Release Yourself from Relationship Energy Traps
Have you ever obsessed over something or someone SO much that it was difficult to concentrate on anything else?
When I was in school, I remember being unable to study (or at least retain any info) because I was too “busy” over analyzing a sticky situation with a guy, constantly checking my phone for his texts. This is what I call an energy trap. You devote all of your attention, thoughts and emotions to a negative situation or person.
When you give away so much of your energy to something, you in turn, give it power. Giving away your power leaves you in a vulnerable position.
I get it, sometimes you have to devote a lot of thought and energy to a negative situation when it comes to making an important, sometimes life changing decision. Maybe you’re debating whether or not to break up with your significant other. That’s major and requires a lot of thought, obviously.
What provoked me to write this post was a question I received from a reader. Let’s call her Tinsley. It was actually her second time writing to me about a guy she had hooked up with. We’ll call him Ben. He happened to be someone she felt somewhat close to because their families were friends. She is 19 and he is 26 years old. After the first time they hooked up drunkenly at a party, he told her not to tell anyone. Ah, a real Romeo. His ex had found out, was upset and giving him grief about it. Well, she ended up hooking up with Ben three more times after that. And he had the nerve to not speak to her after each of these occasions. Naturally, we’re probably thinking what a jerk this guy is, right?
Then I started thinking about Tinsley’s role in this situation. I understand her motivation in the beginning, she had a crush on him, kind of looked up to him and she thought they might have potential as a couple. After the first time they had sex, those hopes and expectations for a relationship or even a friendship were shot down. Despite this, she made the choice to go back to him and each time, was left feeling used and embarrassed. This cycle left her basking in her sadness and shame.
So, the big question is Why did she keep going back to him?
Tinsley continued to feed this energy trap by not only repeating the negative behavior, but feeding it her attention, her emotions and her thoughts. By giving away so much of her energy to this situation, she was in turn sacrificing a lot. She was not open to opportunities to meet new people. In particular, she was not open to meeting a new guy who would actually meet her hopes of a relationship, which is what she really wanted. She was trapped.
This is a very common human conundrum.
So, how do we release ourselves from a relationship energy trap?? Here is a sure fire way to free yourself.
♥ How to Ditch the D-Bag ♥
Get Real With Yourself
The first step is to be self aware that you are in an energy trap. A lot of times, we are in denial and don’t realize we’re in a toxic situation or relationship. We may justify our behavior. We may feel like we can’t stop because we need it. Try asking yourself a few questions. If your best friend or sister was in your situation, what advice would you give her? Are you more often upset than you are happy? Deep down you know if this situation or person is toxic, so be honest with yourself.
Don’t Mistake Chemistry for Love
For Tinsley, she held on very tightly to any attention she received from Ben because he didn’t give her much. So, the little bit he dispensed, she clung to it because it made her feel good. She spent most of her time analyzing and trying to figure out his story, their story. Wondering why he continued to hook up with her, wondering if it would ever evolve into anything, wondering when she would see him next. Not knowing when she might get an unexpected text or a kiss increased her excitement when she actually did.
It is the human condition to want to figure things out, to figure people out and it provides a big dopamine dump when we do this. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers, according to Psychology Today. It contributes to “euphoria, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, and a rush of motivation. In other words, the dazzling beginnings of love.” This might explains why Tinsley was drawn to Ben. She received a dose of dopamine when she got his attention, an addicting feel good chemical in her brain, and she wanted her next hit. This powerful chemical does more than just control our pleasure centers, though. According to The Science of Small Wins blog, Dopamine’s “real job is to encourage us to act, either to achieve something good or to avoid something bad.” Moments of high stress can also cause a spike in our dopamine levels. This may account for why some women are drawn to drama filled or even abusive relationships. Sure, Tinsley might be getting a rush of pleasure from this situation, but it’s coming from a negative place and one that is self destructive. That’s not love, but a dangerous infatuation.
From an outside perspective, it may seem unreal that Tinsley would continue to keep going back to him. But, let’s be honest. We’ve all done something over and over, knowing damn well we shouldn’t. The first step toward overcoming this trap is to work on personal development. Through counseling, self help books and self reflection, we can begin to feel whole and balanced once again. Tinsley (and us) need to redirect ourselves to find a new source of dopamine. Ideally, it should come from within, from a positive, high energy source. Throw yourself into a newfound passion, a spin class, yoga, hiking, meditation, volunteering, journaling or creating art.
Talking with a trusted friend, relative or counselor will help to sort through your feelings, to find a new perspective and will send you on a path toward healing. Some questions to consider are why were you attracted to a toxic relationship like this? What qualities are you looking for in a partner? What equates a healthy relationship? What red flags can you be on the lookout for in your next relationship?
It won’t be an easy process, but at least knowing that there are biological reasons why we sometimes act in ways that don’t always make sense can be consoling. We’re not weak or pathetic, we’re just human. xoxo