As a dog returns to its vomit,
so a fool repeats his foolishness.
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
I’m going to describe a couple of scenarios and see if it sounds like someone you know (I’m just making up the name/situation, although I bet they will sound familiar):
Maria has been in a relationship for a year. Unfortunately, her boyfriend is bad news. Her friends and parents warned her not to get involved with him. He has cheated on her more than once and treats her terribly. Sometimes she complains about how she is treated. Her friends have encouraged her to break up with him, but she refuses. “I am willing to endure this for the sake of love. True love means not giving up on someone so easily,” she always says.
John is always there for his “special friend.” He always texts her and talks to her on the phone. He has been a shoulder for her to cry on when she has relationship problems. John wants more than friendship and he has told her this more than once. She declined, saying that she only thinks of him as a friend/brother. Despite what she has told him, he still continues to hope that she will fall in love with him. He continues to invest much of his time and energy into this relationship.
These people suffer from what I call the “Romantic Martyr Syndrome.”
Romantic martyrs make unhealthy choices for the sake of “love.” They claim that they are proving their love by enduring misery or abuse. Ironically, it is quite common for a martyr to resent his/her girlfriend/boyfriend and constantly complain about the relationship problems.
If you or someone you know is a romantic martyr, here are a few steps that you need to take:
Take responsibility for your relationship and life choices. I’ve seen individuals act as though someone else forced them to be in a relationship. If you have chosen a cheater, liar, abuser, or addict, then you need to take responsibility for the bad decision.
In fairness, it could be that you were initially fooled into thinking he/she was a good person. Even so, you are responsible for the decisions you make now that you know the truth. If you chose to stay in the relationship, it is your decision.
This principle also applies to investing your emotions into someone who is clearly not available for you romantically. Don’t waste your time on someone who is not available or interested. If you do this, you only have yourself to blame.
Ask yourself some tough questions. You need to be brutally honest with yourself and try to figure out what’s going on inside of you. Ask yourself, for example why you would allow yourself to be treated this way. Perhaps you are insecure. Perhaps you don’t feel you deserve someone better. Maybe there is some emotional “baggage” that you need to get rid of. A counselor could be extremely helpful in this process.
This questioning process is especially important if you have a pattern of unhealthy relationships.
Remember that respect is part of true love. If some one is not treating you with respect, then he/she does not truly love you—period. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can be used/abused and loved at the same time.
Note: This post is primarily intended for singles. I realize that an unhealthy marriage is a much more complicated issue—a simple breakup is not an option.
This is one of the many articles that you’ll find in my book: Basta Lovelife: Making Wise Relationship Decisions.
More from my site