways to build an unhealthy relationship is to wrap your self-esteem up in someone else. Young couples are notorious for this. They inherently understand that the path to ruin is to worry over every word, every expression, every moment; they ask "What are you thinking about?" back and forth repeatedly, in an effort to solidify their shaky ground. People who search for their self-esteem in others always decide that the world is ok or isn't ok based on what their partners are feeling. If you land in such a relationship, you'll find yourself fretting endlessly over what kind of a mood he or she will be in tonight; you'll find yourself supporting almost every opinion expressed by your mate (isn't it great, you'll think at first, that we agree on so much). When you're apart, you'll notice that there's a queasy void inside you that grows until you reunite, and you'll secretly reason that it must be love. Unless the "outside" world intervenes, you'll define love this way for many years. Everything feels right only when you are within arm's reach of your significant other.
Seeking out your self-worth in another is a great way to build an unhealthy relationship, but it helps to have low self-esteem before romance comes around. It's tough to enter a relationship with a strong, centered sense of identity and then lose it. It can be done if your partner is willing to chip away endlessly at your self-worth, but it's a long road. Keep trying!
Too Close or Too Far Apart
Another way to maintain an unhealthy relationship is to be codependent with your partner. Much like when couples find a sense of self in each other, some pairs develop a toxic need to be together at all times. It's true that young couples often fall into this trap, but the reality is that it can happen to people of all ages. They travel together to every social occasion, sometimes in "parent" and "child" roles; they accompany one another on every meaningless errand. They justify being glued at the hip by explaining that they are madly in love, but friends start falling by the wayside (one or the other doesn't approve of that friend) and the interaction between the two begins to feel tense to their families. Conversations with the pair become arduous affairs: there's no getting an answer from one without the other chiming in. A codependent couple is an unhealthy amalgamation of two minds, a losing of two selves for the sake of one poorly conceived union. In other words, fun!
Detached couples are as common as codependent ones. These couples likely started on fire; they felt a burning passion, and decided to carry that passion into a permanent togetherness. When the sizzle started to sputter, these couples (or one member of the couple) often will go to extremes to get the "magic" back: exotic trips, highly unusual intimate settings, expensive playthings. Regardless, though, the blind intensity fades, and the couple becomes detached through what feels like an endless series of days of he's-doing-this and she's-doing-that and isn't-it-great-how-we-can-both-do-our-own-things-and-still-be-ok. After a while, one or the other gets the notion that being alone in a couple isn't all that much fun, and something needs to change. Alcohol or drugs might creep into the equation (or have been there all along, simmering on a back burner), and very often, what ultimately changes is that the departing member of the detached couple finds a crazy kind of "magic" with someone new, and the cycle repeats itself. Being detached from your loved one is a sound option when attempting to cultivate an unhealthy relationship, so give it a whirl.
The Blame Game
Whether you're currently engaged in an unhealthy relationship or looking to start one, keep in mind that all such alliances have one thing in common: blame. It's impossible to have a truly dysfunctional connection with someone without a persistent, bitter habit of blaming that individual for all of life's woes. Perhaps you've never made as much money as you would have liked; perhaps your children have made a series of unhealthy choices of their own. Perhaps you look back on the last twenty years as a tremendous waste, and see no chance of things getting better. In an unhealthy relationship, it's all his or her fault. There should be no hesitation to blame your partner for all of your shortcomings. Sometimes this takes the form of abuse, and sometimes it takes the form of callous bickering. I've spent unfortunate evenings with couples who snipe continually about what's being eaten, what's being worn, what's being said. Nothing is ever good enough about each other for these people, because they never feel good enough about themselves. They're a blast.
Partners who blame each other do so from a place of hurt, but rather than attempt to heal the pain, they only dispense more of it to others. It takes the form of an endless, hurtful cycle. This is an excellent approach to forming an unhealthy bond.
You're on Your Way to Impairment
It could be that you're already on your way to developing a solidly unhealthy relationship. Make sure to take the time to reflect on all that you and your partner share, and mimic the descriptions outlined here. It's not too hard to turn a promising connection into something sour, given the proper lack of planning and a poor work ethic. You'll find dysfunction a consistently unrewarding means of loving another. You, too, can live miserably if you're up for it.
Of course, another choice would be to strive towards a healthy relationship, but seriously, who has the time for that?