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The “Suffer So I Can Feel Loved” Relationship Dynamic


We all want to know that we are loved.  But how do you know if you are loved? This is one of the most important questions you can ask yourself relative to your relationships.  No one can feel loved with a “fair-weather” partner or friend. In other words, a person who disconnects and un-commits the minute things get hard or inconvenient or painful.  But there is serious danger in our love being defined by the opposite extreme.      

A shocking amount of people either consciously or subconsciously believe that they know someone loves them if that person is willing to stay committed to them no matter what.  This essentially means, if they remain connected and committed through suffering; even if they, themselves are the one causing that suffering. This type of thinking opens the door for rationalized subconscious abuse. 

The definition of an unsafe relationship is a relationship with someone who cannot take you as part of themselves and therefore cannot take your best interests as part of their best interests.  This is a state of disconnection. In a state of disconnection, someone cannot see you, feel you, hear you and understand you to even know what your best interests really are. They become un-attuned.  

Most people think that love is to feel intensely positive towards something or someone.  This is not the case. This can be a byproduct of love. To love something is to take it as a part of yourself.  If you take something as a part of you, you do not perceive yourself to be separate from that thing and so you can perceive it fully and you seriously take its best interests into account.  To understand more about this, watch my video titled: How To Create A Safe Relationship. If you take something as a part of you, you can’t hurt that thing without hurting yourself.  

The reality is that many people had adult caregivers in their early life that did not do this.  Instead, they expected their children to be in pain in one way or another for their sake. The child’s boundaries (which includes thoughts, feelings, preferences, aversions, needs, and desires) were not considered.  The caregivers did what was best for themselves and the kids had to go along with it. The kids are praised for doing so. They begin to from a link between the self-sacrifice and endurism and love. 

  This may suit the caregivers in the short term, but they are setting up their children for an adulthood where they do this to the people in their life and this is done to them by the people in their life.  

This pattern becomes very dangerous because they will find themselves on either side of the following pattern in their adult relationships: One person does something to make the other person feel unloved, it doesn’t have to be something extreme, it could even be something small and unconscious, like looking at someone else.  It creates insecurity in the other person. They disconnect in order to preserve themselves. But to re-establish security in the relationship, they begin to ‘test’ the love the other person has for them. Because their subconscious way of knowing if someone loves them is if that person remains connected and committed even though they are suffering.  So, they subconsciously begin to put the other person in pain. The ways they go about doing this range all the way from overt physical, mental and emotional abuse to beginning to make decisions that are not in the best interests of the other person to no longer recognizing their limits to creating situations that seem totally beyond their control, but that cause the other person distress…  Any situation where how the other person acts and what they decide to do when they are in that pain, indicates that person’s level of commitment and connection and desire for them.  

People who are in the position of being caused pain in this scenario will immediately revert back to their original behavior of proving their love by staying committed and connected no matter what.  Their “I’ll suffer to be with you” mentality is now what establishes the security in the relationship.    

I want you to think about that, the holding pattern inherent in this relationship pattern is that for one or both people in the relationship, the security in the relationship and the knowing of how much your partner or friend loves you is defied by how much they will suffer to be with you or suffer for your best interests.  It goes without saying that this is where the recognition of a person’s limits goes right out the window in a relationship.      

An interesting thing to note is that love is not actually present in this relationship.  One person has to go into a state of endurism and to do so, must cease to take his or her own best interests as a part of themselves.  They must self sacrifice, which is the opposite of self love. So, one party has to stop loving themselves. To understand more about this pattern, it may help you to watch my video titled: Endurism (The Flip Side of Escapism).    

The other person has to disconnect from the other to begin to say and do things that put them in pain.  When they become ok with the other person being in pain so they can selfishly feel loved by them, they are by definition no longer taking the other person as a part of themselves.  So they are not loving them. It becomes a rather ironic twist whereby to have the other person’s love for them proven, they, themselves must cease to love. You may notice that you flip flop between both roles in one relationship and you may also play one role in one relationship and the opposite role in another relationship. 

So you can understand this pattern better, I will give you an example.  A couple struggles with money. The woman in the relationship loses her tolerance for it and makes the comment “Why couldn’t I have just married a millionaire?”  This makes the man feel unloved and immediately doubt the security of the relationship. Instead of really putting his energy toward financial wellbeing, he begins to test her love by subconsciously putting minimal effort towards improving their financial situation and plays video games or goes to the bar when he could be looking for ways to improve their situation instead.  Their financial situation stays bad or gets worse. She suffers, but he feels more loved as months go by and years go by and she is still choosing to be in the relationship with him despite their poverty and the suffering it causes her. He feels even more loved when she suffers even more by putting all her time and energy into improving the financial situation for the both of them.  And she looks at her willingness to suffer that much with him instead of getting another, more affluent partner as a measure and gesture of her love for him as well. Her willingness to suffer and stay connected and committed anyway becomes their barometer for the security of the relationship and the amount she loves him.    

If this is a pattern in your relationships, it means your wires are crossed.  They are crossed so badly that your definition of love is in fact the exact opposite of actual love.  To love something implies an intolerance for its suffering. This is part of why it is so critical to swallow the reality of incompatibility.  If you have this relationship pattern, incompatible relationships and the indescribable pain they cause will be the relationships in which you feel the most loved and think you love the other person the most.  Your relationships will devolve into feeling shame (like in any incompatible relationship does) but then, you will feel even more loved because they stay with you no matter how ‘bad’ you are and you stay with them no matter how ‘bad’ they are.  To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Incompatibility, a harsh reality in relationships.    

If you recognize this pattern in yourself, don’t judge yourself as bad for it.  It’s totally understandable why it exists and that it makes you feel loved or loving.  You simply have to recognize that the moral of the story is that it is impossible to create a feel-good relationship with the security in the relationship and the knowing of how much a person loves you being based on how much they will suffer to be with you or suffer for your best interests.  And it is impossible to be in a good relationship with yourself when you define your love for someone based on your willingness to suffer to be with them or suffer for their best interests. It isn’t even ultimately loving towards them. What is in another person’s best interests is for them to be with someone who really appreciates and enjoys them and sees them as a source of pleasure, not to be with someone whose truth is “it hurts me to be with you or do this for you.”  The security in a relationship and the measure of whether someone loves you, is based on their commitment to your wellbeing. Let this be your way of loving other people and let this be your way of loving yourself.







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