Saturday, February 12, 2005

Addictive love

Addictive love

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Friday, February 11, 2005 1:10 AM

Fourth of 5 parts

What keeps a woman in such a one-sided relationship where she is completely dominated by the man? Where she lives in the grip of a man who continues to be abusive even as she tries her very best to please him?

The answer is ADDICTIVE LOVE. This kind of woman is addicted to her partner. She feels she cannot live without him, even if it is so difficult to live with him. Like the drug addict who will do anything, suffer all kinds of pain in order to get a momentary high, the woman who chooses to remain in an abusive relationship is deeply dependent (addicted) to her man. Like the drug addict who chooses to go on in his self-destructive ways because of his highs, so, too, does the love addict decide to stay in her toxic relationship because of those happy moments that she experiences, even if they are few and far between.

Dr. Susan Forward describes it this way: “It is a vicious cycle. The more dependent she becomes, the more important he becomes. The more important he is, the more she is willing to give up for him, so there is less left in her life that is free of him. This keeps her hooked very firmly.”

Often these are very capable and talented women who are very successful in their careers. It’s just that when they step into the house, they become very different. Perhaps, like one woman told me, “I have many people under my supervision in the office, but when I face my husband, I’m like a marshmallow.”

The reason for this seemingly unreasonable behavior is that the woman feels like she cannot live or function without her partner, even though he is abusive. There is something inside her that causes her to cling to her man and bear his abuse. If it was anyone else, she would never tolerate it, but it’s him and she is under his spell.

Another reason why the woman remains in this kind of miserable relationship is because of what Susan Forward calls the “Hope Hook.” The woman has the fervent hope that something will happen and he will change. Even if this is only a pinpoint of light, it is what she holds onto in the midst of her sufferings. It’s what keeps her going.

There is also, Susan Forward says, the “Fear Hook.” She remains trapped because of concerns about finances, loneliness, her children and reputation if she leaves. She may also fear retribution from her man if she walks away. Men have been known to kill a partner who gets up and leaves.

There is also, of course, a great measure of low self-esteem. Women who have a healthy regard for themselves, who value their person, would never allow themselves to remain in such a poisonous relationship. They would not hesitate to insist on changes or, lacking that, they would get out.

More tomorrow


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